First of all Cambodia is known for a whole host of cultural wonders, but one element of this fascinating country that always seems to get overlooked is its magical munchies. Furthermore, having gone unnoticed by the naive for years, the Cambodian street food game is now exploding and there are more weird and wonderful dishes out there than ever before.
Travel is of course about new experiences and new cultures, and the Cambodian food scene is a prime example of that. It’s safe to say that Pizza Hut and McDonalds will always be there for times of comforting need, but today we are stepping away from the foodie status quo, and diving belly first into the underground Cambodian street food scene.
Strap on a feedbag and prepare your tastebuds for a trip to infinity and beyond. These are the 9 dishes everyone who steps foot in Cambodia should try…
The Hottest Cambodian Street Food Dishes of 2017
We’ve been around the Cambodian-edible-block more times than we care to remember, and we’ve unearthed tasty revelations that would leave Gordon Ramsey and Rachael Ray on all fours begging for a portion of seconds.
The added bonus of Cambodia street food…
It’s almost as cheap as air. So instead of snacking on whatever gaseous elements are currently invading your personal space, trade that in for a sumptuous dish made freshly by one of the many talented local chefs. These Cambodian street foods are perfect options for all travelers lucky enough to have the opportunity to sample them. 9 lashings of the proverbial whip for any of you that are too chicken to try them!
Here we go! Hope you’re hungry…
Cambodian Street Food: LORT CHA
With the sun beating down over head and no shortage of tuk tuk drivers trying to serenade us into their three-wheeled mobile, it’s time we had our first snack. We’ve opted for the Lort Cha, as it’s not to intimidating on the stomach and happens to be one of the most popular Cambodian street food dishes to date.
Embrace the sizzle…
This dynamic dish is a stir fried fantasy that’s sure to delight. It’s made up of short fat rice noodles (“Lort“) that are tossed around the grill with bean sprouts, Chinese broccoli and chives. If you’re veggie it’s time to grab your portion now. Otherwise, it’s mixed with a delicious combo of succulent beef and topped with a fried egg.
This noodle-tastic treat is also usually served up with an extra special thick red sauce, which brings a whole host of sweet and spice flavours to the party.
There are Lort Cha street food vendors all over Cambodia and they’re usually found cheffing up a storm at local markets. Keep an eye out for the vendors where locals are eating – this is always a sign of extra special munchies.
Next up, it’s smelling a bit fishy…
Cambodian Street Food: FISH AMOK
For any of you pescatarians out there, this Cambodian street food dish will certainly go a long way to feeding your fish fetish. Fish amok is the most famous curry in Cambodia, and it deserves to be looking down from its pedestal on other attempts to snatch the Cambodian curry throne.
It’s not only ridiculously tasty, it’s a work of art…
The nationally renowned snack is conjured by cooking fish mousse with coconut curry inside a hive of banana leaves. A wide selection of spices including lemongrass, tumeric root, kaffir lime, and the rare local herb slok ngor are embedded within the recipe. A flavoursome pool party that packs a different spice punch with every bite.
If your wish is for fish, this has got you sorted.
Cambodian Street Food: BAMBOO STICKY RICE
Right, after two slightly heavier dishes, it’s time for something a little lighter. Can’t be getting bloated before lunch time!
You’d be forgiven for thinking these street food vendors are selling huge wooden bongs, but unfortunately (or fortunately) the treat that is hidden inside these bamboo sticks provides a different remedy…
This unique Cambodian street food dish is made with sticky rice, black beans, grated coconut, and coconut milk. These ingredients are laid to rest comfortably inside the bamboo stick before being slowly roasted on a charcoal fire until it’s nom nom time.
It’s a banging snack that combines sweet, salty, and smoky goodness all in one. The town of Battambang is the home of bamboo sticky rice, where the locals usually refer to it as “Kralan”.
Next up, here’s one for you Frenchies…
Cambodian Street Food: SNAILS
Sacrebleu! Don’t worry Édouard Philippe, the Cambodians haven’t stolen your snail economy. They’ve put their own inventive spin on it and it’s working absolute wonders.
