Author Archives: nyampenh

Dirty Burger Marathon

USA Donut

USA Donut

Things slow down a bit for the Tet holiday in Vietnam and most expatriates tend to leave the country. So when I came to Cambodia for a bit of holiday and for a photo job, Bryse suggested that we should go nyam some places. Not one to shirk the idea of grubbing some food, I said yes but with a catch. I wanted to try to accomplish at least 4 places in the city in one night. However, we couldn’t go to a proper restaurant as that would just take forever. So we had to go a bit dirty and in true nyam penh fashion, it revolved around burgers.

What’s a dirty burger? It’s not quite fast food and not quite gourmet. Kinda in the middle price point of around $3 – $5.

So Bryse rustled up the troops, in the form of Roswell and Dene and off we went.

The first burger we tried was at USA Donuts. The cafe / convenience store lives up to it’s name with it’s very american style donuts and random items from the States.

We ordered a couple of burgers to start. A run of the mill cheeseburger with fries ($3.00) and a bacon cheeseburger with onion rings ($5.25). Both burgers were decent not great. Meat was a bit dry as both patties were cooked grey and the cheese wasn’t a slice but rather cheese sauce. However, I would definitely come back for the breaded onion rings. You don’t get alot of them but they are gargantuan in size. The breading was crisp and was salted perfectly. Just enough to balance the sweetness of the onions.

USA Donuts: 2.5 nyamies (The extra .5 goes to the onion rings)

Rocket Burger

Rocket Burger

Next up was Rocket Burger. Set near the Australian Embassy, I was a bit dubious about the place as it was a bit out of the way and looked quite sad when we entered. But they made a decent cheeseburger which made up for the depressing digs. Their bacon cheeseburger ($3.00) was great and the patty was actually cooked medium which made it juicy. And check out out the perfectly grilled onion! They could tone down the tartar sauce (yeah, I know) but this was a definite surprise.

Rocket Burger: 3 nyamies

Garage

Garage

We have a complicated relationship with Garage. Bryse and I have eaten there several times and feel that their burgers are some of the best in town. However, whenever we decide to officially nyam the place, the food falls just a bit flat. Sadly, when it came to the sous-vide burger, it happened again.

Overcooked and crumbly, the patty does injustice to a very well thought out burger. It is a very beefy burger though and you can definitely taste that it is high quality meat. For a look at what the burger would taste like when properly cooked, head to the link (http://www.gopowerkick.com/4006/the-garage-phnom-penh)

soex

sous-vide

However, their smash burger was freaking awesome. How awesome was it? Well, I didn’t have a chance to take a photo of it as it was scarfed down before my trusty Nokia 102o could get to camera mode (seriously Nokia, can we work on that please???). The patty was crusty yet was at a medium temp. It came topped with cheese, arugula, caramelized onions and sriracha mayo. It was a perfect smashburger. And cheap at $3.25!

Bryse has a thing for cubanos and he ordered one, which kinda put everyone over the edge. It was good. However, plating could use a bit of help. One word: ramekins.

Garage: 3 (2 for the sous-vide, 4 for the smash)

We weren’t able to make it to our 4th venue as we were stuffed to the gills. Sadly, it will have to wait for next time.

- Vinh
USA Donut

USA Donut

This was my first outing with the Nyam crew, though I’ve been a close follower of their blog for years now. I was very pleased to be asked along because 1) I love food blogs, and 2) I love burgers, dirty or otherwise.

Our first burger at USA Donuts was actually pretty good to me, but maybe it’s because I had low expectations. Their cheese was sort of a nacho/velveeta cheese-like texture, which could be off-putting to some people, but I thought it was pretty tasteful when smashed with the patty. Their onion rings were bomb — crispy and huge — though perhaps what was the best part about USA Donuts is that they had Fat Tire beers by the bottle. I love non-Cambodian beers (They give me diarrhea, bleh).

Rocket Burger

Rocket Burger

The exterior decor of Rocket Burger is fashioned after Johnny Rockets in the US… but the interior makes for a pretty lonely-looking place, with a bar in one corner and a children’s play area in the other. It was empty, save us — I think the wait staff was thrilled to see us. Their burgers were pretty good — better than I expected, really.

At this point, as I’m writing this, I’m wondering if both USA Donuts and Rocket Burger benefited from my low expectations. Because the next place we went to, Garage, was where we had really high expectations.

