We came across this local joint after drinks at Red Piano, the Belgian-owned pub-restaurant that hit the big times when Angelina Jolie dined there in 2001 during the filming of “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”. Whilst Red Piano was smack in the middle of Siem Reap’s infamous Pub Street, where foreign tourists outnumber local Cambodians, and every eatery is more or less a tourist trap, Family Rice Noodles & Chives Cakes is just round the corner on Wat Bo Road, and serves simple Teochew-inflected local fare in a spartan, no-frills dining room.
We tried a simple fried noodle dish with beansprouts & chives, topped with a fried egg. In Singapore or Penang, we’d call it “char mee”, meaning simply ‘fried noodles’. Over here in Siem Reap, they call it “mee char”, which is instantly recognizable to us, even if the taste/texture of the noodle dish resembled nothing I’d had in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand or Indonesia. I’m wondering what condiment was used in frying the noodles.
Pan-fried chives cake, which goes well with a sweet-savoury dipping sauce. It’s called “nom ku chai”, a term easily recognised to us as the Cambodian “nom” is like a short-form of the Thai “khanom”, whereas “ku chai” is a Chinese-Teochew/Hokkien term for chives, but which has been absorbed into local SE-Asian languages like Thai, Indonesian and Filipino-Tagalog.
I’m still looking for that elusive memorable Cambodian meal - doesn’t matter whether it’s street food or fine dining. Cuisine Wat Damnak is closed for this holiday period. Our experience at Khmer Grill last night and Chanrey Tree tonight is nothing to write home about. We have a booking at Embassy on Friday but I’m not getting my hopes up too much.
Family Rice Noodles & Chives Cakes
Wat Bo Road
Krong Siem Reap
Tel: 016 535216
Opening hours: 2pm to 10pm daily