Ray Zepp, author of Cambodia’s best (if occasionally wat-obsessed) niche travel guide, “Battambang and Around”, is back in the country, and has written a nice wrap up of the changes that Battambang has undergone in the preceding few years at Khmer440. On food and drink in Battambang:
Evenings in Battambang, granted, are not as exciting as in Phnom Penh. Relaxation is the operative word. And where better to relax than the Riverside Balcony Bar. Phnom Penh has nothing to compare with it. And although I am usually not given to hyperbole, I would say that the Riverside should be listed in one of the ‘Great Bars of the World’, and is not to be missed under any circumstances. And if you really want to chow down on good Khmer food, you can go right next door to the Riverside to the “Cow’s Stomach” (romantic name, eh?). You can often tell the best Khmer restaurants when you see lots of people eating, but no live music or sexy beer girls. People are there for the food.
I’m with him on both the Riverside and Cow’s Stomach. Apart from the booze and the somnolence, Riverside’s meatballs are the kind of Westerner stodge that I need to keep me sane after a few days of Battambang fieldwork and concomitant roadside Khmer food. Cow’s Stomach is what I need to remember that roadside Cambodian food is not of the same genus as kitchen-cooked Cambodian food. With the opening of the new La Villa Hotel, and more importantly as a few friends have told me, the arrival of chocolate mousse in Battambang, I’ve really got to get back up north there to see what is happening.
Zepp has a new guide out in Summer 2006 with Peter Hogan and photography by Simon Toffanello.