Cambodian food in Oakland
This month some of my friends celebrated Thai, Lao and Cambodian New Year or as they like to call it, TLC New Year. They feasted so well it made me a little jealous.
I’ve had my share of TLC cuisine but a few years ago I knew almost nothing about Cambodian cuisine until my trip to Cambodia which ignited a love for Cambodian cuisine. I fell in love with amok trei (Khmer fish amok), Cambodian style papaya salad, and many dishes I didn’t know the names of.
I came back to Oakland and was on a quest to find the exact dishes I ate in Cambodia. I tried a few places in Oakland and Alameda but was very disappointed until I went to Phnom Penh on MacArthur. I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for but the dishes there were still delicious. I even hosted a Meetup there. Everyone loved the food so much we had to order seconds for a couple of the dishes.
When I plan my Meetups, I always order for everyone. Below are six of the seven different dishes we feasted on.
The first two dishes are ones I always order even if I’m by myself. The portions are huge even for me (I eat a lot).
My #1 favorite is the traop ang which is sauteed eggplant topped with ground shrimp and pork. This dish is perfect with some rice.
If you know me, you’ll know I’m not a big fan of veggies but I love the fresh raw veggies which come with the dish prahok katis. Prahok katis is super flavorful ground pork which you dip the veggies in. What’s not to like when you can dip veggies in meat? Don’t be turned off by the word “anchovy” in the description. You don’t get much or any of it. You do taste a little of the coconut milk but it’s not overwhelming.
I love soup especially if it’s sour. Samlaw machhou Phnom-Penh has a hint of sourness but it’s not too sour. It’s light and can be eaten during the meal too. If you have more than 3 people, I recommend ordering 2 bowls.
We also had amok trei (hamok trei), we actually ordered two of these. If you’ve never had lemongrass just be aware that it’s in this dish. Don’t worry, they don’t use too much of it and it’s minced so you won’t get chunks of it.
We had stuffed wings too. They were good but not memorable.
For dessert, we had coconut rice and mango. Most places use white/yellow rice but they use black rice which makes this dish really pretty. We had seconds for this one too.
If you’ve never had Cambodian food and had to pick two dishes, I would say get the amok trei and prahok katis. And if you have room, the traop ang is pretty damn good too.
Aside from the good food, the service is always really good. Sometimes when it gets busy it might be a little slow but the guy is super nice. How can you be mad at someone who is like your nice Uncle?
If you’re ever craving Cambodian cuisine be sure to stop by Phnom Penh. There’s always free parking if you turn into the neighborhood street. But if you want to be a badass, just park in the Planet Fitness parking lot. Park at your own risk though. 🙂
Phnom Penh Restaurant
3912 MacArthur Blvd.