Restaurants & Bars 5

Phnom Penh

Mr Grub | Aug 11, 2004 12:55 PM

While grub-trolling thru Echo Park, the Ol’ Grubster became intrigued by a restaurant named Phnom Penh. Its sign identifies itself as a Chinese restaurant, yet the name references Cambodia & the script on its sign is Cambodian & Vietnamese & some of the Roman words are also Vietnamese.

One storefront off Sunset on Sutherland (btwn Stadium & Alvarado), the exterior is unadorned, save the “A” health rating sign. Enter from the bright sunlight into a dark, equally unadorned space. 8-10 well-worn circa 1955 tables in an ambience that feels like the guards’ mess at Q. Everything chipped, cracked, or peeled, but amazingly clean (during chow, the designated cleaner-upper seems to work constantly at tidying).

Short discussion w haltingly English-speaking one-man-gang (owner?) reveals that the cuisine is indeed Chinese, but cook is Cambodian (Chinese ethnic Cambodian, that is). Most menu items are usual suspects, but a few Cambodian specialities.

Here’s a novel twist – the menu is in English, w Vietnamese translations. Turns out the neighborhood—perhaps more correctly the block—has a significant Vietnamese population. So we have your basic Chinese restaurant w a Cambodian cook, & English menu w Vietnamese translations (tho not a single Vietnamese dish). Only in LA.

The Grubmeister decided on Cambodian half-duck & a chicken lad na (not by that name) noodle dish. Duck is like roasted duck at most Chinese restos, but intensely flavored. Marvelous. Noodles are, again, familiar, but also intense. Anxious to return to try more items. I don’t believe anything on the menu is more than $10.

Neighborhood is tired. Parking is IMPOSSIBLE. But if you don’t mind a bit of an adventure in seeking deliciousness, worth the effort.

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