One of the best aspects of living in Cambodia is the extremely civilized 2 hour lunchtime. Combined with the relatively compact size of Phnom Penh, it is conceivable to go home, have lunch, relax or take a nap and get back to work in time. Not a bad way to live if you ask me.
But there are days where you just don’t have the time for civilized.
And that’s where this post is headed. We took that very civilized 2 hour lunch and hit up 4 different fast food burger joints in Phnom Penh to see if there actually is a decent fast food burger in town. Our criteria was simple.
It had to be fast so we set a time limit of 5 minutes from ordering to the time the order arrived for the restaurant to qualify. Now off to the judging!
We first started off at Lucky Burger. With 5 locations in Phnom Penh, and 1 in Siem Reap, Lucky Burger was the closest we had to a western fast food restaurant.
We ordered the basic lucky burger meal which consisted of a cheeseburger, fries and a coke. I don’t know if I should consider this a plus but upon ordering our meal, we were asked it we wanted to up the size of our fries and drink for an extra charge. We declined but I think Lucky should be given some props for maintaining the western fast food mentality of upselling to the customer. After ordering, we got our order number and found a place to sit. 5 minutes later, we received our meal. My initial impression of the burger was positive.
Along with the normal LOT (lettuce, onion, tomato), there was an ample slice of american cheese, a tangy, not too sweet sauce and pickles. The sauce wasn’t cloyingly sweet and the pickles made for a great tang that was missed on the other burgers we tried. The fries were just okay and definitely needed some dipping in the accompanying catsup bowl for some extra flavor.
Lucky burger offered the best tasting burger but taste came with a price as it came dead last in order time.
2.5 out of 5 nyamies
I had tried Lucky Burger before and it wasn’t too bad. The day we went, it kind of reminded me of the cheap burgers in the elementary school cafeteria. Probably grade F meat but definitely eatable. Nothing special but just a cheap fast food burger.
We stuck with just the basic cheeseburger but what I was surprised about was the variety on the Lucky Burger menu. They have the typical fast food menu but also pizza, fried chicken, rice, etc. We were trying to pace ourselves for the following spots but some of the other items looks pretty interesting.
2.5 out of 5 nyamies
N0 158 Preah Sihanouk
Total order time: 5 minutes
Total Price: $3.50
Song Tra Ice Cream
Looking at the store front, you couldn’t tell that this place sells burgers. But once inside, we perused through the menu and found a lone cheeseburger in a menu filled with very sweet Khmer food items.
At 5,000 Riel, it was the cheapest of the bunch and only took 3 minutes to arrive but I think that’s all it had going for it. The burger consisted of a patty of indiscriminate meat, lettuce, a green tomato, catsup, special sauce, cucumber and coleslaw. The patty was a mealy affair and had no bite to it and the bun was the sweetest I have had in a while. I also have to dock off some points for having a barrier of sauce inbetween the (unmelted!) cheese and patty.
The french fries at Song Tra were the polar opposite of the burger. Piping hot, they were seasoned perfectly and definitely were the high point of the meal.
2 out of 5 nyamies
A coworker had mentioned that Song Tra had really good, cheap fries which was definitely true. But how bad could the burger be? umm … pretty bad. We ordered the cheeseburger but whatever they had between the bun was definitely not beef.
1.5 out of 5 nyamies
Song Tra Ice Cream
No. 17 Sothearos Blvd
Total order time: 3 minutes
Total cost: 12,000 riel for a cheeseburger, fries and a coke
BB World is another fast food chain in Cambodia that has 4 locations in Phnom Penh and is described on their parent company’s website as “The Cambodian equivalent to McDonalds but with an element of Kentucky Fried Chicken”. It also has the distinction of being the only one that is open 24 hours a day (only the Monivong branch). We ordered the BB World Cheeseburger Set which was the most expensive of the meals at $3.70.
The burger came with your typical LOT but also added a lone pickle to the mix. Unfortunately, the greyish hockey puck of a patty destroyed any redeeming qualities the rest of the ingredients could muster. Also, the cheese was unmelted, there was a mealy greenish tomato but on the plus side, the lettuce was crispy and the bun not so sweet. The fries were okay but I think we got a batch that had been left under the heat lamp a bit too long.
1.5 out of 5 nyamies
Whenever we take on too many restaurants in a day, the last place definitely suffers from us being too full. However, I don’t think it would have mattered when we went to BB World. These guys take the cake for serving up one of the most unappetizing burgers I’ve seen.
0.5 out of 5 nyamies (the only reason there is half a point is because I didn’t get sick)
BB World (open 24 hours!!)
No 308 Preah Monivong
Total order time: 2 minutes
Total cost: $3.70 for a cheeseburger, fries and a coke
I have seen these burger carts around Phnom Penh and have been meaning to actually have one of these burgers. Unfortunately, every time I have wanted one, the cart’s have been closed. Such was the case during the 2 hour lunch excursion. We went the one on Street 294 and 63 at 12:30 and got an empty cart.
We saw another one around 1:30 on Street 184 and 51 which was actually manned by an employee. She refused to serve us so all I got was a photo of her cleaning the cart for I assume would be an eventual opening.
I had contemplated going to Ziki Burger cart after the review but the main reason why fast food exists is convenience. Granted, only BB World is open 24 hours but in all honesty, if I can’t get a meal from the times of 12:00pm to 2:00pm, there is a problem.
So there you have it. Once again, we have risked life and limb by raising our cholesterol levels to unhealthy heights for your reading pleasure! And the winner is…..
Lucky Burger at an average of 2.5 out of 5 nyamies!!!!
Here is the rest of the field:
Song Tra Ice Cream :1.75 out of 5 nyamies
BB World: 1 out of 5 nyamies
Ziki: DQ as they couldn’t even field a burger