Eating Out in Phnom Penh – My Favourite Restaurants

Eating out in restaurants back in Ireland or any other western county can be pricey and sometimes only happens on special occasions. And when I talk about eating out I don’t mean a take away from Lennox’s or Four Star Pizza. I mean going to a restaurant, sitting down, having food, a few beers and catching up with friends. This is what Phnom Penh does best!

There are hundreds, if not thousands of restaurants in PP to choose from, some better than others and some hidden gems that are rarely talked about by the expat community in order to keep off the backpacker trail.

TripAdvisor is a great way to visit some of the top places to eat in a city, but sometimes it doesn’t have everything, or some of the establishments do not receive the recognition that they deserve. It is good to use TripAdvisor as a guide, but don’t take is as Gospel!

The following are some of my favourite places to eat in PP:

  1. Chat and Chew – No. 54, St.172, Phnom Penh
    Owned by Sony and his wife, it is a nice small friendly place where you are always greeted with a smile, and if you’re luck you will get one of the two tables outside. The walls are decorated with various pictures of the Khmer culture, from Khmer boxing to the rural rice fields.
    Chat and Chew is a local spot for most Expats in PP who have tried a lot of different eateries in the city. It’s breakfast options vary from omelettes, to muesli to a full English Breakfast, and my personal favourite, egg and soldiers!
    Main courses are the main reason that the expat community keep coming to Chat and Chew. Burgers, pasta, pizza, salads and the Western Specialties such and Chicken Cordon Blue, Beef Wellington and BBQ Ribs are all top quality and ensure that you don’t leave hungry.

    Chicken Cordon Blue

    Chicken Cordon Blue

    Its local Asian and Khmer Menu offer some cheaper alternatives to the Western menu. Nasi Goreng, Fried Rice/Noodles, Khmer curry, Amok, Chicken and cashew are all available. The unique taste from each dish will ensure that the next time you return you will want to taste something new and see it can beat your last order.

    Nasi Goreng

    Nasi Goreng

  2. The Irish Place – Street 110, No. 119, Phnom Penh
    Phnom Penh’s equivalent to Cheers, the place where everyone knows your name. Ran by Pat Hurney from Dublin, Ireland, The Irish Place is the only TRUE Irish Bar in the city of Phnom Penh. The Irish Place is full of Expats who come for the cold beer, atmosphere and the FOOD!!
    Best option to order on the menu is the Fish and Chips. If you manage to fish this serving you are doing very well for yourself! (a half portion option is available)
    If you manage to wake up early, get yourself to The Irish Place for full Irish Breakfast, complete with tea and toast! This is by far the best breakfast in PP and luckily is still not too famous. But for sure the word will spread like wild fire!
    The toasted sandwiches are the best in town, proper bread, proper cheese and peppered ham that is second to none!

    Fish and Chips

    Fish and Chips

    FULL IRISH BREAKFAST

    FULL IRISH BREAKFAST

    The Irish Place also offers accommodation upstairs so be sure to check it out!

  3. Katy Peri’s Pizza – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qc2IMxyLhAw
    First of all this is a mobile wood fired pizza oven that makes the best pizzas in PP! Hands Down! It only opens after dark because the guys who work there have other jobs in the morning. After 11pm it can be found on the corner of St 51 and St 172 and it will stay there until about 4am or until they run out
    So its location varies during the the week 5pm-10pm:
    Monday- Showbox
    Tuesday- Bluedog
    Wednesday –Bluedog
    Thursday – Showbox
    If I didn’t mention it already, this is the best pizza in PP! Small pizza’s start from $3 to $5 for a large! Words can’t justify the taste of this pizza. Just ask any person who lives in PP and they will tell you about it.
    It is usually consumed at about 3am after Howies or Love Bar. If you are lucky, you will get a seat and a table to eat off of.
  4. Restaurant 18 – St 108 (Next to the Night Market)
    This is a local Khmer beer garden style place where you can find all the local delicacies and free flowing Anchor! The menu is similar to a phone book and is full of pictures of the food that they have to offer. There is always a BBQ flaming in front of the restaurant, a fish tank that offers the freshest of fish and personal cook-it-yourself gas burners for soup or fried meats.
    Some of the best dishes on the menu are the fried frog, mango salad, battered prawns and the whole fried fish.
    With jugs of Anchor going for $2 a pop, it is a great place to meet with friends, chat, drink and eat before the night ahead

I’m starting to get hungry now so I’m going to stop!

To Volunteer or Not To Volunteer

In my personal opinion volunteering is something that everyone should do at least once in their lives. It’s not just about having to sacrifice everything just so you can try and help people. You can actually have some fun while you are doing it. At the same time it does not have to be something that costs you a lot of money or a lot of travel to do either. If you look properly around your local area or city you will find dozens of charities that are looking for people to help out.

My first experience with volunteering was with a local organisation called S.H.A.R.E. during secondary school. S.H.A.R.E. is an organisation from Cork City that cares for elderly people. They have a building that these elderly people can come to during the day to basically just hangout, chat, watch TV, and other various activities. Myself and my friend, Tomas, spent a week visiting this centre during the day. At the start of the first day I was nervous and apprehensive but by the end of the day I was leaving looking forward to coming back the next day.

So my one piece of advice for people is to try it at least once, you never know, you may enjoy it!!

In my time I have come across and I am friends with a lot of people who have volunteered. Some of them have been the most inspirational people I have met. The age that you volunteer at has very little to do with the amount you can achieve, but more the ambition that you come with. I have met volunteers ranging from 14 to 72 years old and there is not much of a difference in their own personal abilities.

I have on the other hand met some volunteers that have come for their own personal gain. These are the people that come with their $500 SRL camera around their neck who take countless pictures of the children. They then return home showing all their family and friends these ‘sad’ black and white pictures of poor naked children in the street. These ‘volunteers’ stay in a project for a week and then move on, while doing this they think that they have achieved so much and that their time spent there made such a huge difference to the people involved. In reality, these ‘week long volunteers’ cannot achieve something in such a short space of time.

In order to really get involved in a project/community/NGO you need to be there for at least 4-6 months. This gives you enough time to integrate into the project and really get a firm grasp on what is happening in the community. Once you have achieved this you can then start to see what is really needed in the area, and what skills you possess that can be of benefit.

One piece of advice that I give to everyone who asks me about volunteering is don’t volunteer for a few weeks or a month. IF YOU ARE GOING TO DO IT, DO IT PROPERLY. 4 months to 2 years may seem like a long time but when you are doing the work it flies by. You get to know the people you are helping better too, people appreciate the work you are doing, you become part of a community, and the best thing is the children know your name.

I encourage everyone to volunteer, but before you do, you have to ask yourself ‘Why am I going to volunteer?’ Unfortunately some people get this answer wrong, but the ones that get it right are the people who really make a difference in the world.

GET INVOLVED