Food in Cambodia

In food quality and variety Cambodia can not cope with it’s western neighbour Thailand, which cuisine is clearly among the most delicious and versatile in the world. The common restaurants and food stalls, particularly the ones on the Cambodian markets, look mostly very poor, basic, neglected and pretty dirty. The restaurants are normally populated with masses of flies who are attracted by the lack of cleanliness, particularly by the food remains who are splashed around.

It’s always pretty difficult for me to find a restaurant where it looks half way well, at least outside of the tourist sector. The touristic restaurants give a better impression on the first glance – if the food is really better and the kitchens cleaner is another question. Only one thing is sure: the prices there double, triple or quadruple up.

It has to be considered that the quality of the food in general varies much. There is good food available, say rice and vegetables and various dishes made from it. Many dishes are too fat respectively oily, though. A great deal of the available food is fried in cheap oils with a high amount of cholesterol. The meat is not seldom very old and of doubious sources. Particularly what is sold as pork can be whatever – worm, snake, rat, dog, cat… – difficult to identify. Since many locals eat anything, they don’t mind. It’s actually a good reason to become a vegetarian. Another good reason for that would be just to watch carefully how the animals here are treated.

Generally is the Cambodian cuisine based on fish as a protein source. Chicken is relatively seldom to get and it is pretty expensive (I found it five times as expensive as in Thailand, and the quality therefore lower). Pork and beef in the market stalls are laid out openly, roughly displayed on wooden banks or desks, waiting there over hours or whole days for a buyer. In the meantime the notorious masses of flies besiege it, and bypassing dogs or cats might put their snouts on it before being dispelled by the saleswoman.

Since there is more food available in Cambodia than in the poor times just a few years ago, many locals tend to eat too much. Presumably it’s also still a status symbol to get fat. Anyway, overweight is widespread here meanwhile, what wasn’t so in recent years. Too much fat, oil, sugar, salt make an unhealthy food habit; highly processed industrial food is also known for it’s addictive contents.


This is only a part of the illustrated article ‘Cambodia’. Read the whole article on Cambodia by Asienreisender.

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Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

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