Psar Orussei is the market where you can find all of the crap that you can’t find at any other market in Cambodia. My first impression of the place was that it was extremely handy if you lived in Phnom Penh, but nigh on useless if you were just passing through. Partly, this was because I had never arrived there at seven in the morning for both breakfast and to find cardboard boxes with a vegetarian.
I hold the strong belief that vegetarians are nuts. If the Gods had wanted us to eat only vegetables, they would have sent forth a bacon tree and possibly a steak bush to keep the halal and kosher folk prostrate in veneration for Them as well. Thankfully for vegetarians, a very small handful of Cambodians are pro-herbivore and much less on the militant carnivore jihad than I am. Let it be known that I tolerate vegetarians, if only to convert them to my true faith.
At 7am, the central food vendor section of Psar Orussei is buzzing with locals looking for their morning noodle or pork and rice injection. The vegetarian specialists were easy to find: they all have “VEGETA RIAN” or variants thereof plastered across the front of their stalls. After much conferring, Stall 177 was deemed the pick of the anti-meat vendors. I opted for the rice noodle soup (khtieav).
If I happened to be shipwrecked on a vegetarian island, after I had eaten my comrades and my stock of human jerky began to dwindle, wheat gluten would become my favourite meat analogue. In my soup, you will notice two distinct forms of gluten, fecklessly pretending to be meat. A few rubbery mushroom balls, lettuce, spring onions, and a single slice of carrot provide some more flotsam in the thin vegetable stock. Proportionally, there was an excellent ratio of rice noodle to flotsam. My vegetarian friend heartily approves.
One third condensed milk, two-thirds coffee: from zero to toothless crone in a single glass.
Vegetarian khtieav and a cup of coffee (2500 riel, US$0.62)
Location: Stall 177, ground floor, Psar O’Russei, Phnom Penh