31 Friday Aug 2012

Cambodian BBQ

Summer weather is the perfect weather for spending some quality time at the pool and having BBQ.  For this blog, I will attempt to provide some insights on some popular locations where BBQ are served.

BBQ in Cambodia is a blend of various flavors and involves several cooking techniques. Since I am not a food expert, I won’t be able to describe in the extent that it deserves.  More importantly I only want to let our readers on the insider tips on where to find these street BBQ in Phnom Penh.

1. near WAT BOTUM pagoda

At dusk, there is a gathering of youngsters and adults flocking near the Vietnamese Friendship monument, across from Wat Botum pagoda.  Beside this gathering, small street vendors will set up their shops, serving our infamous BBQ.   Grilled beef on stick is the most popular among these street foods.  Typically the beef sticks are served with pickled cucumbers, green papaya and carrots.  Add a pinch of chilli paste into the pickles and the dish is ready to be eaten.
(see map below for WAT BOTUM street food vendors)

 

2. near Phsar Thmei (or Central Market)

Don’t make the mistake and go to the Central Market, but instead go to Pasteur Street, a few blocks East of Central Market.  Around dusk, you can find several street vendors holla back at customers as they pass by.  BBQ beef skewers and chicken wings are among the favorite grilled dishes here.   Often you will find sliced baguette bread toasted with butter and other sorts of grilled meat.
(see map below for location)

3. in front of the Royal Palace

This particular spot is not hard to miss.  In front of the Royal Palace, there is a small patch of green grass, or so called Mok Vaeng park.  Beside it, small street vendors are setup.  Here you will find grilled dried squid and beef.  Unlike beef skewer, the grilled dried squid and beef are compressed in a food-roller to a fine thickness prior to being grilled.  Once cooked, they are served with pickles cucumbers, papaya and carrots.  Sometimes you can find the grilled dried squid and beef on a rolling cart or wagon along the river front.
(see map below for location)

Beside these locations, BBQ are be easily found inside the local markets such as Phsar Thmei (Central Market), Toul Tompong (Russian Market), Oruessey Market, and the Night Market.

Some other BBQ that you can find in Cambodia are more of local delicacies.  During Chinese ceremonial days, you will find along Monivong Boulevard many glass wagons/carts selling roasted pork, chicken and duck. Similar to Peking duck, they are often confused.  These BBQ are not typically found at the household kitchen.

Roasted beef (or whole cow roasted on a pit) is often served at local Cambodian pubs and restaurants. Normally the restaurants will decorated with Angkor or beer lighting signs and roasted beef pit station in front.  It is easy to spot them from far away because of these bright lighting signs.

Whether it is street vendor BBQ or restaurant style BBQ, Cambodia has it all.  Grilled beef to honey roasted pork are favorites among the locals.

 

23 Thursday Aug 2012

Two Best Places to Go Shopping in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is filled with color and culture, and the best place to experience this charming city is at the traditional market, a shopping center stocked with memorable souvenirs for family, friends and co-workers. In my opinion, there are two traditional markets that are the best for these type of shopping.

Central Market

Psar Thmey
Phsar Thmey was built during the French colonial era in 1937.  The architecture has a strange shape with an impressive art deco structure that got a hint of Khmer lotus about it. In other words, it is an artistic collaboration between French and Cambodian styles. Continue reading

21 Tuesday Aug 2012

The Sothea – luxury boutique hotel in Siem Reap

The Sothea, once was called Alila Sothea Siem Reap, sprinkles light and romance as I reminisce about this place.  It’s true beauty, with Bali influence, is indescribable.  Located on National Highway 6, the hotel is built with a giant enclosed limestone wall, all covered in green leaves and vines.  At night, a glimpse of light flickers on the tiny wooden sign, THE SOTHEA, barely noticeable to the passing cars.   The word grandiose may be the right word as you enter the main front entrance.  A wall of paintings, some seem largely displayed and framed while some hang in disarrayed patterns, descending water steps creating a square moat surrounding a green patch of grass in the middle, and an open sky enclosure are at your presence as you pass through the main gate.   Running water from the water steps mimics the sound of dripping water drops, entertaining guests as they are greeted to the check-in counter.

