3.270 Fried Water Buffalo with Snow Peas

Cycle 3 – Item 269

30 (Sun) September 2012

Fried Water Buffalo with Snow Peas


at Bopha Phnom Penh – Titanic Restaurant

-Phnom Penh, Cambodia-

with KSY, YL, BS, et al.

Research Trip to Cambodia + Lao PDR: Day 4 of 6

In Phnom Penh.  Here to meet with legal experts in the Ministry of Health and the National Assembly to gather information as part of a long-term project sponsored by WHO to assess health legislation in countries across the Western Pacific Region, starting with Cambodia.   Afterwards, we’ll drop by Vientiane to meet with the WHO Country Office about how to structure the engagement with Lao PDR.


Khmer Surin is a Cambodian restaurant and guesthouse.

Judging by the contrived tropical decor, apparently designed to reflect what a corny foreigner might fantasize Cambodia to look like, it was clearly a tourist trap.  BS, who’d taken us to Sky High Bar & Restaurant a few nights earlier, said that he’d considered Khmer Surin but decided against it when I demanded nothing touristy.  Silly me.  (I’d been afraid of something corny without the substance, more along the lines of Titanic below.)

Khmer Surin delivered on the bait.  All the dishes that we’d ordered were balanced in flavor, constructed with care, and beautifully plated – exactly how a corny foreigner like me might idealize fine Cambodian cuisine.  Would’ve been great to eat dinner here on the first evening, but then I wouldn’t have experienced that exquisitely repulsive frog.

Green Mango & Papaya Salad (3.0)
Deep-Fried Shrimp (3.0)
Morning Glory in Bean Sauce (3.5)
Mixed Vegetables & Cashew Nuts (2.5)
Fried Fish in Garlic Sauce (4.0): sweet and spicy, crispy and tender – absolute perfection, the best dish of the best meal thus far.
Amok Trey (4.0): BS seemed a tad bemused by the restaurant’s nouveau take on amok, which is traditionally done with chunks of whitefish, not bits of random shellfish, and is traditionally presented as a whole in a banana leaf wrap or carved out coconut for everyone to share, not in individual servings – even though the non-Cambodian, especially me, loved it.
Be prepared to see this plate again in a future post, if you know what I mean.

If ever I’m in Phnom Penh again, I’ll definitely considering staying at Khmer Surin, just to have easy access to the food.


Bopha Phnom Penh aka Titanic Restaurant is a Cambodian/Western restaurant.  The menu is divided about evenly between traditional Khmer cuisine and common Western fare (e.g., steak, pasta).  Prices ranging from US$6-10 per dish, it’s on the upscale side, especially where local food is concerned. It’s one of the city’s most famous restaurants, at least among expats/tourists, a must-eat destination for first-timers in Phnom Penh.

Located along the Tonle Sap River in the expat/tourist district of Sisowath Quay (Riverside).

Overall, the food was competent but less than spectacular, maybe 2.5 across the board.  The service was excellent, English well-spoken by the waitstaff.  I suppose the idea of a river view would be attractive for many customers; however, because Phnom Penh is still largely undeveloped, particularly the areas on the opposing bank, looking out across the river at night reveals little beyond pitch black darkness.  Presumably, the view is much better during the day.

Fried Fish with Ginger (3.0)

In keeping with this trip’s initially-unintended-yet-gleefully-embraced-though-ultimately-regretted theme of novel/novelty eats, I ordered water buffalo for my final dinner in Cambodia.  I’d tried buffalo once in the States, presumably land buffalo, and remembered it to be like beef but a bit gamy in aftertaste.  It occurred to me that Cambodian water buffalos, which probably drink from the same marshes where Cambodian frogs eat and dump and hump and hatch, may be a bit froggy in aftertaste.  Fortunately, it wasn’t froggy in the slightest, just slightly gamy as expected, while the soy-garlic sauce and snows peas were fine, if predictably so.  I was almost disappointed that the dish failed to deliver some sort of ick


Liquid, a bar near the hotel.
Not a big cocktail drinker, but I couldn’t resist a Green Phnom Penh (vodka, Midori Sour, lime, sugar, passion fruit), though I suspect that this bar made it up.
Fried Calamari (3.0)



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