tonight mission pie hosted a pop up by nyum bai, a local cambodian enterprise working with la cocina. it was a little hectic, with a large turnout, limited seating, and a bit of confusion service wise, but pretty solid fare from a cuisine with otherwise very little presence in this city.
i ordered sach ko ang, beef skewers seasoned with kroeung, or a seasoning paste heavy with lemongrass flavor, nom paw, a khmer style pork bun, and kuy tio phnom penh, cambodia’s famous pork noodle soup.
the skewers looked like they would be dried out, but rather they were a little chewy but quite tender. typing this right now i’m chewing on the leftovers cold, and they’re still good. slight heat, strong lemongrass flavor. came with shredded carrots, cucumbers and green papaya pickle relish.
the khmer bao came four to an order, with a generous filling of ground pork strewn with bits of rice noodle, wood ear mushroom, lap cheong, and a slice of hard cooked egg. i’m too lazy to resteam them to soften the now dense dough, but they came out hot and fluffy.
but i was there for the kuy tio. i’ve also seen this dish romanized as kuy teav, ka teav, among other spellings. i first had this at a little spot in stockton and i’ve been trying to find it in the city since then, but no dice. you can find it at viet places as hu tieu nam vang, but…those are viet places. i don’t know if this qualifies as cambodia’s national dish, but it seems to come close.
this version seemed pretty spartan as far as garnishes go. no shrimp, fish cake, squid, liver, just about the pork. ground pork and two slices of slow cooked shoulder, cilantro, green onion, and toasted minced garlic over a generous (i would say over generous) mound of thin rice noodles with mung bean sprouts in a clear, clean pork broth with a bit of dried seafood sweetness and funk. i wanted more broth, less noodles. i couldn’t finish the whole bowl but i may have been the only one in my party to have that problem. the dish also came with a lime wedge on the side and slices of you tiao.
to spice things up, there was a dark brown hot sauce (tamarind based?), pickled whole bird chiles, and sliced pickled fresno chiles. my cambodian friend (who told me about the event) handed me a bottle of hoisin and said it goes really well with the soup. i grabbed the bottle but stopped, saying, “i don’t really like hoisin.” she said that cambodians tend to sweeten their dishes up as she squirted a healthy spiral of hoisin over her noodles.
which came really late, unfortunately. the system is order at the counter and they bring you your food at the table. i ordered first and received my food first, and she ordered second. there were six of us in our party and she received her bowl of noodles well after everyone else got their orders, and only after nagging staff a few times. i’m not sure if all of the monday night dinners at mission pie are this hectic, but the staff seemed overwhelmed.
for the price ($11-12, can’t remember exactly) i wish there had been more than two slices of pork. it was delicious, and tender, but it felt a little skimpy. or, the addition of some of the other toppings i mentioned above would be nice. there were too many noodles for the amount of soup, and i thought that was too bad because i loved the broth. but i will definitely be checking nyum bai’s site for future events. they cater as well.
oh and tonight they also had two kinds of cambodian jook, one chicken and one veggie. an ice cream sandwich, and a salad with tamarind dressing.