While looking pass the check-in counter, a view to an outdoor pool is within reach.  I’ve attached a photo below.

The Sothea Hotel Siem Reap

Rows of pool lounge chairs are escorted along both side of the pool.  At the end of it, a giant white marble stone in the shape of a sleeping woman is placed in the middle.   The rooms surrounding the pool have the most exquisite access to it.  If you’re lucky, the rooms open to the pool with a floating deck.  On a hot summer day, the guest can lounge on their private floating-on-water deck or simply jump into the pool from their deck.

The room is another indescribable sight. The floor and ceiling are covered in dark-color wood, well polished that you can almost see your own reflection.  A white cover bed sheet gives a high contrast against the dark-color wood floor.  The furniture looks like they were selected from the Pottery Barn category, hand-selected for this Victorian style room.   I never forget the white porcelain shower tub with its animal-like shaped legs, silver in color, pronged on four corners on top of the bathroom floor.  The sense of calamity is washed away as soon as you set your foot into the bedroom.

Having stayed at The Sothea, I think 5 stars is understated for this hotel.

14 Tuesday Aug 2012

Bambu Hotel Battambang

On the several occasions that I made way to Battambang province, the northeastern part of Cambodia, finding accommodation in this city is frantically better than years ago.  Boutique hotels are not well publicized, but now thank to the world wide web, we can now find these amazing hidden boutique hotels through Google.  For this post, I want to share with our readers about my impression of Bambu Hotel in Battambang.

Bambu Hotel is situated on K.O Street, the infamous street of Battambang. In prior years, K.O Street was well known for its red light district.  Nowadays this street has become tame and highly respected by many locals.

The 16 room boutique hotel confounds me with its most unexpected atmosphere, or so-called “luxury in the middle of a rice farming province”.  Passing through the reception area, you are welcomed to an outdoor bar, and an enormous outdoor swimming pool thereafter.  A quick glance, without having being in it, you won’t have guessed that this is one of those salted (non-chorine) pools. The idea of having a salted body of water in a landlocked province seems comical to me, but it still beats having a pool than not having one, especially during the hot summer days.

Bambu Hotel Battambang

The rooms are built in the expectation of rural Cambodian housing.  Wood planks and wooden armoires are found in each room.  Even though air conditioning is available, each room is complete with mosquito net for each bed. No complaints there.

During one of my stays, the weather was not on my side and I was stranded at the hotel for dinner.  Surprisingly I was astonished by the food prepared at this hotel.  The fried rice is so delicious and merely simple.  The presentation and place setting wows your appetite and the staff are really amicable, making the meal even more enjoyable.

Bambu Hotel Battambang

Overall this hotel ranks high on my list of hotels in Battambang.  A couple of other hotels in Battambang are Le Villa Hotel and Phka Villa Hotel.

13 Monday Aug 2012

Souvenir Shopping Ideas in Cambodia

If you’ve been too distracted by Cambodia’s serene and natural beauty, you may have overlooked the fact that shops are limited even though there are a few shopping locales that we’ve mentioned in a previous post here. Even then, if you are leaving Cambodia and returning home or you are leaving to visit friends and families abroad, you still need to find souvenirs. This can be challenging.

Of course, you can buy the tried and tested favorite souvenirs such as the T-shirts, scarves, pillow cases, purses, etc.  Those can all be found at the Night Market in Siem Reap or at the Russian Market in Phnom Penh.  Other places to find those types of souvenirs in Phnom Penh is to wander on Street 240 or the Street 178 by the National Museum.

Some of the places I like to find my souvenirs are on Street 240 and Street 178 in Phnom Penh. What I’ve found to be excellent souvenirs are handmade beauty products such as handmade soaps you can buy from Bodia Spa or Senteurs d’Angkor. Both of these spas have locations in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.  All of the products they sell are made in Cambodia and all natural. The scents from Senteurs d’Angkor are a little stronger than the scents from Bodia so if you’re buying for guys, I would suggest buying products from Bodia. Also don’t forget to check out the candles too!

