Cambodian (Khmer) cuisine is similar to Thai cuisine though with fewer spices, but no less flavoursome! It also tends to be healthier than other Southeast Asian cuisine. The staple food is rice, which is served with almost every meal and noodles are also popular. A typical meal usually consists of a soup, a main dish (often curry, stir fry or salad) and dessert. Prahok (fermented fish paste) is used to flavour many dishes and coriander, mint leaves and lemongrass are popular herbs. Another popular dish is Amok, a curry made with fish, spices and coconut milk.
Cambodia’s climate ensures that colourful and tasty fruits are available in abundance, including locally grown jackfruit, longan fruit, lychee, rambutan fruit and the notorious durian. Like all other Buddhist countries, vegetarian food is readily available in most restaurants.
The two most popular domestic Cambodian beers are Anchor and Angkor - which is produced by an Australian joint venture in Sihanoukville. Grape wine of an export standard, called Prasat Phnom Banoen Grape Wine, is the country’s first ever locally produced wine, though for assured quality you’re best to stick with the many good imports from Australia and New Zealand. International-brand soft drinks can be found everywhere, as can fresh fruit smoothies and coffee served with generous dollops of condensed milk over ice. Chinese tea is popular and in many Khmer and Chinese restaurants a pot of it will automatically appear as soon as you sit down.
Safe eating while travelling in Cambodia
As Cambodia has increased in popularity with travellers, so has its regard for food hygiene standards. Restaurants that look clean and aren’t abnormally empty will generally serve good, safe food and street food is also usually fine to eat provided the food hasn’t been sitting in the sun for ages, getting attacked by flies. Be wary of meat and fish that might not have been cooked properly and insist that it is served piping hot before you eat it. Travellers should also avoid consuming ice, which might have been made with unhygienic water, and salad, raw vegetables and fruit, which may have been washed in dirty tap water.