The city at night: a quick guide to eating after dark

The city at night: a quick guide to eating after dark

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As world capitals go, Phnom Penh has slim pickings for late-night eaters, but there are several options available for sating those after-dark hunger pangs

Photo by: Tracey Shelton

Chhin and Phy man their posts at the Midnight Train food stall on Street 51. Late-night revellers can relieve their hunger with the stall’s ever-popular hot dogs and all the fixings.

There are places around the world described as “cities that never sleep”. Phnom Penh is not one of them.

But nightime revellers need not despair. While choice may be limited after 2am, there are bars and restaurants open at all hours to satisfy those post-midnight munchies.

The most obvious place for food after hours is Street 51, as vendors there have learned to cater to party animals spilling out of the Heart of Darkness bar at four in the morning.

With various stalls selling everything from chicken feet to noodle soup to chips and onion rings, most night owls’ more immediate urges can be satisfied here for very reasonable prices.

The stalls draw customers from further afield too. “The hotdogs at [Midnight Train] are brilliant and well worth the money,” said Eddie Newman, who, due to his job at Pontoon Bar & Lounge, ends up having quite a few late ones each week.

“We probably go there about three times a week. The chicken wings at Howie Bar are also good,” he added, while bemoaning the lack of similar stalls on the riverside.     

Street 51 also caters to those looking for more civilised sit-down meals.

Dumplings and Def Leppard

Zeppelin Cafe, better known as The Rock, serves up its renowned dumplings for US$1.50 per plate, as well as a small selection of other Asian and Western dishes, until about 4am. The music thumping in the background will make sure you don’t nod off over your food.

A few doors down, Walkabout has a full and relatively extensive menu available 24/7. The restaurant used to have delivery service, but due to some problems (customers passing out before the food arrived, perhaps?), this service is no longer available, although drivers can be sent to pick up orders.

Unless you’re into girlie bars, you might want to opt for takeout.

Some of the other establishments on the strip also serve food into the wee hours. Try Chilli’s a bit further south if neither Zeppelin nor Walkabout suits your taste.

Further afield  

Beyond Street 51, night food is available at various bars and restaurants spread around the city.

Candy Bar & Restaurant, at the corner of Street 136 and Street 5, is one of the more centrally located all-night eateries. As the name suggests, it’s a proper girlie bar, but the menu is extensive, if not cheap. 

NAGA CASINO HAS THE BEST BREAKFAST IN PHNOM PENH.

For more exotic flavour, Korean food can be had until about three in the morning at O Deng Bar on Sothearos Boulevard, south of Sihanouk Boulevard.
This little eatery, favoured by Koreans living in the area, is nicely decorated in red and black, and serves great food and complimentary snacks. 

Heading east, Heng Heng, at the corner of Monivong Boulevard and Street 278, is open all night and serves a variety of Khmer and Chinese dishes with an emphasis on seafood (from $3).

For the more daring, the restaurant’s management also recommends braised pork legs, stomach and intestines “that go really well with Chinese porridge”. Although not exactly on the Golden Mile, it’s not too far away should hunger strike at 5am.

Further north on Monivong, across Sihanouk Boulevard, is a branch of the fast-food chain BBWorld, also open 24/7. Burger plates here are reasonably priced,  in the $2 to $4 range, but no alcohol is served.

Still further north, close to the crossing with Street 214, the Mekong Village restaurant used to be popular with night prowlers, but staff have advised that the eatery is now closed for the immediate future.

Eddie of Pontoon recommends the casinos. “Naga Casino has the best breakfast in Phnom Penh,” he said. “You go there and spend money, or at least look like you’re spending a decent amount of money, and then around five am they start handing out coupons for complimentary buffet breakfast,” he said.

Late night lakeside

Up in backpacker-land at lakeside, the #9 Guesthouse also remains open 24/7 with a full menu available. The food is cheap but thoroughly unremarkable, an advantage being that you can lie down in comfortable chairs and watch a DVD, or sit by Boeung Kak lake (while it still exists) as night turns into morning. Should you suddenly crave a bed, these are available for $3 to $5.

Finally, there are the 24-hour shops. Simon Shaw, also of Pontoon, swears by the shop by Wat Phnom. “They even add hot water to your noodles, so it really is a ready-made meal,” he said. Other all-night shops and garages around the city offer this remarkable service, too.

Unfortunately, no bar or restaurant that deliveres food past 2am could be found. Though, perhaps there is no need for that, as most people at home at three in the morning are likely to be fast asleep anyway.

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