On my Singapore-Shanghai jaunt I spent a couple of nights in Phnom Penh and if the restaurants I tried hadn’t been up to scratch I would have been severely disappointed, since I was dining with Nick Ray. He’s the author of our Cambodia guide and also advised on locations for the movie Tomb Raiders’ Cambodian sites, Nick knows his way around the country. Friends was set up to employ street kids, many of whom go on to work in other hotels and restaurants. The food is superb.
When asked to name his top ten restaurants worldwide, Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler lists Friends of Phnom Penh, which left me with one question: what the fuck? I admire Friends’ work and know a couple of successful graduates from their hospitality training but their pseudo-tapas eatery hardly rates alongside the world’s or even Cambodia’s best restaurants. Although the Lonely Planet is almost my last resort for a restaurant recommendation (fitting somewhere between “moto-taxi driver” and “the khmer guy who eats the leftovers from my bin”), I’m going to take my future food advice from them with a mound of salt.