Posted a note here a few months back looking for a good Cambodian place (could find no reviews on any news website/Zagat, etc). Had no real leads from here either.
But I had heard that there was a concentration of places along Anaheim Street in Long Beach. So with an adventuresome date, we took a Saturday evening drive.
There were, indeed, a handful of Cambodian restaurants along Ananheim (a few miles inland from downtown Long Beach). To describe: you drive along a bleak empty block, then there'd be a corner place chock full people & cars. Then a bleak block & repeat. We had no idea which one to choose and they all seem packed, so we chose our place being one that seemed to have room in the parking lot.
New Paradise Restaurant (1350 Anaheim St, 90813) is about the size of a basketball court, with cheesy decor (think pastel, plastic tropics, mirrored walls and bad beach murals). But we weren't there for the decor. Neither were the capacity crowd of Cambodians. They were there to party, clad in loud (but dressy) outfits - think Asian mafia wannabees meet zoot suits, young ladies in colorful dresses. Show & tell. There was a band on stage, singing Cambodian pop songs. You could tell this was more than a place to eat dinner, but a place to stake a table and spend the whole evening.
We seemed to be the only non-locals in the house, but that was part of the fun. We obviously stood out - but not in a bad sense... I got the feeling that they appreciated that we were diving right in with the fun. We grabbed a booth and looked over the menu.
Cambodian food is great - I'd describe it as a cross between Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and Malaysian... spicy and flavorfull. In most restaurants one might have to choose between entrees such as Chicken, Beef or Seafood. In this place, the entrees were so inexpensive (circa $7) that I obliterated all deliberation and ordered 4, covering all bases. The date liked the assertiveness, but I was hungry and explorative (don't tell her). We ended up with a table full of food, ranging from Satay-like skewers, to spicy stir-fry to my fave: a saucy platter of mixed seafood. Each had it's own signature. We ended up with plenty of leftovers for the morning.
I would highly recommend this place if you're up for something different. As mentioned, you don't go there for decor, romance, entertainment, etc. The area is drab and foreign (which I like, but it makes some uncomfy). You go to step out of this city for a moment. It's just different. And the food... quite yummy. Inexpensive, but yummy. I'm sure one could argue that you could get better grub elsewhere without the trip, but me thinks this place is a fun overall experience if you want to try something a tad bit different, taste something a tad bit different, and be someone a tad bit different.
Drop me a note if you have any Qs.
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