How many Korean restaurants are there in Phnom Penh? Enough to fill a book, or at least that’s what the Embassy of the Republic of Korea reckons. And that’s exactly what they’ve done: publish a book, titled Korean Restaurant in Phnom Penh.
The book lists 37 restaurants, with each one getting two pages: one in Korean, one in English.
There are also four divisions of Korean food: “traditional Korean food; Japanese food; Chinese food; others food.”
There are only two restaurants listed in the Japanese food section: Sushi Been, and Ha Na Restaurant.
Ditto Chinese Korean nosh houses. The two sole entries in the book are the unimaginatively named Chinese Restaurant, and Han Guk Ban Jeom.
“Other Food” restaurants number three: Loving Rice Cake, O Deng Bar, and Tender House.
There is no presence of North Korean eateries, but in the face of scoring a freebie book it would be churlish to enter into the politics of this.
All restaurants featured supply a brief rundown of main items on the menu. At the Broom Tree, the main menu is big on noodle soups and features memil-guksu (buckwheat noodle soup); kalguksu (noodle soup); and dak-kalguksu (chicken noodle soup).Broom Tree also features that most universal of Korean menu items, bibimbap (rice mixed with vegetables and beef), and donkkaseu (pork cutlets).
Nak Won Garden’s menu is a tad more exotic, with samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) and chueotang (loach in hot bean paste soup).
Dae Jang Geum serves another Korean staple in bulgogi (barbecue beef), and also dishes up samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly).
More exotic fare is served at the Apsara Restaurant, opposite the Korea Embassy. Here diners can enjoy dageumbari-gui (grilled saw-edged perch) and gulbi-gui (grilled dried yellow corvine).
Again, considering the book was a freebie, it would be churlish to note that none of the restaurants feature boshintang or kagogi.
It would be doubly churlish to even mention the ingredients of those two dishes, except to say that such information would send Lassie lovers barking mad.