After making the mistake of attending the auto show on opening weekend (think Cedar Point some Saturday in July), we headed to Phnom Penh for an early dinner yesterday.
If you haven’t been to either location (we prefer the one on W 25th), Phnom Penh specializes in Cambodian and Vietnamese cuisine. We were first introduced to this tiny place a few years ago by a good friend and colleague.
We each started off with a cup of soup, rice noodle for me and hue beef for Jamie, an egg roll a piece and split their version of mild Pad Thai with chicken.
I really enjoyed my soup, which is served with seasoned pork, shrimp and rice noodles in a chicken broth. This soup has really good flavor, especially the pork. Jamie’s soup, which is supposed to be very spicy, had rice noodles, beef brisket, lemon grass and a variety of other hot spices with a wonderful aroma. On past visits, his nose would run from the intense spice – which he loves. This time, it was fairly mild. He also commented that something overall was missing and that it wasn’t as good as he remembers. Aside from my soup, this was pretty consistent with the remainder of our meal.
In previous visits, we have both enjoyed the egg rolls and have told others they are the best in town. I want to say cinnamon, although I’m not sure it’s that simple, but the egg rolls usually have a very distinct flavor and really stand out from their traditional counterparts. Yesterday, however, that memorable flavor was noticeably missing. They weren’t bad per se, just not what they can be.
The same was true for our Pad Thai. It wasn’t unenjoyable by any means, just not as good as we have had it there in the past. And even though their version is quite different from that of Lemon Grass or even Mint/Peppermint, it still was a bit bland and only seemed to improve once I squeezed several limes over the noodles.
If this was our first visit to Phnom Penh, I’d say it wasn’t bad overall. But this wasn’t our first trip and these same dishes have been prepared much, much better in the past. So, I’ll chalk it up to a fluke and will definitely go back. But if it’s like this again the next time, then I’m not sure I’d be as forgiving. There are too many wonderful places in town to settle.