Cambodia is quite often left behind in the food scene when it comes to Southeast Asian cuisines, as places such as Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia are usually more synonymous with delicious dishes.
However, that doesn’t mean to say that Cambodia doesn’t have its own fair share of yummy food and that’s exactly what this guide is all about – the top food you must try when visiting Cambodia.
1. Beef loc lac
Beef Loc Lac is one of the most famous dishes in Cambodia.
Consisting of stir-fried strips of beef, cooked and served on a bed of onions, lettuce and often tomatoes, the juice of the beef, combined with the potency of the onions provide this dish with delectable flavors.
Loc lac is often served with rice or fries and is usually topped with a fried egg.
It’s not the most extravagant meal in the world and it’s certainly not going to win any awards for most adventurous dish but it is truly delicious and usually only costs between $2 to $5.
2. Fish amok
Fish Amok is arguably Cambodia’s “signature” dish.
Usually made from cutlets of freshwater fish, cooked in a creamy consistency of coconut milk, fish sauce and eggs, as well as a thick paste of lemongrass, turmeric and lime, fish amok is a very popular dish amongst locals.
It’s typically cooked and served in a makeshift banana leaf bowl and you’ll find varieties of fish amok in most Cambodian restaurants and food stalls around the country.
3. Khmer curry
Curries are undoubtedly one of the most popular dishes in Asia and Cambodia’s own spin is called a Khmer curry.
The dish has a few variations, depending on where you are in the country, but it usually consists of chicken and coconut milk, fish sauce, garlic, herbs, turmeric and ginger.
The Khmer curry is also generally less spicy than typical Thai or Indian curries as it consists of more herbs and less spices.
4. Beef noodle soup
A Cambodian take on the traditional Vietnamese Phở, beef noodle soup is a dish that you’ll find all over the country for an incredibly affordable price.
You can sometimes find pork noodle soup on some menus in Cambodia but the usual offering is beef noodle soup.
Made from beef strips, carrot, cabbage, onion and garlic are typically added to the broth, as well as the pièce de résistance: Rice noodles. Sometimes, you’ll find that little street food stalls will simply use instant noodles instead and I actually prefer these to rice vermicelli (rice noodles).
5. Pepper crab
One particular food ingredient that Cambodia is famous for is Kampot pepper. The fields surrounding Kampot are absolutely teeming with pepper (and salt) farms and it’s there that you’ll find some of the purest and most heavenly pepper in the world.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that another one of Cambodia’s traditional dishes is pepper crab. Often stir-fried, the simple dish offers exactly what it says on the tin: Crab and pepper.
6. Pork/beef and rice
A portion of meat served with plain, white rice is commonplace pretty much all over Southeast Asia, and Cambodia’s offering of pork or beef with rice is no different.
The meat is often stir-fried with onions and peppers and is then served with a perfect cup of white rice. This dish is obviously not the most “out there” choice of cuisine in Cambodia, but it does sometimes make for a pleasant alternative if you’re not a huge fan of a large array of exotic ingredients in your meals.
7. Green mango salad
Green mango salad is another popular dish in Cambodia that consists of fish sauce and mango; two ingredients that some people find an odd combination.
However, a traditional green mango salad is very popular amongst both travelers and locals.
Typically packed with sliced green mango, fresh chillies, fish sauce, shallots, tomatoes, basil, mint leaves and more, this salad can take many forms, depending on the kind of ingredients you like to eat.
8. Bonus: Indian curry
This is kind of cheating somewhat as of course, an Indian curry isn’t a traditional Cambodian cuisine, however, it needed to be included in this guide of the food you must try when visiting Cambodia as you will have some of the best curries of your life when you go there.
One of the most highly rated curries in Cambodia is served by Simon’s Tandoori Indian Restaurant in Kampot. The butter chicken with garlic naan, rice and chips is a particularly highly recommended dish!
If you’re ever in Kampot, make sure you head to Simons’ Tandoori for an impossibly delicious curry!