Chasing French

Chicken Lok LakBeing on a budget does not mean depriving yourself of a luxury here and there. It’s fine to eat fried rice with chicken every night when you are traveling alone but when company you enjoy comes along why not splurge and enhance the travel experience through food. I had good friends in Siem Reap and that’s exactly what we intended to do.

Cambodia has a rich, albeit checkered, French colonial history. We assumed their would be an abundance of this cuisine available all throughout town.

Baguette stands were everywhere why not Fois Gras?

Our first exploration into the culinary delights of Siem Reap met with disaster in the form of gristle. The Indochine, a French restaurant recommended to us turned out to offer only French Fries as its claim to the motherland.

Even the salad lay on a bed of fried crinkle cut potatoes.

The variety of food featured on the menu was definitely international. Italy was well represented with several pasta dishes. Cambodia, England, America, and Thailand secured a culinary spot on the list of meals offered. France was conspicuous by its relative absence.

AbacusNight two at the Abacus offered us a dining treat. One that surely deserves to be written about.

Upon arrival we were met by the owner and escorted in. We passed through a gorgeous ground lit garden setting then on to our table inside. It had a perfect dry temperature controlled environment and crispy clean white table cloths. Our host was French and displayed an air of friendly confidence which left us pleased with our choice.

We were looking forward to the meal to come.

Warm green pea soup with pan-fried foie gras served with campagne bread, medley of seasonal greens and goat cheese crostinis scented with garlic dressing, braised lamb shank served green lentil ragout, parsley potato and garlic thyme sauce. Dessert of profiteroles served with chocolate sauce for additional decadence.

A great night out with good conversation and wonderful company; it was truly a magnificent meal. My apologies as I drop in a cliche; it was a “dining experience”.

FCC - AngkorNight three we opted for the FCC; Foreign Correspondents Club – Angkor. It is the sister club to the original in Phnom Penh which is famous as the hangout for war journalists during the countries conflicts.

Much like the Hotel Rex was in Saigon during the Vietnam War and most importantly at its conclusion.

We were seated upstairs on the verandah overlooking the reflection pool and river. Above us giant cooling fans kept a cool breeze flowing and beside us shutters painted bright white adorned with mosquito munching geckos; all reminders of the French colonial era.

Below was a two piece band playing tunes from the Lion King!

With an appropriate gin and tonic in hand the ordered food began to arrive. Mixed satay of beef, chicken, and pork, green leaf salad with miso dressing, salt and pepper calamari, chicken ceasar salad, signature prawn shooters, grass-fed sirloin steak with crushed potatoes and Asian coleslaw; the ball was rolling and it was more than delicious.

Desert came in the form of dual scoop ice cream, passion floating islands, and chocolate truffle cake.

The nights in Siem Reap were something special. They had changed from drastically hot and humid to cool and comfortable. We lounged as we ate and soaked in the atmosphere. I for one was in heaven.

For $30 each night I had been able to enjoy two of the best meals to be had in the whole country.  Cambodia is a land of extremes and as far as food goes, I had been to both.

For photos of Cambodia click here.

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25 thoughts on “Chasing French

  1. Hi tim; so glad to be reading another one of your awesome posts. Good thing my nephew has dinner on the stove or this would have left me wondering what to eat now that I’m good and hungry. Am surprised there wasn’t more good french food there too. Guess us americans have ruined the world by exporting french fries. By the way thanks for your help getting the bloggers helping bloggers group going again. You’re a great friend. take care out there, max

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  2. It truly sounds wonderful. For $30 here you get much less than what you were describing. Good friends. Good food. Good atmosphere. What more can one ask for?

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    1. I am completely with you on that Christine. Have always loved the food in Asia no matter what it is but an expensive fancy meal once in a while is usually an amazing experience.

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  3. So wait a minute. You’re telling me that French Fries are not French? I suppose you’re going to tell me that’s true for French Toast too? LOL

    All kidding aside, yes, even when it’s required to eat on the cheap most of the time while traveling the payoff comes when you splurge a little and enjoy some fine dining.

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  4. You had me at, “lay on a bed of fried crinkle cut potatoes”. Your photographs looked as if they were taken in Beverly Hills, what a difference from the other pictures you shot in Cambodia! It all looks and sounds so exquisitely serene.

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  5. Totally agreed! Sometimes its nice to treat yourself to a nice meal and coming with that is the opportunity to wear a new shirt or dress, hence why us women love fancy meals now and than, ha ha. Loved the post and the food sounded delicious. Love, Husnaa xx

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  6. I had to chuckle at your first experience…Even the salad lay on a bed of fried crinkle cut potatoes. What a tip to their French heritage! But the rest sounded fantastic…good food/good friends…doesn’t get any better, right?

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  7. I like the picture of the Abacus – that looks so inviting and then to hear you describe the marvelous food, well, I have to tell you Tim, I was a bit jealous of your ‘dining experience. So glad you enjoyed the food and the location.

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