Deep Fried Frog

Having enjoyed street food in Hanoi, I wanted to sample some authentic Cambodian food whilst here in Siem Reap. That meant avoiding Pub Street, which is geared to western tourists with so-called ‘Cambodian’ food being altered to cater to tourist tastes.

A Google search revealed that a restaurant close to my hotel provides authentic Cambodian food for locals, and is a place not often visited by tourists. Sign me up!

I had passed by ‘Sensabbay 3’ each time I walked to town and back, as it is a short walk from my hotel.I had assumed that it was a karaoke bar, based on the ‘hostess girls’ that were sitting at the entrance. However, a web-site on local cuisine suggested that it was one of the few places in Siem Reap to serve authentic food.

When I walked through the gauntlet of hostess girls, and said that I just wanted to eat, I was shown to a table by one of the waitresses who were dressed in somewhat suspect schoolgirl clothing.

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The hostesses at the entrance (avoiding the camera)
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Waitress

I was able to communicate to the waitress that I would like a beer. I think she asked me if I would like a ‘tall’ beer, to which I agreed. A short while later, she returned to the table with a bucket of six Angkor beers! She then proceeded to pour one into a glass with ice. Wary of the ice, I got a clean glass and let her know that I didn’t need any ice.

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Bucket of beer – and accompanying ice

I let the waitress know that I wanted to eat and she told me that the menu was not in English. I had come prepared with the name of an authentic Cambodian dish – Kang Kep Bampong (deep fried frog). The waitress couldn’t understand but the maitre d’ understood. I was asked ‘spicy or not’ and responded ‘medium spicy’. I’m not sure whether that was understood.

The waitress and the maitre d’ both asked if I needed ‘a lady’. I politely declined. As I understand it, the hostesses will provide company whilst eating and drinking (for a fee). They may provide additional services!

However, this doesn’t seem to be an all-adult venue. There was a family with a young child dining at the next table to me. And there was a family-type movie being projected onto a screen, that the family found to be very funny. The movie had no sound but had English sub-titles that made no sense whatsoever! It was funny to me because it made no sense.

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Kang Kep Bampong – Deep Fried Frog

When the dish arrived, it was decidedly spicy. If this was only ‘medium spicy’ then I’m glad I didn’t ask for all out spicy. Although I suspect that he only heard ‘spicy’ and that’s what I got. I’ve eaten frogs legs several times, but this was different. There were a lot of bones in the frog that I had to negotiate. And the rest of the dish had strong flavours and unusual texture. Something different – which is just what I wanted. The spicy flavour ensured that three of the beers were finished in short order.

After the frog, I decided to try something else. Without a menu, I asked the maitre d’ what he recommended. He smiled and said ‘Thank you.’ Something was obviously lost in translation. Later, I was able to communicate that I wanted something else to eat. He recommended something, but I only understood the word ‘beef’. The resulting dish tasted good, but seemed to be more western oriented than a local dish.

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My second dish of the night – beef with vegetables

Video: Footage from inside Sensabbay 3

 

I managed to get through five of the beers. As I need to be up early tomorrow to visit Angkor Wat, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and left the sixth beer in the bucket.

And the cost for two courses of food and five beers? $20. I gave the staff a nice tip and left very contented. It was nice to have been able to get a brief glimpse into local culture and to sample some authentic fare.

 

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