Other great souvenirs are the Kampot Pepper and other spices.  If you stroll around the grocery stores, sometimes you can find them already neatly packaged for you.  It’s cheaper to buy here than from places like Bodia.  Another option is just to buy the spices in bulk and wrap it up later on your own.  That way you get a little DIY project from it while adding a personal touch to your gifts.

To go along with the spices you’ve bought for your friends and family, consider going to a book store and picking up a Khmer cookbook.  The books are written in English and easy to understand. The book stores also offer other books about Cambodia and some would make great coffee table books.

If handmade clothing products are what you’re after, I suggest you browse the little shops sprinkled in and out of Pub Street in Siem Reap and Street 240 in Phnom Penh.  There you can find shops with handmade products made by certain disadvantaged groups.  Their products are just as good as the others with the added bonus that you are supporting their cause by buying their products.  You can empower their work and give them a sense of dignity. Win-Win.

13 Monday Aug 2012

Elephant Bar @ Raffles Royal Hotel Phnom Penh

I’ve always wanted to write a post about the Elephant Bar.   It is not surprising that many expats and locals are fond of this place.  It does not matter whether it is a Monday or Friday evening, the Elephant Bar at Raffles Royal Hotel in Phnom Penh is always swamped by various customers – local bar hoppers, business travelers, or families, who enjoy a little flare of western culture.

Elephant Bar @ Raffles Royal Hotel Phnom Penh

What I like most about this place is the small private enclosed sitting area, surrounded by dropped-down curtains and couches formed in a perfect square.  You feel as if you’re in your own little cocoon and you can sit back and enjoy the company of your friends.   When you come here at the opportune time, a pianist will humbly dabble songs from classic Beethoven, Chopin to modern day Coldplay.  The background sound of a piano playing is so soothing but not loud enough to distract one from a conversation.  You can fancy yourself to a billiard pool or the various board games that this little bar has to offer.

Happy Hour is a must go.  Don’t miss out the 50% off discount.  You can order your very own Jackie Kennedy’s signature drink, the femme fatale, as if she was there with you to enjoy this concoction.   The atmosphere during Happy Hour is buzzing with hotel guests but most often locals are the among the favorite bar customers here.  Catching up with friends or meeting new people, this bar has it all.

Elephant Bar @ Raffles Royal Hotel Phnom Penh

10 Friday Aug 2012

Stonegrill Restaurant & Bar – in Phnom Penh

Driving along the riverside, you are easily mesmerized by many restaurants and bars from left to right.  Among them is the newest, swanky, unique and vibrant restaurant, Stonegrill Restaurant & Bar.  Situated alongside Gloria Jean’s Cafe at the riverside, this newest addition brings new flavor and eating technique to Cambodia.

What amazes me the most is the buy-one-get-one-free cocktail, served in a gigantic martini glass.  See the picture below for proof.

Stonegrill Restaurant & Bar

Well the best thing about this restaurant is its eating style.  You are served a flesh slab of meat and a hot stone.  To eat, you must sear the meat and place them onto this burning hot stone.  Once cooked to your desire, you start enjoying this readily cooked meat.  YUMMY!

Stonegrill Restaurant & Bar

HAPPY HOUR – 05:00pm To 08:00pm
BUY 1 GET 1 FREE – EVERYDAY ** Note: For Cocktail Only **

09 Thursday Aug 2012

Swimming Pools in Phnom Penh : A short guide to finding swimming pool

 

Wat Phnom

Wat Phnom

Phnom Penh is the capital city of Cambodia. During my free time, what I really like to do is to visit some places in Phnom Penh. On my weekend, I always visit the river side in front of Royal Palace where I can get some fresh air from the river, see Wat Phnom and shopping mall. This weekend, I am spending it at the swimming pool. Here are some places that we can enjoy swimming with our friends and family.

