I like to think of myself as sort of a discount chowhound, I like to find new and unique places to eat but I'm rarely willing to spend very much money on them. Thus, my explorations and recommendations tend to be takeout places, less expensive ethnic food restaurants and the like, and frequently one of my housemates will join me in these endeavors. Last night, however, we hit a wall of major proportions.
On the outskirts of Takoma Park, on University avenue, a new "Cambodian and Chinese" restaurant and market (called the "Phnomh Penh") has opened up in what used to be a bowling alley. Last night Norm and I set out to discover what the place was all about, and to seek out some Cambodian food for takeout. The supermarket was impressive indeed, although we didn't have much time to explore because it was closing as we arrived. The restaurant, on the other hand, was a major disappointment. The space, as expected, was nothing special, but it was the menu that was the real let down. The only thing on it that couldn't be found at every other Chinese takeout joint in the world was two seafood-heavy dishes described as "Sizzling Rice." When we asked the waitress about Cambodian food, she explained that they didn't have a menu for any of it, or at least there was none she was willing to show us, and that we Americans wouldn't want any of it anyway, describing it succinctly as "stinking food!" All our efforts to get more details, or some kind of listing of what was available, were rebuffed, and we left in disappointment to get some Peruvian rotisserie chicken and fried yucca at Senor Chicken.
Since I've tried and enjoyed examples of numerous different Asian cuisines, I thought that I could surely find an item or two at a Cambodian restaurant I would enjoy, but this was clearly not the place to experiment. My recommendation: Unless you speak Cambodian, steer clear of the Pnomh Penh restaurant, although the market may be well worth a visit.
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