Phnom Penh’s most iconic restaurants
Phnom Penh has a startling variety of restaurants to choose from, with something for every taste and budget. Let’s take a look at some of Phnom Penh’s most famous restaurants and their contributions to the capital’s culinary landscape.
Topaz has been offering the highest standard of service and fine dining for over 20 years and is consistently billed as the city’s top restaurant, hosting diplomats, ministers, businessmen and royalty. Having relocated to a new space in 2016 the larger venue retains the stylish decor and elegant ambiance of the original, but adds more private rooms and outdoor seating in a lush courtyard beneath an ancient banyan tree.
The sophisticated menu of French haute cuisine builds on classic Gallic recipes, which are prepared using only top-quality ingredients and whose exquisite presentations never surpass the combination of amazing flavours. Topaz also boasts one of the city’s biggest wine cellars and a knowledgeable sommelier to guide you through its impressive selection.
Prices are as sumptuous as the setting, but reasonable given the gastronomic talent – and its three-course business lunch set is an exceptional value.
#162 Preah Norodom Blvd.
023 221 622
Worth a visit just for its gorgeous architecture and vintage-chic décor, Chinese House also offers reliably good food and a chic cocktail bar. The landmark eatery occupies a restored historic building near the capital’s port that incorporates both French and Chinese elements and exudes a timeless charm. The dining room is an aesthetic feast of ornate floor tiles, grainy wooden beams and soft-hued walls.
The constantly-evolving menu is inventive and eclectic, with fusion fare that includes gastronomic samplings from Asia to Africa and South America. Dishes include char siu glazed duck and a Kampot pepper crusted wagyu beef tenderloin, as well as more exotic offerings such as South African springbok tenderloin.
At night the downstairs bar pulses to life, with its master mixologist doling out craft cocktails to its smartly dressed clientele.
#45 Sisowath Quay (corner Street 84)
092 553 330
Quite possibly Cambodia’s most famous restaurant, Malis is universally known by locals and expats, and appears in every travel guidebook’s must-visit list. Set in a lush garden courtyard, Malis is the embodiment of master chef Luu Meng’s vision to put traditional Khmer cuisine on the international radar.
The menu of “living Cambodian cuisine” draws inspiration from classic Khmer home cooking, reinventing traditional dishes with bold and flavourful ingredients that elevate them to another level. Signature dishes include a masterfully prepared fish amok and hidden chreav duck, a traditional Siem Reap recipe of slow-roasted duck marinated in lemongrass.
Meng and his protégés are continually elevating the level of Khmer cuisine, and while Malis attracts its share of elites and celebrities, it remains unpretentious and affordable.
#136 Preah Norodom Blvd.
015 814 888
Housed in a beautiful colonial villa with seating in the garden and beside a small pool, Romdeng is especially popular with tourists for its winning combo of good food, good prices and a good cause.
The no-holds-barred menu covers the full spectrum of traditional Khmer and regional cuisine, from hearty dishes such as a Muslim beef cheek curry and a spicy basil chicken stirfry, to deep-fried tarantulas for the more adventurous palate.
The food is prepared and delivered to the tables by local hospitality students – though you might not realise this if we didn’t tell you as the food and service is invariably top notch. All profits from the restaurant go to local NGO Mith Samlanh, which invests in building the futures of former street children.
The drinks menu, like the food, puts emphasis on local ingredients, with tempting and imaginative concoctions that include a lemongrass and galangal cordial soda, and a turmeric and lime daiquiri.
#74 Street 174
070 519 565
Set in one of the city’s grandest colonial buildings, Van’s exudes an air of opulence with a spacious and sumptuously appointed dining room that hearkens back to a bygone era. It also has two private salons for intimate dining and a garden café for more casual affairs.
For nearly a decade, French chef Nicolas Malherbe has been tantalising palates with his creative blending of Asian flavours and French haute cuisine. His influence is evident in everything from the meticulous sourcing of highest-quality ingredients to the artistic plating and impressively executed dishes.
The wine list is extensive and the desserts are divine, including a chocolate fondant with a heavenly caramel filling. Fittingly, it is all too easy to rack up a hefty bill here, but the business lunch and fixed price menus offer excellent value for tighter budgets.
#5 Street 102
023 722 067
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