 

Himawari Hotel
313 Sisowath Quay,
Phnom Penh
T: (023) 214 555
www.himawarihotel.com

#BOOK HOTEL HERE#

Hotel Cambodiana
313 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 426 288
www.hotelcambodiana.com.kh

#BOOK HOTEL HERE#

Swimming Pool, The Cambodiana Hotel

Swimming Pool, The Cambodiana Hotel

Intercontinental Hotel
296 Mao Tse Toung Boulevard, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 424 888

www.ichotelsgroup.com/intercontinental/en/gb/locations/phnompenh
#BOOK HOTEL HERE#

Raffles Hotel Le Royal
92 Rukhak Vithei Daun Penh, Sangkat Wat Phnom, Phnom Penh
T:  (023) 981 888
www.raffles.com/phnom-penh

#BOOK HOTEL HERE#

swimming pool, Raffle Le Royal

swimming pool, Raffle Le Royal

Blue Lime
42, Street 19z (off Street 19), Phnom Penh
T: (023) 222 260
www.bluelime.asia

#BOOK HOTEL HERE#

Blue Lime

Blue Lime

The 252
19 Street 252,
 Phnom Penh
T: (023) 998 252
www.the-252.com

#BOOK HOTEL HERE#

The Eighty8
98 Street 88, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 500 2440
www.facebook.com/Eighty8Hotel
#BOOK HOTEL HERE#

Sundance Inn
‪61AB Street 172, Phnom Penh
T: (016) 802 090
www.sundancecambodia.com

#BOOK HOTEL HERE#

The Plantation
# 28, street 184 – Phnom Penh, Cambodia – +855 (0) 23 21 51 51
www.theplantation.asia
#BOOK HOTEL HERE#

Swimming Pool, The Plantation

Swimming Pool, The Plantation

I believe all these pools are great places to relax. Why not book a night at the  hotel and enjoy the pool at the same time?

 

08 Wednesday Aug 2012

THANSUR BOKOR HIGHLAND RESORT – Kampot, Bokor Mountain, Cambodia

During the summer, Cambodians often travel to remote areas to celebrate Tean Vorsa buddhist ceremony. In Buddhism, Tean Vorsa is a window of time in the rainy season where many Cambodians bring together plenty of food and household necessities to the pagoda or temple, especially those deemed remote or inaccessible by common transportation.  This summer, Bokor mountain has been raving with many locals who go there for Tean Vorsa celebration.

Now that Thansur Bokor Highland Resort is inaugurated, local Cambodians can take the opportunity to spend one to two nights on this amazing, infamous mountain, while they visit Sompeu Pram Pagoda.

The drive to this mountain is spectacular. I recommend everyone to visit this place.  In the rainy season, the waterfall on this mountain is a must-see place.  Access to the waterfall is quite tricky.   Please contact the local people on the mountain or the resort for instructions.

08 Wednesday Aug 2012

Artillery. art. cafe. bar. Phnom Penh

I keep procrastinating myself from sitting down and writing this post.  Well here is my thought of ARTILERY.

For today’s post, I’m actually writing about a quaint little restaurant near the Royal Palace.  If you’re not familiar with Street 240 and Street 244, this little tucked away restaurant may be difficult to locate.  I suggest readers to check out google map and don’t go on a wimp.  Please take my advice seriously.

ARTILLERY restaurant is one of the well-known art, cafe, and bar in Phnom Penh.  Once you have discovered where it is, you can really appreciate the quiet and cozy atmosphere this place brings.  Outdoor tables are spread out along the store front, dovetailed in its own corner.  Along the wall broken blue-color china (plates) are decorated, making it more rustic than the rest of the street.  Once seated, you will become aware of the surrounding buildings and houses that makes this restaurant seem out-of-place.  The silent noise is a privilege here, now that all main streets are well no where near by.  It is still difficult to find a peaceful joint to hangout in Phnom Penh, which is why I find a great honor in this place.

ARTILLERY Art. Cafe. Bar

The menu has variety of organic ingredients, fruits and vegetables.  One of my favorite dish is the bruschetta bread served with fresh minced tomatoes and mint leaves topped with a zesty taste from balsamic vinegar. One bit will simply put your mouth asking for more. Beside this recommended dish, please feel free to indulge yourself with other course.

This is definitely one finest place to have a Sunday brunch.  You’ll find this place is perfect for the healthy and earthly breakfast drinks and foods. Challenge my bias opinion and check it out yourself.  And don’t forget to bring friends along.