Do you see yourself as a food adventurer wandering from one meal to the next just to try new tastes? A true foodie will love walking on Street 402 in Toul Tompong. In case you don’t know, the 0.96-km narrow street located near the Chinese Embassy is regarded as the street food haven for residents there, especially students in the locality. With so many gustatory temptations, Taing Rinith and Som Kanika come to your aid with a whirlwind tour of the best dishes with affordable prices on the underrated food street – and how it is eaten. Especially this peculiar egg … bon appétit!
Num banh chuk sros
THERE is a state-run primary school on Street 402, and next to the school entrance is a nameless noodle stand with a few tables and chairs. Open from 7:30am to eight at night, it serves soup noodle and kuy teav, which most people enjoy in Cambodia, but the most popular dish is num banh chuk sros, a bowl of rice noodle and meat broth. It also contains tofu, pig blood curd, fish balls and a variety of vegetables such as okra and riverhemp. For just $1.25, you get an ideal combination of the savoury broth and the sweetness of the vegetables. Add a bit of tamarind sauce to go another flavour.
The ground fish and steamed rice paste, wrapped in a banana leaf parcel and cooked over a charcoal fire, is the iconic food of Battambang in north-western part of the country. But you don’t need to travel 300km just to eat it. Also near the primary school on Street 402 is a small eatery that serves sangbak with Khmer noodle (white noodle) and vegetables at only $1.25. The right way to consume it is to wrap sangvak and cucumber with spinach or cabbage, and dip the whole thing into the garlic sauce. Yummy!
Known as som ram in Thailand and gỏi đu đủ in Vietnam, the well-known street green papaya salad has also stamped its mark of popularity in Street 402. There are many vendors hawking it in the area, yet you can find the most appetising version in Bok Lahong Ptas Boran. There are many options of Bok lahong on the small restaurant’s menu: seafood, pate and so on, but nothing beats the $1.25 original with pickled freshwater crabs. We recommend eating the salad with steamed sticky rice ($0.25) and grilled chicken wings ($0.85).
Pong tea kon
Now, this one is a queasy adventure, not so much on your palate as on your concept of life in its early formative years. It is quite the most unappetising on the list.
Yet, to be honest, pong tea kon (known as balot in the Philippines), which can be simply described as a developing duck (yes, a duck) embryo boiled and eaten from the egg (secret: it tastes better than it looks).
Cambodian people believe that food like this gives them giga-bites of energy and even functions as “natural Viagra”, according to Gordon Ramsey, who ate it during his filming of the Great Escape in Cambodia.
Nestled at the corner of Street 402 and Street 173 is a small shop selling the eggs at $0.50 each. The shop is always crowded during its opening hours (from late afternoon till late night). It is best eaten with pepper, salt and lime as well as pickled garlic and herb. The shop also serves desserts, especially the sweet red bean soup with shaved ice.