The pork in coconut milk tastes somewhat like our adobo or pork bistek but more flavourful. The pork meat was marinated for hours in a mixture of several sauces and spices. The coconut milk is da bomb! It definitely gave it its unique flavour! Yum.
I and my lunch dates - Elma and Che - could not stop giggling as we flipped through the pages of the menu. I was reminded about another funny encounter I had in another Chinese restaurant years ago.
Anyways.... It was my first time at Samdoo Restaurant, tucked amidst a block of mostly restaurants offering Chinese specialties (it's off Monivong Boulevard and near Psah Thmey or the Central Market). The numerous Chinese restaurants all over the capital bring to the country yummy Chinese flavor to Phnom Penh's huge Chinese population as well as to an expat community with big appetite for Chinese food.
Since it already attracted our attention, we decided to try the Samdoo "ried" rice special...
... and we weren't disappointed! Here were the rest of our meal:
Fried collard greens with garlic - oh so tasty!
Siomai, my all-time favorite
Bean curd and seafood hotpot, my new discovery. All the above dishes were perfectly enhanced by a spoonful of chili oil (with real, hot chili bits) and soy-vinegar.
Samdoo is one of the popular dim sum restaurants in Phnom Penh and they have wide array of dim sum favorites in its menu. The dishes are a bit pricey compared to other Chinese restaurants around the same block, but, by Khmer standards, Samdoo Restaurant is clean, including the toilet. The food was served in no time and the servers were attentive. I would love to go back there with the mister and try out their other popular dishes.
Spring rolls are served in most restaurants everywhere in Cambodia but my favorite of them all comes from Sugar Palm restaurant along the chic Street 240. The crispy Cambodian spring roll, as you can see above, is not wrapped in lumpia wrapper but in bean noodles. The filling is made from ground pork and spices and a bit of prahok paste to give it just enough fishy flavor. An order of the crispy spring roll (pricey for $4.50) comes with a sweet-sour peanut sauce and a teeny-weeny pile of nom lahong (Cambodian pickled papaya).
The cozy Sugar Palm Restaurant is named after one of Cambodia's national icons, the sugar palm tree (borassus flabellifer), or the Asian Palmyra palm. These trees are not hard to miss (from afar they look like cute pompom heads on a stick) as they are found all throughout Cambodia. Just like our very own coconut tree, the sugar palm tree plays a very important role in providing a source of income, and not to mention as a source of building materials, to Cambodians.
Wednesday lunch was at Josiet's place. She prepared a menu of mostly Pinoy food and invited our other Pinay friends. It was such a great lunch - we feasted on CPA (chicken-pork adobo), pansit, steamed fish, and ensaladang talong, which is pictured below, Thai omelet, and sticky rice with mango for dessert.
I know for a fact that preparing ensaladang talong takes a bit of patience, grilling or boiling the eggplants first to loosen up the skin for easy peeling. Despite craving for this dish countless times before, I rarely make this dish at home because the mister isn't big on eggplants. Imagine my joy when it was served on Josiet's table! Josiet's ensaladang talong is made with gata, or coconut milk, an ingredient that you don't usually find in the Ilonggo version of this dish. However, I prefer putting coconut milk for a creamier and tastier flavor, as what most Visayans from Central Visayas and Mindanao put in most of their kilawin/kinilaw dishes. The vinegar she put was just the right amount to give it a tangy goodness. For me, having the ensaladang talong again after so many years made me feel like I was at home in Roxas!
Many thanks to dear Josiet for hosting our lunch this week. Galit-galit muna kaming lahat while on the table but we were back to our normal chatty, funny selves after dessert! *lol* Next time will be at my house, hopefully, as soon as my visitors have gone and I've settled back to my normal routine.
This is not about food, but quite related to food.
I have an aunt who, when she was younger, was known to throw the most enjoyable parties back then. I say enjoyable because we truly love how she would arrange her dining table into something spectacular visually.
She was very hands-on and was very particular about not only the food served but also how to set the table and present the food. We kids would marvel at how attractive the table looked like that everyone thought of not touching the food itself for fear that it would alter the whole setting! Zooming in on her table, one would learn why. Her guests would always be heard "ooh-ing" and "aah-ing" at the sight of her fabulous dinnerplates arranged beautifully. Even my grandmother, her very discriminating mother-in-law, complimented her of her choices, especially when, once on her visit on a regular day, she saw a set of nice looking dinnerwares that could've been used on special occasions but were used for everyday use.
And the flatware, oh, they were sparkingly gorgeous. I once heard my mom say that you could actually see your reflection on the spoons! Yes, they were that shiny. I heard stories of helpers spending a lot of time polishing the flatwares again and again till my aunt was satisfied. All their efforts paid off, indeed, considering the compliments they received from their guests.
I once dreamed of throwing parties like my aunt but I could never-ever match her expertise at all, her meticulousness from menu selection and preparation, selecting and collecting simple yet classic dinnerwares and flatwares and caring for them properly, to table setting, etc.. Apparently you need to have genuine interest in the art of throwing/hosting parties and have the eye for detail - things that you can never purchase anywhere, even from the dependable Home Depot stores.