Phnom Penh Cambodian and Vietnamese Restaurant: Visited By Celebs

After that simple Mohinga and Curry Noodle Soup lunch in the New Mitzie’s Restaurant, we thought we have some room for some desserts. There was nothing much in terms of desserts in Mitzie’s. We thought of going over to New Town just down the street which we did. Although we ended buying something there, we had it to go for the following day’s breakfast.

The moment I suggested to Suanne, “how about the sticky rice durian in Phnom Penh?”. She immediately said “Yes, let’s go”.

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We had been to Phnom Penh before. We blogged about it 2.5 years ago in this post here.

Phnom Penh has to be the one of the most blogged about restaurant in the whole of Vancouver, if not the most. Just check the list of blog posts on Urbanspoon here. Guess how many blog posts were recorded there … 51! And with this post, that makes 52.

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The reason is simple. They had won countless awards over the years. Some of their dishes are legendary.

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Not only the awards they won. They had visits from some of the top celebrities in the foodie world. Yeah, the celebrities left their mark on their take out menu which they pin up on the notice board by the entrance and waiting area.

Take a real close look at who the best foodie celebrities are. If you can’t read it, click on the picture above and it will show larger in the next page. The top celebrities are ranked in terms of importance from left to right, with the left being the the most famous of all.

Kekeke … (more…)

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Angkor Restaurant on Victoria and 33rd, Vancouver

Among all the north-south arterial roads in Vancouver, for me, one of the least used ones is Victoria Drive.

I will use Granville, Oak, Cambie, Main, Fraser or Knight but hardly Victoria. I like Fraser the best because it has a lot of restaurants along the way. Yeah, as a habit I do look out for restaurants as I drive. Now I am beginning to realize that Victoria too has a lot of Asian restaurants.

As I was driving along Victoria a few weeks ago, we managed to add 7 different restaurants in our to-try list. It looks like we will be coming here a bit more the next few months.

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The one particular restaurant that caught our attention is the Angkor Restaurant. The font and the sign of the restaurant did not stand out. It was the words “Cambodian Noodle House” that made us want to come to this restaurant.

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Until now, I thought that there is only one Cambodian restaurant in Vancouver. We have been to the Phnom Penh restaurant and blogged about them before.

Oh, I had also been to Phnom Penh, the city, before. That was eons ago when I was working for the British American Tobacco and had to travel to Asia Pacific countries as the IT Application Manager. That was one of my most memorable trips. You see, back 15 years or so ago, Phnom Penh is very much a cowboy town. It was quite lawless that the company assigned a driver to be with me 24 hours, partly to protect me too.

When the plane landed in the airport, the driver met me the moment I stepped onto the tarmac (their airport has no aerobridges) and escorted me direct to the car, bypassing customs. The customs at that time were rather corrupt and will inconvenience business travellers. I was told that they will even be happy to take notepads and pens from you. So my company has a special arrangement for its employees. Pretty cool.

And when as I was about to get into the car, the driver pointed to me a hole on the driver side door. “Bullet hole”, he smiled. I asked him how he got that bullet hole. He said he got into an argument with a motorcyclist and the motorocyclist pulled out a gun and shot at his door. OK, I got it. I think he was just trying to tell me never to go out on my own without him.

Phnom Penh was an amazingly flat city. From the plane I had never seen a sight like that. I did not get to see the city on my own at all, the driver always took me to somewhere safe for me … to shops and restaurants for tourists. The city folks love flying kites. There were hundreds of kites in the city square. I wanted to get off to spend time there but the driver said it is not a good idea.

The city was also very dirty with rubbish strewn everywhere. Lots of bikes and people were peddling gas from the side streets … they sold petrol in plastic bags cheaply for the motorcycles. At that time, they were in the midst of changing their road system from one side to the other. So some cars are left hand drive and others are right hand drive. The traffic was chaotic and I swear that there were a few occasions that I thought my driver were going to kill a motorocyclist. Amazing.

The people are very friendly and oh yes, the girls were very pretty and have nice facial features. Those were my memories of Phnom Penh in my brief stay of just three days.

After all these years, I am quite sure that Phnom Penh is a much better place today.

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The restaurant is clean and bright. Actually it looked cleaner compared to the average Asian restaurant. Which is to say that it is good.

Service was good and bad. Maybe I should not say bad. You see, when we got settled down we were served by a middle aged gentleman. He was very friendly and chatty. I talked to him a lot about the menu and all and he was more than obliging. After that he went to the kitchen and we were attended next by someone who looked like his wife or something.

Now, she was suspicious of us because we took notes and pictures. Well, she noticeably treated her other customers more sweetly than us. Actually I don’t blame her because she did not know our intentions and we found it difficult to get the chance to explain. I think I am good at charming people like her but this time I just couldn’t weave my magic.

He he he … she might think that we are one of those Chinese people who are out to copy her food and open a Cambodian restaurant. Who knows, right?

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The menus above are clickable for a larger image. I like their menu. It is well laid out, informative and most of all there are clear pictures of what the dishes looked like. Their menu is in FOUR languages: Khmer, Vietnamese, Chinese and English. The prices are in English.

The menu is definitely smaller compared to Phnom Penh’s menu but still it is definitely enough there for the adventurous foodie.

One thing that jumped at us is that it is a lot of pork, pork, pork. I assumed that Cambodian cuisine is closely related to Vietnamese which is beef, beef, beef. Apparently not in terms of the meat.

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We told ourselves we are not going to just order a couple of mains but also order an appetizer and a dessert too. We don’t normally order this much but there are so much in the menu we wanted to try.

So we started off with the Papaya Salad which is $7.

A delightfully looking dish … (more…)

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Pho Tai Hoa on Capstan Way in Richmond

Updated 2nd February 2013: This restaurant is closed.

