A bustling riverfront promenade with cafés and food vendors galore was the main hangout during my time in Phnom Penh, and all with the mighty Mekong River in the background!
Sisowath Quay is pretty much the centre point of Phnom Penh, and the locals consider it the main place to congregate in the daytime to enjoy a lazy cup of coffee or some nom banh chok. Located right beside the mighty Mekong river, and adjacent to the Royal Palace, you can also see why it becomes a place of interest for the tourists too. Every tuktuk driver knows how to get there, so wherever your hotel or hostel is located in Phnom Penh, you can always be sure that a mere short and cheap ride is all you need to get here. I was interested in this area to experience being by the riverside, as well as trying some delicious Khmer food!
I don’t think much of Cambodian street food when you compare it to the likes of Thai and Vietnamese street food. Street food in Cambodia tend to be marketed towards the tourists, so you can find lots of ‘shock value’ items, such as deep-fried tarantulas and BBQ snake on a stick etc., but there is very little in the way of traditional Khmer cuisine sold on the streets of Phnom Penh. I guess one thing you could always look out for is the spicy Cambodian Sausage, which is not normally served on a skewer, but at Sisowath Quay I did see them being cooked in that method!
I wanted to try something a little more meaningful than just grilled street food, so I hunted for some Khmer Red Curry, but I didn’t find any. In the end, I ordered a small plate of Amok Trey from a café and then later in the day I sampled some of the authentic Khmer noodles (Nom Banh Chouk) that I had heard many good things about. I paid the equivalent of around £1 for these meals combined, which reminded me of just how cheap food is in Cambodia!
Actually, the part of the Mekong River where Sisowath Quay lies is the confluence of both the Mekong and the Tonle Sap lake, on which I had a boat ride up in Siem Reap to check out the community of Kampong Phluk. Here in Phnom Penh, though, the river seemed very calm and not the ferocious impression of the Mekong you might have lodged in your mind. Lots of local people were sitting beside the river, just enjoying the slight breeze (not much of a breeze in Cambodia, and most of the breeze is full of dirty fumes anyway) and some were even jogging down the promenade trying to keep fit. I really wanted to join them, but I don’t think I was dressed for the occasion!