This place opened fairly recently in Alameda – it’s quite attractive inside, with lots of dark wood paneling and tasteful decorations (other than the gaudy painting of Angkor Wat in the back). It’s clearly meant to compete with Burma Superstar and Yellowtail, rather than Homeroom Racing Café and Ark.
We ordered the prahok katis (which is not on the menu on either Battambang or Phnom Penh in downtown Oakland, but which I’ve had at Battambang as a special order), the sachkor turk prahok, and the hamok trei.
The prahok katis came out first – rather than the searingly hot, pungent fermented fish and pork dip I’ve had before, this was a bland, sweet, coconutty pork mash with no discernible prahok flavor. Unfortunately, rather than serving the dip with the standard accompaniments – cabbage, raw green beans, and tiny raw eggplants, they served it with romaine lettuce and red bell peppers, the watery sweetness of which only added to the blandness of the dip. The flavor did pick up after the addition of a lot of chili oil, and we asked them to make our remaining dishes with quadruple the chili and prahok.
The food improved after that – the hamok trei (fish mousse flavored with coconut) was quite good, and the prahok based dip with the sachkor turk prahok (slices of seared steak served with noodles and lettuce leaves for wrapping) was much more flavorful. I hope they’ll start having a little more faith in their clientele and start serving food the way it’s meant to be cooked (although I remember a long argument I had with Sam Fujisaka about whether or not Cambodian food was actually bland or not… I think people came to the conclusion that yes, Cambodian food really is bland, and what I’ve been fed by my friends is actually Lao. RIP Sam, I’m still not convinced, but maybe I will make a small concession and hope that Angkor Grill starts making Cambodian food the way *I* like it).
850 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607
1345 Park Street, Alameda, CA
Phnom Penh Restaurant
3912 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619
Homeroom Racing Cafe
1305 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501
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