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Ambrosia's Appetite

Khmere-Thai International Restaurant No. 36, St. 214, Phnom Penh

Tel: 25158 Open 5:30-12 p.m. Quality: ***1/2 Table for two: U.S. $10-15

You can't miss it. It's got a big blinking neon sign out front and a couple of guys

straight out of the movie "Airplane" who think they're directing aircraft

rather than parking cars. If you don't tell them not to, they'll wash your vehicle

while you eat. It'll cost you.

One of the most pleasant places to dine in town, the open French windows of this

renovated villa let in a cool breeze even on the hottest days and the brick tile

floor gives it a homey, if not colonial, feel. You can watch Star T.V. by day and

hear live Cambodian traditional music by night.

The clientele is mixed with Cambodian, Chinese, and Thai businessman, government

officials, diplomats, NGO staffers, and yes of course, UNTAC.

The dining room staff, while inexperienced, try hard-sometimes too hard-with two

or three waiters clustering at your elbow eagerly awaiting an opportunity to refill

your water glass or rice bowl.

Don't let your waiter give you the American Fried Rice by mistake. That must be the

truly confused cook's standby when he can't figure out what you've ordered. That

is, unless you LIKE a soggy lump of egg-covered rice with strips of mystery meat

and some boiled hot dogs.

In fact, I advocate staying away from the western menu, only half of which is available

anyway. (Weinerschnitzel in Cambodia? No, I don't think so.) Better hamburgers can

be found elsewhere.

Stick with the Thai salads - beef and squid salads (U.S. $2.50 each) are good and

spicy. Just about all the fried meat dishes are fine, and there's a good rice porridge

($1.50) on the breakfast menu that's available all day-perfect for an upset stomach.

I honestly can't judge the fried fish bladders. Gutsy readers can see for yourselves.

For dessert, the sliced fruits are pretty if not always ripe, the coffee is instant,

but the banana cake ($1.00) is a sure winner.

Before you leave, check your bill. They might just charge you for that American fried

rice anyway.

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