Rocket Burger

Rocket Burger

Now, I’m a simple girl when it comes to burgers — I like them big, greasy and cheesy. I’m not too into fancy seasonings or like… special techniques when I am looking for my ideal burger — Vinh had been going on and on about sous-vide all night. Just give me a good flame-grilled patty, bread that’s fresh, and cheese, and I’m good!

Expectations or not, I’m sad to say that their sous-vide burger was disappointingly dry. Their smash burger was good, but that random bit of vegetation in it really weirded me out. I disagreed with Vinh on it being arugula… I think it was something like cilantro. Alas, the best part about Garage was the cubano that Bryse ordered. I love Cuban sandwiches. You know what Garage does super well? Cuban Ruebens! Those are my favorite things on the menu, though they can be a little bit pricey.

If I had to rank the burgers, I would probably rank the Rocket Burger one first, USA Donut second, Smash Burger third, and Fancy Sous-Vide Burger fourth. All in all, lots of burgers and beers were consumed, so what more could a girl ask for? Being someone who LOVES talking about food (I’m Singaporean) I really enjoyed the non-stop food debates that was happening.

- Dene

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Osaka Ya

So it’s been over 8 months since I have moved to the homeland and a couple things have happened.
I have started a blog here and it is going pretty well. I have also discovered that I can actually write something other than food stuff! So I am now a writer here when I am not taking photos around Vietnam. But it has been a while since I have been to Phnom Penh so when a 5 day holiday came up, I took the opportunity to head back to the old stomping grounds.
I let Bryse know so I can see what’s new in Phnom Penh and he suggested we head off to a new Japanese place on the riverside. He also asked if I wanted to Nyam this. Why not I said!
grilling at Osaka Ya

grilling at Osaka Ya

Osaka Ya is a pretty simple restaurant in terms of decor. When I walked in, I noticed Lina and was glad to see that Bryse invited her! So we had a bit of a catch up and let the waiter know that we will call him when we were ready. Bryse arrived a few minutes later and we started perusing the menu. Typical of Japanese restaurants in Phnom Penh, there was ngiri rolls, rice bowls and set lunches. Lina asked what was in the Japanese lunch set and the waiter replied ” Rice and food”.
Seriously….
Bryse and I went asian style and shared a few dishes and Lina threw caution to the wind and ordered the Japanese lunch set.
Yakatori

Yakatori

We started out with some yakitori. Chicken to be precise. They were really good. The chicken was tender and had a great sweet-spicy marinade. We also ordered some chicken wings which had the same marinade. Dusted those off with no problems.
We had to wait a bit for our mains even though there was just one more table in the restaurant. Maybe it’s due to me getting used to Vietnam’s one hour lunches (Oh Cambodia, how I miss you for the two hour lunches) but I was seriously wondering where our food was.  From what seemed like an eternity but was actually only 10 minutes, we got the rest of our mains.
okonokoasdfsd

okonomiyaki

We ordered an okonomiyaki and a oyakodon bowl. The okonomiyaki was a gut busting disc of goodness. Potatoes, cabbage, pork belly and octopus were fried on a griddle then covered in a pancake like batter. Mayonnaise and okonomi sauce was drizzled on top and a heap of bonito flakes. Despite the fact that the oyakodon bowl looked like one of the chefs puked onto the rice, I gave it a go and found that it was fantastic! Tons of chicken and egg covered a gigantic bowl of seasoned rice. 

It was about this time that Lina got her rice and food lunch set. The food consisted of a grilled fish fillet, steamed pumpkin, some pickled cucumber and a small bowl of rice.

I had a taste of the fish and it was pretty delicious. Each of us also received a small bowl of clam soup which was pretty tasty. Prices weren’t that bad and though we got some tasty food, I don’t think I would go back as the service was something to be desired.

