Wings & MSG @ Phnom Penh

I'm a little bit embarrassed to say this, but I have never been to Phnom Penh -- even though it's been on top of the Urbanspoon leaderboard since forever.  Fortunately, I found out that krispymilk and eatingwithkirby haven't been there either! We finally made it there on an early (well somewhat early) Sunday lunch.

Phnom Penh is a Cambodian restaurant, and a lot of the dishes are similar to Vietnamese cuisine as well since they were both apart of the French colonial empire.  Despite this, all the staff seemed to speak fluent Cantonese, and the majority of patrons were Chinese as well.

The Phnom Penh dried egg noodles ($6) was good.  I actually don't have dry noodle that much, since it's not all that common in Cantonese cuisine.  It came with many slices of pork and what seemed like beef liver.  Actually, I don't love liver normally, but this was good because it was so thinly sliced.  The noodles were firm but not too hard.  At the bottom of the bowl was a soy-sauce based sauce to be mixed.  I liked the sauce, but we didn't mix it too well.  Some parts were overly salty.  This turned out to be a reccuring theme throughout the meal.

The noodles came with a clear broth -- I'm not sure if this is the same broth the egg noodles with soup comes in.  It was quite tasty, but we all held back from drinking that much just because it was blatantly obvious there was so much MSG.  The meat on the pork bone was very soft. 

Kirby suggested the butter beef ($12.85), since it is recommended by everyone.  I didn't read much about it before our trip, so I thought it wouldn't be as rare.  But Kirby said it was pretty rare, so I thought it would be more like a beef tataki.  Instead, this was not as thin as tataki and actually felt like a lot of beef.  There was a generous amount of cilantro, some sauce (quite similar to that of the dried egg noodles), and a multiple pats of butter. YES. Butter. I guess this is why it's called butter beef.  There were probably more pats of butter that melted into the meat that we couldn't see.  We ate this by taking small portions of beef and wrapping the cilantro.  It was good, but the thought of so much butter makes me cringe -- just a bit.

Another must order item was the Phnom Penh deep fried chicken wings ($7.95 for half order).  I've heard so many good things about it... and I remembered someone mentioning the wings were laced with crack.  And by crack, I'm pretty sure they mean MSG.  You could see the sparkling MSG crystals from a mile away! These wings were separated by wings, drummettes, and tips and weren't that big.  The wings were pretty good and crispy, and tasted amazing with the lemon and pepper sauce.

The other recommendation was the filet beef luc lac on rice with egg ($9.50).  This... wasn't too mind-blowing and pretty ordinary.  I thought it would be something more special like how the butter beef was, but not really.  It was just beef (that was quite soft) cooked in special sauce, which was a bit reminiscent of teriyaki sauce (just a bit) served with white rice and egg.

Overall, Phnom Penh... is (dare I say it) a bit overrated.  I mean, the food is good, but there's so much MSG that it's a bit scary.  I try to keep my palate quite bland at home (it's healthier) so this was a bit overwhelming.  I was quite thirsty throughout the rest of the day, and that is with a visit to Apres Midi Cafe and The Juice Truck as well!

More: Good Eat - Yum

Phnom Penh 金邊小館
244 E Georgia St
Vancouver, BC
(604) 682-5777
Phnom Penh 金邊小館 on Urbanspoon Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


I'm glad to know I wasn't the only one who hadn't been to Phnom Penh (but now I probably am). It's been on my to-do list for so long but I'm scared it won't live up to the hype after I've read so much about it.

For me, reading so many reviews on this place TOTALLY hyped it up. I wish I didn't (but then why would I even go? :P) because it kind of set me up for disappointment and I will most likely not return... >.<

Kirby, Amy, Phnom Penh is the type of restaurant centered into a handful of dishes. In this case, their butter beef and chicken wings. It is hyped because those two dishes are "good". The rest of the dishes are a bit of hit/miss. For example, despite it is a "Vietnamese" restaurant, if you go for their pho, you will be completely disappointed.

Now, back to their "good" dishes, yes:

a) Fat tastes good. And, yes, they "spike" it with more fat in form of butter. Beef + fat, it is almost guaranteed to taste good! :P
b) Yes, their wings might be spiked with some glutamates but, c'mon, let's face it, these wings are not something you should be eating on a daily basis! Still, if they have gone downhill, so has places like Wo Fung, aka, their former "competitor" in terms of chicken wings.

If you need an alternative, go to Angkor Restaurant in Victoria Drive.

@Amy: Yeah! I saw it on your wishlist on Urbanspoon and I was wondering if you just forgot to take it off or whether you really didn't go yet. haha

@Kirby: I think I might just order the wings to go when I need my MSG fix... haha!

@Kim: Yeah, it was actually only the wings I've heard about the most. I didn't even really know about the butter beef until that day. Speaking of Wo Fung, I haven't been there in ages! (You know, healthy eating and all that.... ha!) So it's gone significantly downhill? I think Wo Fung is a bit cheaper than Phnom Penh, but they are kind of different.

for the record... the wings are dusted with sugar. Msg is embedded in the marinade :3

@pklck: hahah! thanks for that tidbit of info ;D

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