Vendors prepare and cook their little snail buddies, before carting them out to slowly roast under the sizzling Cambodian sun. You can usually get your snails marinated in either a red chilli sauce or with garlic and chilli salt.
Word of warning, snails can be a real bugger for the bowels if they aren’t cooked properly, so be sure to inspect your portion politely before chowing down.
Cambodian Street Food: ICED COFFEE
Four dishes down and it’s time to relax, chill, and chillax with an iced beverage. Here comes an energetic kick up the ass before the grand finale of the Cambodian street food extravaganza.
Small iced coffee carts have been part of the Cambodian foodie furniture for a long time, and they’re not going anywhere! Coffee beans in Cambodia go through a unique harvesting process. These keen beans are dried out in the sun before being slowly roasted, making sure they retain all goodness.
Two options. Your frozen caffeinated treats can be whisked up with the infamous black ice, for those of you who like it extra strong. For those of you with a sweet tooth, we’d recommend adding the condensed milk option to your iced coffee.
We like them a latte… (Had to.)
Cambodian Street Food: CHIVE CAKES
While chive cakes originated in China, the Cambodian street food gurus are taking it upon themselves to evolve the taste experience.
Instead of being drowned in heaps of unnecessary herbs and spices, the Cambodians have kept it simple, using just plain flour and a bunch of charismatic chives. The cakes are then pan fried and served up with a sweet and spicy fish sauce that is Southeast Asian through and through.
Crispy on the outside and as chewy as it gets on the inside. A delicacy which is likened to a fritter on steroids. Cheers China!
Cambodian Street Food: GRILLED PORK SKEWERS
No matter where you are in the edible universe, grilled pork skewers are always going down an absolute storm. These little fellows would headline any Cambodian street food BBQ festival.
It’s an incredibly popular snack for travelers and locals who are looking to get a quick and delicious protein pack. If you’re feeling like a heartier portion, most of these street food carts will give you the option to accompany this meaty madness with a portion of rice and veggies.
Prepare your mouths for a flavour party, because all the most mouth-watering aromas are invited. All night long baby!
BONUS: Watch our friend Sonny from Best Ever Food Review Show get his skewer on at Central Market in Phnom Penh. His skewers are a little more adventurous than the ones described above…
Cambodian Street Food: BALUT
Now, this local mouthful is one of the more intimidating features on our Cambodian street food menu…
Like the kid who always farted in maths class, this is known as one of the most stinky street food options in Cambodia.
Apologies for those of you about to gag and maybe even throw up in a little in your mouth. Balut is…
A fertilized embryo of a duck. Not the most enticing of food descriptions we know, but it’s so popular for a reason…
This little dish is one of the most nutrient and protein rich snacks your body will ever have the pleasure of indulging in.
We dare you…
Cambodian Street Food: COCONUT ICE CREAM
A day out eating on the town wouldn’t be complete without a little dessert.
Now, what came first… Ice Cream or The Sandwich?
It doesn’t matter, as now coconut ice cream baguette is born. Gold star if you have tried it! This dairy delight is difficult to get your hands on.
Ice cream and baguettes aren’t a match made in heaven, but this combo is as good as the Cambodian streets are humid. It’s a real refreshing experience that will leave your stomach screaming for more.
Furthermore, adding some extra condensed milk drizzle and crushed peanuts takes it to the next level. If you’re watching the waistline or are wheat intolerant, the coconut ice cream itself is one for the memoirs anyway.
More Cambodian Street Food to Get Your Mouth Watering
If our list has whet your appetite and you’re hungry for more, check out these collections of must-try Cambodian street foods! We only recommend bloggers we ready often and love:
- The Top 10 Must-Try Street Food Dishes in Phnom Penh, Cambodia by the Culture Trip
- Top 10 Popular Cambodian Street Foods You’ll Want To Try by Authentic Foodquest
- 10 Cheap But Yummy Street Foods in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam by Travel Nation
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Mad Monkey Hostels operates in the following Cambodian locations: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kampot, Koh Rong Samloem