 2.5 out of 5 nyamies
 – Vinh
food

food (Japanese lunch set)

I had tried Osaka Ya a few months back, pretty soon after they opened, and they were still working through some kinks with the staff and the power cutting out every 10 minutes. But the restaurant owner was really nice and the food wasn’t bad so I wanted to give them another shot.  When we arrived, the owner wasn’t there and the staff was definitely struggling. When Lina asked what was included in the Japanese lunch set the response was “… food.” Not incorrect, but not too helpful. I felt a bit bad for the guys waiting on us. They were really trying but were clearly in over their heads without the Owner. 
adfdsaf

oyakodon bowl

Despite these issues, we were able to get our order in and soon after the Owner arrived to help put together our lunch. The yakitori arrived first and the first thing that arrives always seems to taste the best but these things were pretty amazing. Lina had said that this is what Osaka Ya was known for and it’s well deserved. Really nice mix of chicken meat with cartilage. My favorite dish of the meal.
wings

wings

The wings came next and I was expecting the same really delicious sauce as the yakatori but they were a bit different and not quite as good. The oyakodon bowl was really good. As Vinh mentioned, not the most appetizing looking dish but it was a great mix of eggs and chicken piled on Japanese rice. Okonomiyaki isn’t my favorite dish but this one was actually pretty good. But this may be because they placed the dish in front of a fan which blew most of the bonito flakes off of the pancake and all over our table. Overall, Osaka Ya is not bad but not the best Japanese place in Phnom Penh. I would recommend checking it out for a few yakitori skewers and their “Happy Time” beer special.
3 out of 5 nyamies
 – Bryse
Osaka Ya
River Side close to Street 130

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New Nyamers / Sesame Noodle Bar

Hello again! After spending the past few months slacking / being sad about Vinh moving away (and starting a new blog in Vietnam), I was given a kind kick in the butt to start posting again. This friendly kick even made introductions to a new crew of folks that will help posting new fun places to try. So I’d like to introduce the new nyamers (borrowing Corbett’s introductions):

  • Caitlin - Skinny as a whistle but a foodie none the less, Caitlin did the typical blog thing– started off strong, and then it sort of let it linger. Never let it linger. The thing is, she’s got a great voice, and I think dangling a bit of food in front of her is just the right thing to get her inspired again. To see her writing chops, visit some of her past posts at: http://limeandpepper.wordpress.com/ 
  • Robert - He is the counter for anyone else you’ll find. He’s a glass is half empty type of guy when it comes to food, but like a stale beer at 4 am, he’ll drink it anyway.  He’ll bring neutrality to your rating system. Also a good photographer, he’s looking for inspiration to start shooting again. 
  • Justin - Graphic Designer, photographer, tech head and pocket-conscious foodie, Justin tries everything and runs algorithms to cross tabulate delight against price. More about non-foodie Justin at: http://justinpn.com/
  • Roswell – Roswell is our big boy from Boston. He eschews cutlery in favor of  hammers and nails and is the sly, quip master of our dining experiences. As the nerd-in-residence, he analyzes every food adjective before laying pen to paper. Actually, the last part is a lie. He actually writes in the blood of vanquished chefs. Great hair too.
  • Tim -  Cofounder of Co-Lab and all around tech talented despite being Australian. Tim will help out with making the blog look nice, eating and photos. 
  • Ben – Obviously so talented he does not need a last name. Tim’s recommendation but he’s got mapping chops you can see here. Ben will help add some mapping features to the blog so places will be easier to find.

Thanks to Corbett’s help, we have a new crew of nyamers that will be eating, and posting and hopefully we will have lot of new fun places to try this year. And because Corbett has been so nice, we will provide his wife’s new restaurant a shameless plug.

Outside Sesame Noodle Bar

Sesame Noodle Bar

Sesame Noodle Bar is a great new Japanese cold noodle bar just South of the Russian Market. Again, this is a blatantly biased review but Keiko and Corbett have setup a really cool, comfortable restaurant with tasty, cheap dishes.

Inside Sesame Noodle Bar

Inside Sesame Noodle Bar

Things are still getting set up and they are only open for lunch at this point but lunch specials are $4.75 for a bowl of noodles and a side which is a pretty great deal. SNB is also probably the only restaurant in Cambodia with Edison bulbs which is pretty awesome.

The noodles at Sesame Noodle Bar

noodles

The signature cold noodle dish is served with a ton of veggies, a small bit of pork, hard boiled eggs (which I pick out) and a side of tahini sauce so it’s more of a salad then a typical noodle bowl. The lunch special also comes with a side of either gyoza, pork bun or a passion fruit, mint fruit shake. It really does make for a perfect lunch. Not hot, not too heavy but plenty to walk away full.

