Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 21, 2021
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Where to eat when in Phnom Penh

A Toronto FM discovers Khmer smiles and tantalizing tapas in Phnom Penh

Ducking in from the midday sun and grabbing a seat at one the wood tables of Friends the Restaurant, we sensed that this would be special — tapas in Cambodia! Seemingly an odd idea, but the Khmer people love to share their meals and what better style of cuisine than tapas to display this tendancy.

Equally as innovative, Friends is a non-profit restaurant in Phnom Penh which trains former street children in the hospitality industry. To start, strawberry and soursop shakes refreshed us along with the breeze coming through the ceiling-high windows of the brightly-coloured dining room. It was difficult to narrow down our choices from their fusion menu, but once made, the dishes were delivered promptly by our ever-smiling wait staff.

Sundried-tomato hummus, lovingly displayed on a crispy wonton wrapper with a tomato and basil garnish, announced the beginning of the meal. Sweet potato fries with a curry mayonnaise and fish and potato cakes with roasted red-pepper sauce were wonderful to share and fight over!

But these were surpassed by a curried pumpkin soup with coriander; it was utterly sublime. There was also a tantalizing Asian-style mango coleslaw lightly doused in a sesame and lime dressing.

The rich stickiness of the honey garlic meatballs had us calling out for more napkins from our gracious, young hosts. The freshness of the pomelo salad with grilled chicken and fresh mint was contrasted with the glorious complexity of their famous Khmer chicken curry.

To round out the savoury dishes, a salsa verde of fresh herbs and capers topped perfectly grilled fish. The finale was a sinful chocolate and orange mousse, which was still light.

We pushed back our chairs and listened to the peals of laughter coming from the neighbouring Friends orphanage-school and just smiled. More information about Friends is available from their website, and recipes are available in their cookbook.

Friends the Restaurant
House #215, Street 13
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Tel: (011-855) 12-802-072
Dinner for two is around $15.


Dr Sylvia Chong is a family physician in Toronto.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.


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