After kilometers of biking, marveling and picture-taking (aka camwhoring) in and around the Angkor Wat Archaeological Complex in Siem Reap, you’d end up really hungry and I would personally recommend for you to satisfy that hunger for Khmer food at Stall No. 29.
It was Julian, the Spaniard-but-based-in-Ireland-whom-I’ve-met-in-Phuket (whew!), who told me about the place. Since he arrived at Siem Reap and Angkor Wat complex a day before I did, he had the chance to try the place out.
He said that apart from Stall No. 29, he tried another place too. But he chose for us to come back to Stall No. 29 not just because the Khmer food was better but also because the people are nicer!
Stall No. 29, located inside the Angkor Wat Archaeological Complex in the stall area near the Terrace of the Leper King, Terrace of the Elephants and Prasat Suor Prat, is a family-run food stall (restaurant). Granma runs the kitchen, Mommy serves the food, and the daughter takes care of customer relations. (I’m really sorry that I have now forgotten her name)
Don’t get me wrong. I mean, I am not recommending the place just because the people are nicer but it’s because the Khmer food they serve is really yummy. And the price, in thousands of Khmer riel (I think USD1=KHR4000 at the time) seems reasonable at 20-30000 for a dish, and looks like the same range of prices anywhere else.
Well, it’s quite expensive in a sense that it’s a roadside stall and in that price, you can get a full meal with drinks and dessert in some restaurants/restobars here in the Philippines. But hey, this was real deal Cambodian food and Khmer goodness while marveling at temple ruins. Seriously, that ought to cover it. And, did I mention that the food was really good?!
Khmer food are usually curry-based, with a lot of coconut powder and lemon grass. During my stay in Cambodia, I’ve had several Khmer food and none of them matched the goodness I’ve tasted with the food from Stall No. 29.
Not even the dinner buffet at the Apsara dance performance or the free food at the Bousavvy Guesthouse where we stayed. There’s a certain way about Grandma’s fish amok (curry), served in a coconut shell no less, that when I tried to order another fish curry at Phnom Penh, I wished I hadn’t.
Grandma’s version was smooth, rich and flavorful. I know I probably sound like a TV show host selling food via home channel right now but really, that’s what it tasted like to me. Whether it was a spicier chicken curry (not as hot as Indian curry of course) or a simple-but-complex clear vegetable soup, Grandma knows how to tickle one’s taste buds and leave you wanting for more.
Whenever we taste Cambodian food goodness at Stall No. 29, Julian and I would always leave full and satisfied. Plus, during the meal, we get entertained by the daughter’s stories about Cambodian culture. At the time, especially when I was on my last day at the Angkor Wat complex, we mostly talked about marriage and married life. I saw a wedding photo shoot and she was already thinking of marrying her boyfriend. The way she shared her stories made me experience it too, perhaps more than I should. Hehe
Another reason why I am recommending Stall No. 29 is because I believe in their genuineness. Of course, it is a business. But, it is a business which they run with sincerity and willingness to share. Stall No. 29 also reminds me that there really is good in a person, even when we are with strangers. On my last day and Khmer meal at Stall No. 29, I accidentally got my left leg burnt by a motorbike’s exhaust. After learning about this, the daughter disappeared and came back with a new tube of Colgate, bought especially to be applied to the burnt skin to soothe the heated pain. I was, of course, touched deeply and was at lost for words.
So yeah, when I said Khmer goodness at Stall No. 29, I didn’t just mean Cambodian food. There’s a different kind of Khmer goodness that Stall No. 29 and the family have shared with me and Julian. If in case you are heading in Angkor Wat complex and heading to Stall No. 29 to taste and experience Khmer goodness, enjoy the food and I’d appreciate if you can give the family my regards.