- Bryse

The noodles at Sesame Noodle Bar

more noodles

Justin: Thanks for the warm welcome to Nyam Penh Bryse! I’m looking forward to finding some great new places to add to the site… and to my waistline.

Speaking of great new places, SNB certainly is. I think Keiko and Corbett have developed a great idea that will be a real winner in Toul Tom Pong. It would be nice to see more places trying out creative new ideas like this.

Pumpkin Sesame Balls at Sesame Noodle Bar

Pumpkin Sesame Balls at Sesame Noodle Bar

I have to admit, I’ve been through the doors of Sesame more than a few times since they opened but I keep coming back to two dishes. The aforementioned noodle bowl is delicious and is like you say, a little salad-like in its freshness and healthy serving of veg. And that lightness is oh so well balanced by the sweet and rich pork that goes along with it.

Sriracha hot sauce at Sesame Noodle Bar

Sriracha hot sauce at Sesame Noodle Bar

But for me, the real treat at Sesame is the pork buns, or rather ‘Thor’ buns. Grilled pork belly with a little bit of pickle and some sauce inside a perfect little pocket of steamed bun. Damn it’s good. I could eat like forty of them and then wash them down with Sriracha.

Overall it’s turned into one of my fav places to get lunch and it’s a must to try for anybody in the area.

- Justin

Sesame Noodle Bar
(the real) #9 Street 460

map

map

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Ayotaya

Interior of Ayotaya

Interior of Ayotaya

Ayotaya is a no frills Thai restaurant that is severely lacking on ambiance but inversely makes up for it in flavor. Upon walking in, you have a sense that you have entered a canteen. It’s white walls are bare with a few signs stating daily specials. It also has that living room look that only a canteen in Southeast Asia can have with a few couches in back, a whiteboard with daily specials which are in Thai no-less, and the ubiquitous TV running a very melodramatic dubbed soap opera.

Interior of Ayotaya

Each table comes with your own personal trash bin

The good thing about places like this is the high probability of getting a really good meal. But sometimes you need a ringer to really order the goods. Enter Fon from Hungry Go Where who we gave the undue pleasure of ordering for us and Lina from My Big Fat Face.

And it was so good… 

Fon ordered a total of 6 dishes which included 2 plates of Green Curry Fried Rice ($3.00), Lime Steamed Tilapia ($6.00), a Wing Bean Spicy and Sour Salad ($3.50), Fried Squid in Curry Powder ($4.00) and a side of fried eggs ($2.00).

They were all excellent with the Wing Bean Salad and the Tilapia being my favorites of the meal. The salad was clean and fresh with the Wing Beans giving a great crunchy texture to it. For the Tilapia, I am a huge fan of this Thai preparation and almost always order it when it is available.

The only niggly thing I could say about the meal was the quartered hard-boiled egg as garnish on almost all of the dishes.

All in all, Ayotaya is a great Thai restaurant on the cheap if you can deal with the canteen-like feel of the place.

Vinh

Ayotaya is conveniently situated at st 302 in BKK1. You wont miss the cheerful yellow sign outside Decoration is basic, yet clean and welcoming.

Being Thai, of course I was tasked to order for the other 3 foodies – pressure was on. Fortunately all the dishes we had lived up to the expectation. I was happily to collect the compliments!

Fried squid in curry powder

Fried squid in curry powder

We ordered few things to share; snake beans salad with prawns, steamed river fish with garlic, chillies sauce, green curry chicken fried rice and fried eggs to accompany the curry fried rice.

Snake beans salad with prawn came with light and slightly spiced coconut dressing. It was a hands down everyone’s favourite and personally, I can eat that everyday. Steamed river fish came in a generous portion. We asked for the garlic & chillies sauce to be spicy and the restaurant was not shy to give us that. The sauce offers that perfect sour, spicy and salty combination which compliments the fish really well. We just could not have enough of that.

Green curry fried rice

Green curry fried rice

Last dish, curry fried rice with fried eggs. The dish reminds me of good street food in Bangkok  – rustic and giving home cook feel – Two thumbs up!

There are daily specials on their board every day (in Thai). Just ask what they are if you are curious and want to try something different, their Thai staff will be able to explain to you.

Fon

Ayotaya
No 58 Street 302
BKK 1
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
099 222 408

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