This was a few weeks ago … when there were still a bit of snow. This years seems to have a lot of snow compared to the previous few years. I think the worse is now behind us now … unless mother nature decides we get another dump as a parting winter gift. Spring is sure slow in coming this year, huh?

Anyway … cold weather = hot soup.

And … hot steaming soup = pho.

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We knew about this place for a little while already and had it on our “to try” list for a couple of months at least. Pho Tai Hoa is new, I think. It is located at the strip mall where Richmond Sushi is and fronts Capstan Way. You will see Pho Tai Hoa driving along Capstan Way but you need to walk around the corner from the car park to see it.

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Pho Tai Hoa seems to be a former seafood restaurant or something. The decor is sea themed which is kind of out of place for a pho place. Still this is one of the cleanest and neatest Vietnamese Pho restaurants we had ever been to. Seems like they pay a lot of attention to details. That, to me, is a sign of a good restaurant and speaks volumes of the people who run this restaurant.

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I love their tea cups. This is even better than most upper scale restaurants. We also like the color choice of the table cloth (under a glass surface for practical reasons). Details, details.

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Suanne ordered the Hu Tieu Nam Vang (Cambodian Style Rice Noodle in Soup) which came served in a glass bowl. They gave a lot of green onions — the way we like it.

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In it are pork ribs, prawns, pork slices, quail eggs, and pork liver. So, you can see that it’s really loaded with ingredients. This is a perfect choice if you want hot soup noodles but wanted to try something else other than pho. The regular is $6.25 and the large one is $7.25.

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I have been eating way too much and wanted to take something lighter. The Bi Cuon ($5) was what I had. (more…)

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Pho Queen Restaurant in Richmond

It had been abnormally cold the past week or so here in Vancouver. It’s kind of unbelievable that we have temperatures below the freezing point even in high afternoon. The sun was shining ever so brightly but as soon as you step out doors, you just feel the chill right down into the bones.

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The boys were away at their friends which leaves Suanne and I alone again. It’s a blessing that we have more time to our own but then again, we know that as the boys gets older, they will spend lesser and lesser time with us. Eating out together is what I had always enjoyed.

Suanne and I had nothing much in mind. Weekend after weekend, we normally do not know what we wanted to eat. When it is time to eat, we just jump into the car and drive. We decided to drive to the Union Square, a strip mall with lots of Chinese restaurants along Capstan Way. Since it was so cold, we actually were thinking of either pho or hot pot. We decided to check out the Pho Queen.

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Pho Queen had just opened because I recall this place used to be a Chinese restaurant. Pho Queen is perhaps the classiest Vietnamese restaurant around because they have a chandelier in the middle of the dining room. The restaurant is roomy and spacious because obviously this used to be a large Chinese restaurant. Even the tables are the expensive marble ones.

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Their menu had a lot more varieties than the usual pho places. Despite the name Pho Queen, their menu is dominated by the non-pho stuff. The pricing is very reasonable with a large bowl of pho at $6.50 to $7.00. They even have Cambodian dishes.

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I had the Egg Yolk Condensed Milk with Soda on Ice. How does that sound to you? What a weird combination right? This one is $3.00. It does seem to me it is blended although I am not sure exactly how this is prepared. It just tastes like a very rich but fizzy milk to me. (more…)

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Phnom Penh in Vancouver Chinatown

Suanne and I met up with Ed and Christina of Doesn’t Tazte Like Chicken for a weekend dinner. This time it was them who chose the location. We enjoy having going out with them because they are as real a foodie as it comes. We learn a lot from them and most of all we enjoyed their stories … like $200 sashimi and having Kobe Beef in Japan.

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We went to Phnom Penh located in Chinatown. Although we had heard so much of the place we had never been there before. I was kind of surprised to find that it’s located in such a quiet street. In the evening when we were there, Phnom Penh was about the only shop opened on the whole street.

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I was taken aback how popular this restaurant is. It was utterly packed. Ed made reservation prior to coming but it was quite useless because even with reservation, we had to wait quite a bit past the time.

I can imagine how popular this place is judging by the many awards and newspaper clippings they had accumulated throughout the years. I even see that one award was dated back 12 years (1992!) … so they must have been around for ages.

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Even Anthony Bourdain ate here before and signed a copy of their takeout menu. Gosh … if I were them I would frame it up instead of leaving it pinned on the board. That signed menu is a huge bragging right if you ask me.

I actually had half a mind of doing one for them too … you know, “Fantastic Meal, Many Thanks … Chowtimes, Ben and Suanne” LOL!

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Suanne and I shared a drink called Soda Egg. I am not exactly sure what this is but does remind me of the Egg Cream (which has neither egg nor cream) I had in New York. (more…)

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Duffin’s Donuts on Main St.

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I can’t really describe this place. Duffin’s Donuts had been an icon in Vancouver Eastside for a long time. Driving past a Duffin’s Donuts, one gets the impression that it’s a shop selling donuts only but when you get into the store, you’ll find that it’s definitely much much more than just donuts.

Duffin’s is actually a Cambodian family owned joint, originally located on Main and 33rd. They are famous for their homemade fresh donuts and Vietnamese subs. But then they also serve all kinds of food from Mexican Tortas, bubble tea, fried chicken, Chinese rice and noodles, — the selection is amazing.

We went to the Duffin’s Donuts on 41st and Main.

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Arkensen ordered a double cheese burger for $4.79. The burger looks juicy. I like the buns in that it’s does not look dry at all.

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Suanne ordered Machaca sandwich for $3.50. The hot sandwich is made up of shredded beef, lettuce, tomato, slice onion, pickled pepper, avocado on a crusty roll — tasty and filing.

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