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3.268 Fried Frog in Khmer Spices


-Cycle 3, Item 268-
29 (Sat) September 2012

-Cambodian-
Fried Frog in Khmer Spices

0.5

at Sky High Bar & Restaurant

-Phnom Penh-

CAMBODIA

With Kim SY, Lee Y, Seng B

WHO Research Trip, Day 2

If only to add "frog" to the list of By Ingredients list, I gave it a shot.  Among the 3 types of preparation offered on the menu, I chose the one featuring Khmer spices, wanting it to be authentically Cambodian.  When the dish came, I was surprised to see that it wasn't just the legs but also other parts of the body, including little pieces of spine, which I thought would make for a cooler if grislier photo.  At first bite, the spices were all I could taste, extremely rich and flavorful, typical of the curry-like melange found in many dishes throughout Southeast Asia.  But then, after a few serious chews, the frog came through.  When I visualize a frog living in a pond, and I imagine what it might taste like--that's what this tasted like.  I thought maybe that it was an acquired taste but not one that I aspired to acquire.  I was told by our Cambodian dining companion that frog shouldn't taste like that.  He speculated that, while frog is fairly popular at casual, country-style restaurants, the customers at this relatively upscale establishment would tend to opt for fancier fare, leaving the kitchen's frog supply untouched and kept too long on ice and thus less than optimally fresh.  Oh well.  The green beans, bell peppers, and other vegetables in the dish were okay.  At least it was only US$4. 

The Sky High Bar & Restaurant is located on the top floor of Mekong View Tower with a distant but grand view of Phnom Penh's expat/tourist popular Sisowath Quay (Riverside) across the Mekong River.

Table condiments included minced red chilies and garlic, as well as a tasty peppery fish sauce.

Chinese kale/broccoli (gailan), for some reason shaved, in garlic sauce (2.5).

Steamed jasmine rice, of course.

green mango salad (1.0)

The most popular local beer is Angkor, a hoppy lager--pretty good.

The steamed clams weren't so great (0.5).

The sweet & sour fish soup wasn't so great (1.0).

The best dish of the evening was this Amok Trey, one of Cambodia's most famous dishes, which consists of fish in coconut-kroeung sauce, another curry-like concoction (4.0).

My first papaya ever, and I didn't like it (I don't like fruit in general).

Earlier in the day, we had lunch at Orchidee, a Cambodian restaurant located across the street from our hotel.  Being my first real meal in the country, not counting breakfast in the hotel a few hours prior, I didn't know what to expect, but it turns out that Cambodian food shares a lot in common with the culinary traditions of neighboring countries, especially Thailand.  Our local contact would later inform me that many dishes popularized globally as "Thai" would be considered "Cambodian" by the natives.  Dishes heavily influenced by Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine are also very commonplace.  So, a majority of the dishes on the menu seemed very familiar.  And for someone accustomed to the exorbitant food prices in Korea (and certain other parts of the world), I was shocked at how cheap everything was--most dishes ranging between US$3-$6 (most things here are charged in US dollars)--even though such prices would be regarded as expensive by domestic standards.  Overall, it was a great meal.  Welcome to Cambodia!


The view of Orchidee from my hotel room, quite literally "across the street."

The main dining area looked like a resort lobby.

Tourist-friendly menus with photos and English descriptions.

water spinach in garlic sauce (3.5)

rice noodles with beef (3.0)

crab fried rice (3.0)

shrimp in red curry (3.5)

Korean soju--just $3.50 a pop!

6 comments:

  1. You know there's a North Korean state-owned restaurant in Phom Phen right? It's called 평양랭면 (actaul spelling) and their signature dish is, not surprisingly, (물)냉면. When I visited the restaurant last year I had some 냉면 which I liked but found a bit too bland, or not as spicy as in South Korea. But from your earlier posts on food from the Northern part of the peninsula I guess North Korean food is normally less spicy than South Korean?

    Anyway, if you're not afraid to spend money which is probably gonna finance a new palace for Kim Jong-un, and/or are curious to meet and talk to actual North Koreans... I recommend that place

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  2. heeeeeeey! we actually went to that restaurant for lunch on sunday!!! i'm going to write about next!!! that's so funny. a bit of a preview of what i was going to write about: generally, i found that the food was actually more southernized than i'd expected. for example, they added red chili powder to the mandu guk that i had, and north koreans never do that. the mandu itself was also very seasoned, whereas traditional north korean mandu is very white (a lot of tofu and some pork). i have a photo of the menu that says "랭료리" for what the south would write as "냉요리," so i guess we both noticed that one!

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  3. omg, you wrote about eating iffy pieces of old frog? GROSS. The depiction of frog parts sitting around... well, I don't know whether to be disgusted by the image that popped into my head or impressed by your writing that caused the image to pop into my head.

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  4. the writing had nothing to do with it, because it was gross as i was eating it.

    but seriously, it must be one of those things like lamb. lamb isn't always so fresh, and it does have that gamy odor, sometimes more than less, and for people who like lamb, the odor doesn't really matter that much, but it can be really off-putting to others.

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  5. I don't think you used enough commas in that last sentence. Surely you can squeeze in one more.

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  6. i missed one between the "and" and "people." good catch, thanks.

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