veg food update: battambang, northwest cambodia.

Readers, I’m most sorry for the break in veg-restaurant-related postings; I’ve been in India for the past month and had little to no internet for most of that time. The good side is that now I have a bit of a backlog to entertain You the Reader with; the downside is it’s not Happening-As-You-Read-It Cutting-Edge-News-Flash type of material. I may have eaten the meal described WEEKS before you read about it! Who cares!
I don’t know what you’d be doing exactly in Battambang, but it is the second largest city in Cambodia (not saying all that much). It has nothing to see per se except for some colonial French architecture; that said, there are plenty of tourists. The locals are very nice here, in any case, and I’m told there are tourist attractions in the hills around town; I won’t talk about that, however, but about the edibles.
MERCY HOUSE VEGETARIAN FOOD (Corner of Street 3, NW of produce market). No sign is visible with the name, but on some tinted glass doors you can see ‘Welcome’ and some Cambodian and Chinese I assume says the same. Within they will give a menu with breakfast foods, rice dishes, noodle dishes, Western dishes, and three pages of various bubble teas, fruit shakes, and desserts. You are meant to write your order on a slip of paper on which is written: “Please write your order here. And hand it to us. We are happy to serve. Tks.”

I had “Fried noodle with curry”, which was 4,000 bhat ($1). It was like ramen on a plate- exactly like ramen on a plate- in a watery sauce and some fake meat and green fried vegetables. Took about five bites to finish it. Served with slippery rounded metal chopsticks. On the wall are fanciful Photoshopped posters of the various dessert items served, with captions in English, Chinese, and Cambodian. You also get a free pot of tea and a tiny glass to sip it from. Nice people, but the food was only decent.

BATTAMBANG VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT (across the street from Mercy House). I went here first but the woman there said “Close” and told me to come back in the morning- they are only open until 11am! Great food and they would win the best food in Battambang award except for those crazy hours. The menu has a few noodle soups, steamed buns, and coffee. Well, I had a noodle soup, a steamed bun, and coffee. The noodle soup was fantastic. The bun was essentially just filler, with paper stuck to the bottom of it, but I dipped it in some hot sauce and it was good. The coffee was excellent. I don’t recall the prices, but I would guess soup was 4,000r, dumpling was 1,000r, and coffee 2,000r = $1.75 total. This is a family-run place, so there were also a few little kids running around blowing bubbles while I ate. Nice people, and a great place if you are hungry for noodles between 6:30am-11:30am and happen to be a vegetarian in north Battambang.

Cooking noodles at B'bang Veg Restaurant

Kids blowing bubbles and such

the menu

the sign

BREAKFAST! Noodles, dumpling, coffee...

MEY MEY SHOP: ONE OF A KIND (Neak Baan Tenk night market, West Bank riverside). I don’t normally review non-veg places because they are profiting by killing animals, but in Cambodia you have to take what you can get, and pure veg places are few-to-none. This place is a stall where a woman shouts out “Hello” to any non-Cambodian she sees; while normally I’d not dine at such a place, the fact that the woman had an English-speaking daughter to whom I could make my veg requests clear was what led me to eat there. They have a laminated menu showing locals carousing at the stall, and a few tourists enjoying meals. I ordered “Fried Yellow Noodle” ($1.50), and told them I was going to take a photo of the sunset and come back to eat. When I came back, the daughter said “I think you no come back!” but I got my meal. I also got a coconut shake, which, according to the menu, is “Special to Battambang” ($1). The shake was excellent- very, very good. The noodles were like spaghetti noodles in a sauce with a lot of black pepper and a scrambled egg and some green fibrous vegetables. Sounds nasty, but it was pretty good- easily the best non-soup food I’ve ever had in Cambodia (not saying much). You also get free ice-cold water and the portions are giant, easily the largest I’ve ever seen in Cambodia (not saying much). The downside is the location: a lot of mosquitos and mother-and-baby beggars going table to table.

Coconut shake; women cooking my dinner in the background

dinner!

Near the end of my meal, I heard some vaguely rockabilly music coming from the other side of the river and decided to check it out. In neighboring Thailand, country music is HOT, and I’ve had the misfortune of seeing some of the live country acts, such as the Khorat Cowboys. So, I thought maybe Thailand’s gone country and Cambodia’s gone rockabilly and boogie-woogie rhythm & blues. Well, it turned out to be a bunch of middle-aged people doing aerobics under cover of darkness in the park, a popular pastime in Cambodia; the young instructor’s taste apparently ran to high-octane female-fronted Cambodian pseudo-rockabilly for one song- after that it went back to straight Cambodian dance pop. Ah well! For 500 riel, or 13 cents, you can join in the aerobics, but it started raining and I went home.

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Filed under cambodia, food & drink, vegetarianism

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