« A Saving Grace in Sri Em | Main | Gat Luang Diaries V: Crispy Crullers and Deep-Fried Dragons »




Thank you for this thoughtful post. I totally agree with you that Cambodia has great street food. I ate juicy fried frog legs at a stall just outside central market in Phnom Penh, really good beef / beef ball noodle soup with wide rice noodle in the beach town SihanoukVille .... would love to check out Siem Reap. As for hygiene, it always varies from good to bad doesn't matter what country it is, my rule of thumb is always checking out how they handle the dirty dishes.


Those Vietnamese style noodles are called ban hoi and the rice porridge is called bobor.

I agree that great street food in Cambodia may not be as easy to find as other countries, but if you look for it, it's there!


My mouth is watering reading this, despite the fact that I got horribly sick in Siem Riep. However, I think it was from "homemade" foie gras served to me at a French expat's restaurant. We did not order it, but could not refuse as it was so proudly offered. My husband, an avid traveler (and street food lover), suffers terribly from parasites he picked up, probably in Southeast Asia or Central America--have you had similar problems?

Sharon Miro

I LOVE your maps!


I would get on a plane RIGHT NOW if I could, just to have what's in the top photo.

Agree that just because it's street food and "authentic" doesn't mean it's good just as an uber expensive meal isn't always good. It's all about who's doing the cooking, their skills, and the quality of the food they start with.

Food in SR has vastly improved in the last decade. Can't wait to see what's there when I go back next year.


As a lover of street food I can only blush and feel that I sometimes fall for the excitement of the $1 bowl of noodles in the open air. I feel like I'm in a constant state of learning even after years of travel and delving into street and street style food. It's just plain hard not to get excited by those first few mouthfuls when you first hit a new place.

Thanks for such a great insight into questions I ask myself all the time, to be sure I'll be thinking more about the food first and not just the joy of eating by the road.

Account Deleted

Great post.
One of the best yet. Exceptionally well focused and written. Again.

Steve Jackson

"...that street food eaters don't enjoy any kind of superiority over non-street food eaters -- eat street food or don't, I make no judgement"


I wrote something a few weeks back that was prompted by streetfood snobbery - in particular those looking down their noses and people who don't eat all their dishes on the street.


On the flip side of that there is also a growing number of people who claim to be major streetfood eaters and, really their streetfood experiences are all about the instagram pics and less about actually eating.

Personally I'm not a big streetfood eater for all sorts of reasons. The most usual one is sweating buckets on a chair liable to collapse under my weight isn't my idea of fun. The other thing is that while I have no problems with hygiene I am a bit more picky over fat, skin, livers, kidney, blood etc. Strangely the older I get and the longer I spend in Asia the more I feel like that. I don't eat to impress anymore - myself or anyone else. Though great streetfood is unbeatable. And yes, yes, yes I agree about that price thing but then again, living here, that bugs me about a lot of things. Countless tweets from people broadcasting the price of everything as they buy or consume it. After a while it seems more like you're enjoying poverty too much.

The other thing I wanted to put out is that streetfood bloggers so rarely don't enjoy a meal. Fair enough if you eat in only recommended locations but the narrative tends to be, we found this little place and it was wonderful. They can't all be wonderful. What are we doing here? Is this just meal spotting to be ticked off? People don't eat food, they do it. People come to Hanoi to do bun cha.

Finally personally I feel food blogging is getting very tired. What I love about this blog and what keeps me coming back is the story around the food. Travel writing has been trashed by the "nomad", content farming, top ten tips writing industry. This, like the wonderful Chengdu piece I just commented on, is great vintage travel writing - each plate of food is a destination.

I think we live in a world where we now have a reasonable take on even the most far flung countries - it's the personal that makes writing stand out and engage.


Hey Steve -- Well what can I say about your comment? The kind that can make a writer's day. And I love that phrase -- "each plate of food is a destination." Because that's exactly how I feel.
I never started this blog to score readers or hits or become a famous or "powerful" food/travel blogger. I still write exactly what I want when I want, and I don't tailor my posts to what I think people will read most. Once I go that direction this becomes another job and I have enough writing jobs to do. I enjoy being here (on this blog) and I want to keep it that way.
As for street food ... I love it when it's great. And often, as you point out, it's not. I don't see the point of blogging the crap places I've tried. And TBH I don't eat it as often as I used to. When we're at home in Penang we eat at a stall maybe twice a week, and quite often we revisit favorites. When a friend is in town (or when I'm doing food walks with visitors) we'll eat all over the place.
I do think street food eating offers a different perspective. It's one I wish every traveler could have, but if they elect not to so be it. I am so not into the traveler versus tourist thing, esp when it comes to how someone who is traveling prefers to eat.
Oh yeah -- also, I travel alot but I'm not a nomad. ;-)


Great post. Like Steve, the food and travel articles I enjoy most are the ones that take me on a personalized tour. Your blog posts never fail to do that. As for street food vs resto food, both can be outstanding or terrible. Each offers a different experience. When visiting a new region, I like to visit both kinds of places; I want to eat the soup made at 5 in the morning then carried in shoulder baskets by a woman on foot and to visit the fancier restaurants too, to taste a wide cross-section of a country's cuisine. Best of all of course,is to snag an invite to eat a regular family dinner or two. Ultimately, people all have their different opinions and tastes, so while it's great to try a lot of different things, not everyone enjoys that. While they may be missing out, I figure they should eat where they feel comfortable and come away with good memories of a country. The first thing I hear from many of my Vietnamese friends, when returning from a visit to not even a new country but a different region within VN, invariably is "The food was terrible". The less experience a person has had with different styles of food, the more likely they'll have difficulty appreciating foods that for them are out of the ordinary. I've met travellers who felt that all food in VN was terrible because it wasn't like the food in the little pho resto back in their own hometowns. I'm getting off the specific topic of street food now, so I'll stop here. Keep up the great writing.


Great post. Mmmmm my mouth is watering now.

Waxman Schoonover

Street food is popular here in our country. In spite of its ill effects based from research, still, I do love eating these stuff since high school.

Looking at the pictures make me crave more! That is quite different from what we used to eat here. But still look yummy!

David Lee

Nice story. The only part that's missing is the name of the dish with the eggrolls, noodles, and chili sauce at the top of the article and where you got it. I will be going to Siem Reap in February and that dish looks amazing. Any other tips would be much appreciated. Thanks and eat well.


The comments to this entry are closed.

Look Inside and Pre-Order! Also available at Barnes&Noble and Indiebound.