The squid on the beach in Sihanoukville is crap but I love it. The beachside barbecued squid (mohk aing) may be rubbery, overcooked, and subject to the ignominy of suspect storage and the discomfiture of dodgy handling but the context matters more than the food itself. Sitting in a deckchair, bare feet in the sand, while people bring an endless supply of cold beer and barbecued meat is my idea of a good time. I can overlook that Sihanoukville lacks immaculate beaches and isn’t the next Goa or Phuket when I’m full of cheap seafood.
These thumb-sized squid were brushed with fish sauce and spring onions (which seems de rigeur), then barbecued and reheated as necessary throughout the day. Served in a polystyrene clamshell with one half devoted to meat, the other to a weak, sweet chili sauce.
See also: Kraken guy at Psar Thmei
Glowstick-wielding candy ravers rejoice:
THE “largest and wildest” full-moon party, promised the yellow flier taped to a phone booth on Khaosan Road in Bangkok. Another installment of Thailand’s girls-gone-wild bacchanal on the island of Ko Phangan? Or its bigger brother, Ko Samui? Or maybe it was the newcomer Ko Phi Phi, a remote island that is luring younger partygoers in the post-tsunami boom.
Not quite. This particular moonlight spectacle, in fact, wouldn’t even be in Thailand, but across the border, in Cambodia’s budding seaside town, Sihanoukville. It is “just nine-and-a-half hours from Bangkok,” according to the flier, the work of Cambodian entrepreneurs hoping to turn Sihanoukville into the latest party hot spot.
Those Google Ads that the New York Times has been running about “The Cambodia Craze” must be paying off, because Sihanoukville is back again with the words “In Cambodia, the ‘Next Phuket’?”. Jeff Koyen actually mentions that ” it won’t be long before the stretches of sandy seclusion are overrun with package tourists” which is an excellent assessment if the cruise ships start rolling in. Mark my words, Sihanoukville is the next Ensenada.
Now that most travel writers have discovered that their audience are sick of reading soporific accounts of their day tour of Angkor Wat, they have set their sights on sunny Sihanoukville. Unlike most writers, John Henderson of Inside Bay Area loves the beachside food:
…I eat delicious, authentic Cambodian food at prices I haven’t seen since rural Egypt in the ’70s. At one charming, romantic bar/restaurant called Le Roseau, a new taste thrill called coconut amok chicken is simply one of the 10 best dishes of my life. With sticky white rice and an ice-cold beer, the total cost: $3.50.
If commercialization in Cambodia has risen, prices have not. In two weeks in Cambodia, my most expensive dish has been $5. For that I received a plate piled high with a pound of crabs in garlic sauce at Treasure Island Restaurant, where I had my own gazebo overlooking the Gulf of Thailand a few feet away.
I’m not sure about the authenticity of amok chicken but if it convinces people that there is more to Cambodia than Angkor Wat, I’m all for it.
See: Cambodia is an affordable paradise
So says Alexander Lobrano from International Herald Tribune after his week at Sokha Resort’s private beach, as reprinted in today’s Cambodia Daily. What the Daily edited out of the original article was what I’m here for: the food. Before Alex’s review was trimmed for the Daily’s A4 format, he said:
Among the best bites in Sihanoukville, Chez Claude (Kam Pegn hill, Sihanoukville, tel. 855-12-824-870, entrees $5-$14) has superb views of the Gulf of Thailand from its perch on a hillside between the Sokha Beach and the Independence Hotels, and the kitchen prepares an impeccably fresh local catch of the day with a French touch.
La Paillote is generally considered the best restaurant in town, with excellent home-style French and Cambodian cooking served in an open-air garden setting (Weather Station Hill, tel. 855-12-633247, entrees $5-$11).
Downtown, stop by the Starfish Café, where the American baker Deidre O’Shea has taught local women to make Western bread and pastries as a way of supporting themselves and earning money for the philanthropic projects the café oversees; in addition to fantastic brownies and cookies, breakfast and lunch are served, and excellent boxed lunches are available
See: On the cusp: Asia’s new trendsetting beach