This is my second or third review for Phnom Penh, see my most recent one here if you are looking for the usual Deep Fried Chicken Wing praise. This post is a little different because I am actually going to focus on their "other" specialties.
This is their Beef Brochette...two skewers of grilled beef slices served on a bed of vermicelli. There are also some cucumbers and tomato slices to lighten things up a bit. Pour a little of the fish sauce that comes with it, and you're all set.
We also tried the Deep-Fried Pomfret - lightly battered and deep fried whole. Don't like the fish staring at you? Turn it away like we did here. The sauce is a slightly thicker version of the more common fish sauce. The fish is scored so it cooks through quickly, and the flesh inside is still moist. If you like skin, you'll be delighted with the crunch of the skin. Yes there are bones to deal with, but worth it, I think. Oh, and yes, that is indeed an order of the famous chicken wings in the background.
The other dish I want to draw your attention to is their Claypot Chicken Rice...it takes about 20 mins to prepare when you order it, so expect to wait. The rice is slow-cooked or baked in this casserole, along with bone-in chicken, wood ear (essentially a tasteless fungus used for its crunch).
Wood Ear is mildly sweet but takes on the flavours of the dish it is being cooked in. High in protein and rich in iron, this little fungus packs quite the nutritional punch! Another ingredient is something called Golden Needles, now these aren't fungi, instead they are actually edible flower buds. Normally sold dry, you have to rehydrate them before using them. These are also flavourless but again, great crunch. As you near the bottom of the casserole dish, you'll notice that the rice is stuck to the bottom. This is intentional! Scrape at the pot to get all the stuck-on crunchy bits - some say this is the best part of the dish!
As I have found with another favourite restaurant (Hapa Izakaya), I will always have my standbys, but sometimes, going out of your comfort zone is a good thing too.