For those that grew up in Vancouver, Canada, the name Phnom Penh should ring a bell regardless of cultural background. Situated on East Georgia Street near the Strathcona district of Chinatown, Phnom Penh’s large banners along with golden letters in front of the windows are hard to be missed. It was fortunate that the neighbouring restaurants and stores were all closed during the evening, so despite the large crowd waiting for a spot to eat, parking was still possible.

The ackn crew entered the cosy restaurant on a cold evening and was greeted by a mid-aged man. The table for two was about a 20-minute wait. It seems like over the years, the quality and love of this restaurant has not died down one bit, and business is going strong which is a good sign for the surrounding neighbourhood. This is also a contributing factor that draws newer restaurants to venture a new business in this district which is often less busy compared to Downtown Vancouver.

After we sat down, one of the ackn crew members, who frequented Phnom Penh during his youth, suggested a list of items to order right off the bat. He had been coming to Phnom Penh as a kid, and his parents always ordered similar items. The dishes ordered were: Filet Beef Luc Lac on Rice with Egg, Marinated Butter Beef, Deep-fried Chicken Wings. Now let’s go into details on how each of them:

  • Filet Beef Luc Lac on Rice with Egg: The tenderness of the filet beef hits the spot, and mixes well with the rice with the egg. A tip is to mix the egg yolk evenly with the sauce of the filet beef. While it does feel like a basic dish, it opens up your appetite for more!
  • Marinated Butter Beef: This was perhaps the dish that had the most unique flavours. The raw beef was marinated for a long period, and it’s got a great texture. When you first put this in your mouth, you get a tingly vinaigrette taste, followed by the sweetness of the sauce. It is best eaten with the garnishings which include fried garlic bits and cilantro.
  • Deep-fried Chicken Wings: Absolutely addictive to say the least. The chicken wings are fried in light and thin batter, tossed in sautéed garlic, green onions, and ginger then served with a sauce containing a hint of lemon sauce. While it might burn your tongue when you put it in, eat it while it’s hot!

People might wonder who is behind the force of this successful restaurant that has been in business since 1985; Nam Trieu Humpkik from the Huynh family is the founder of the restaurant. As a Chinese born chef who emigrated to Phnom Penh, Nam opened a restaurant and became a celebrity chef, teaching local students trying to take up this craft. Unfortunately, when the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975, his family was forced to flee to Vietnam and take refuge, and a war-torn country was hardly the settled life that they had hoped. Fortunately, they were able to emigrate to Canada and started a humble noodle shop, and then opened the current Phnom Penh Restaurant. One of interesting fact is the originator of the recipe for their famous Fried Chicken Wings is a man named Peter who had a background in Japanese cuisine.

In addition to their fantastic fusion of cuisines, the story of a successful immigrant family business makes Phnom Penh arguably one of the most legitimate Cambodian and Vietnamese restaurants in Vancouver.

Location: 244 E Georgia Street, Vancouver, Canada V6A 1Z7