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.
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.
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.