Food Culture in Cambodia


How much do you know about Cambodia's food culture? Traveling to Cambodia, in addition to visiting some famous attractions, you will also eat Cambodian cuisine. Every country's cuisine has its own characteristics, while at the same time giving a food culture. Understanding the local food culture can not only effectively avoid mistakes, but also show respect for local people. Phnom Penh is a hub for international cuisine with more than 140 restaurants serving Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian and Thai cuisines.


Characteristics of Cambodian food

In Cambodia, rice is the staple grain. Fish, shrimp, lettuce and salad are the main non-staple foods. Generally, Cambodians drink alcohol. In Cambodia, men generally love smoking, and most women love chewing betel nuts. In Cambodia, except for monks who eat two meals a day, they usually have three meals a day. When eating, it is generally not necessary to use tables and chairs, but sit on the floor. Cambodians are not used to eating with chopsticks, but instead use plates, forks, spoons, or grabbing rice with their hands. They have the habit of gargling after dinner. They generally like Chinese food.

Cambodians like to sit on the ground while eating and eat with their hands. They wrap the cooked food in the washed lettuce leaves and then add the ingredients to eat directly. However, some families use tableware such as knives, forks, chopsticks, etc. When guests are at the Cambodian family, they should praise the food and taste good, and thank the host for their hospitality.

As we know, Cambodia is a country located in Southeast Asia and bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Vietnam to the east and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest. Therefore, Cambodian cuisine is a bit close to Thai food, but there is no strong sour and spicy taste like Thai food. It is sweeter, mainly based on fresh seafood, beef and chicken. In Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, visitors can taste food from around the world, such as Khmer-flavored foods, as well as Asian and European dishes. There are also many international restaurants in Siem Reap.


Two main Cambodian foods


Fish and rice are the two main elements of Khmer. Fish are found in various rivers or paddy fields in Cambodia, but the largest source is still in Tonlé Sap Lake. Fish, the basic material of all kinds of Cambodian cuisine, is made of the freshest ingredients and is served with a spice and peanut sauce (Tuktray), which is a famous dish in Cambodia - Prahok. There is also a famous dish that uses coconut juice as a seasoning and is eaten in the banana leaf bag - Fish Amok, is also very popular with people. Samchruk, Cambodia's most popular dish, is made from glutinous rice, soy and pork, making it the most popular dish. In addition, the boneless fish soup made from coconut and spice materials is delicious. You can’t miss it.


2、Rice noodle

Rice noodles, made from fine rice noodles, have a smooth and refreshing taste. Rice noodle are Cambodian breakfast. In Cambodia, remember to go to the rice noodle before 12 o'clock in the afternoon, because the rice noodle here is only for breakfast. If you want to taste the spicy flavor of Southeast Asia, you can try the Khmer-style curry. Khmer curry, very spicy, often hot and tearful, is added to almost all soups. At the restaurant in Phnom Penh, visitors can taste the most authentic Khmer dishes. The restaurants in Phnom Penh are also often mixed with Chinese dishes, such as fried noodles, which is because the restaurants in Phnom Penh are mostly run by Chinese. Affected by historical factors, there are also many stalls selling sandwiches made of French bread in Phnom Penh. It is a good snack.


Popular dishes and snacks in Cambodia

Every country has its own specialties or popular dishes. How many dishes do you know about popular Cambodian dishes?  If you don't know, here are some recommended Cambodian specialties for you when you traveling to Cambodia.


Amok, one of the most popular traditional Khmer cuisines and is available in almost every Cambodian restaurant, is baked in banana leaves with meat, chicken, beef and other materials, and then added with coconut milk, coconut milk, lemon leaves and local vegetables and spices, then added to the main ingredients.


Beef Loc Lac, this dish is made from oyster sauce, soy sauce and beef, sometimes with some palm sugar. Traditionally, rice is used to absorb the honey juice, but now it is often accompanied by French fries or an omelet at the top.


Soup Chhnang Dae, the traditional Cambodian hot pot, uses a ceramic pot. The soup base is accompanied by spices and herbs. The taste is sweet and the more cooked and fresh.


Spring Rolls, they are divided into fresh spring rolls and fried spring rolls. The spring rolls are made of glutinous rice and are wrapped in stuffing made of bean sprouts, vermicelli, squid, shrimp, onion, etc..


Cambodian BBQ, it is a kind of hot pot that is baked and eaten. It is very popular in Southeast Asian countries.


Samchruk, is a dish consisting of glutinous rice, soybeans, and pork.


Baguette Sanwiches, Cambodia was once a French colony. Stalls selling baguettes are everywhere in Cambodia.


Tarantula(Fried poison spider), in the small streets of Phnom Penh, you can see a lot of specialty snacks, grilled wild birds, roast ducks, toasted turtles, etc. The most amazing thing is to roast the poisonous spiders.


Drinks in Cambodia

Angkor Beer, is a famous domestic brand in Cambodia, and its output is huge. It is very popular among tourists. It can be bought in most restaurants and bars. The price of a bottle of 660ml is about USD 0.9-1.5 (reference price).


Fruit Shake, is very popular drink in the area. Cambodia is tropical and rich in fruit. Freshly squeezed fresh fruit, together with ice cubes, is made into a unique Fruit Shake.


Recommended restaurants in Cambodia

Central Market in Phnom Penh, is a market where there sells authentic traditional snacks.

Ruby Chinese and Western Restaurant, big bone soup is the signature dish of this restaurant.

Starbucks BKK, is a uniquely designed cafe in the Reserve Starbucks Collection in Phnom Penh.

Piccola Italia Pizzeria, is a fairly traditional Italian pizza restaurant.

Cerbie’s Salad & Sandwish, here you can eat a bowl of delicious hot salad.

Mok Mony Resturant, is a seemingly ordinary and unobtrusive roadside stall family-style Cambodian restaurant.

Viroth’s Hotel & Resturant, is a rapidly rising Angkor Newcomer Hotel Group.

Chanrey Tree Khmer Cuisine, is a traditional Khmer restaurant with a good atmosphere.

Lucky Burger, here you can eat the best fried chicken in Cambodia.

In addition, there are many Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Americans, South Koreans and French restaurants in Cambodia.


Friendly tips about Cambodian food culture

Cambodians believe that the right hand is clean, the left hand is dirty, and the right hand is used when eating. When handing items to others, use your right hand or two hands together, especially when handing something to others, otherwise the other people will refuse to accept it.

Generally, hotels running by Chinese have boiled water, while other hotels offer a free bottle of drinking water every day. Cambodian food and beverage hotels generally do not provide breakfast for free unless they are pre-arranged at an upscale hotel or at check-in. In addition to bottled mineral water, it is best not to drink tap water. Bottled mineral water is available anywhere. Ice cubes for beverages should be used by hotels. Ice cubes in street restaurants or rural areas are best to avoid. Mineral water has different grades, the imported water is the most expensive (such as French mineral water, 1000 ml is about 1 US dollar), followed by local mineral water, while the translucent white plastic bottle (950 ml per bottle) is the most common and most cheap, each bottle is about 500 riels to 1000 riels, but with a plastic taste. Canned beverages (355 ml) are about 2000 riels.

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