Phnomenon is a website about food and drink in Cambodia, based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Occasionally it contains off-topic rants about the brilliance of Christopher Lee’s films, early 90s hip hop, and the abhorrent state of travel writing but these are all not-so cleverly disguised as reviews of food and drink in Cambodia.

Chmuah eh?
Hi, I’m Phil Lees. If you hadn’t gathered from my diet of bad Khmer beer and excessive quantities of meat, I’m an Australian living in Phnom Penh.

Why you do?
You don’t have to spend much time in Cambodia to realise that Cambodian food is Indochina’s most underrated cuisine and this is wholly undeserved. Cambodia’s food has a subtlety and complexity that easily rivals (and heavily influenced) the cuisines of neighbouring Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

When I started in 2005, there weren’t any other websites that only review food and drink in Cambodia, and I enjoy writing almost as much as I enjoy eating. Nobody was covering the street food here, which is almost completely distinct from its neighbours in the region. In this respect, I was heavily inspired by Saigon foodblog, Noodlepie.

I’m new here. Where should I start?
Here’s five of my favourite features to get you on your way:

  • Why travelers dislike Khmer food: Very few people who come to Cambodia have a positive reaction to the food. Instead of summarily dismissing them, I point out the more egregious mistakes to be made when ordering and eating Khmer cuisine. Travel website Gridskipper gave this the snappier title “Cambodian food is good, you just suck at eating it”.
  • Five (Cambodian) foods you should eat before you die: This post on a selection of five of the tastier Cambodian foods generated much more traffic than it deserved. Everybody loves a list.
  • Bayon Beer: It was hard to pick a single Cambodian beer review. It’s like picking a favourite child because they’re the one that you most enjoy berating.
  • Food map: Phnom Penh: Unlike most websites about food, I stick pins in a Google Map so that you can see where I eat in Phnom Penh’s urban sprawl. I’m still not sure whether it is useful or not, but my friends love it when I point out the location of their house or favourite BBQ joint.
  • Meric: The first time that I reviewed Cambodian fine dining and the last time that I will quote a French postmodern theorist.

I’m looking for Phenomenon.com, can you help me?
No. It has a superfluous “e”.

What camera do you use?
For some reason, food writing on the web seems to attract hardcore photographic gearheads, obsessed with getting the condensation droplets perfect on their caipirinha. I’m not sure why they ask me this question because I’m not one of them. I’m not the greatest photographer, but occasionally, I get lucky.

I use an Olympus C-740UZ and I’m happy enough with it. As much as I would have liked to buy a serious digital SLR, macro lenses and have a ruthlessly efficient assistant with a lastolite reflector on hand to cater for my capricious lighting whims, at the time of purchase, I was dirt poor. I also have a fairly humble Pentax K1000 but don’t often use it for shooting food.

Advertising Enquiries
In the argot of gangsta rap, I’m one of Google’s bitches. I am still open to any serious advertising enquiries.

Unless otherwise stated, I pay for all my own meals which ultimately are paid for by the Australian taxpayer (Cheers, Ausaid!). I won’t review your restaurant or product for cash, slabs of Klang, or promise of freedom from prosecution. It will cost you more than an airplane to form an unholy power-sharing arrangement with me.

Email me at editor@phnomenon.com