Having been obsessed with Southeast Asian food since I was about 17, I've finally decided to embark on a food tour of Southeast Asia. I'll be there between the end of November and just before Christmas -- for three weeks. The only details that are set now is I arrive in Phnom Penh and depart from Bangkok. Everything in between those two cities is up for grabs, meaning that depending on where the best food is, I could visit anywhere nearby, e.g. Saigon, Hanoi, Siem Reap, the Isaan provice of Thailand, Vientiane, and even Rangoon (although that may not be the best idea in the wake of Cyclone Nargis); or maybe somewhere I didn't mention.
I'm interested in finding the most authentic (non-touristy) items possible. I'm partial to coconut-based curries, complex spices (both piquant and hot), and anything doused in fish or shrimp paste. (I am dying to spend some time alone with bplaa raa); but I'm very open-minded and don't wish to limit myself to these at all. I tend to enjoy more down-home, mom-and-pop food than white tablecloth stuff, but again, knowing nothing about the region, I don't wish to limit myself. Food quality is the driver.
I'm looking for suggestions from both the macro and micro perspectives. From a macro perspective, which cities or areas do you think it would be best for me to visit? I only have three weeks... From a micro perspective, do you have any suggestions for restaurants, open air markets (wet or dry), indoor markets, street food locations, festivals, or food-rich spots in towns or cities?
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer.