Phnom Penh Review – Vancouver’s Famous Cambodian & Vietnamese Restaurant

Phnom Penh (or “Gum Bean” as it is referred to in Cantonese) is a legendary Vietnamese/Cambodian restaurant in Vancouver.

We’ve been eating here for what seems like over ten years, so I’m not sure how we haven’t reviewed it yet! Since the days when Gary and I would visit his brother and sister here on the mainland from Victoria, it was one of the restaurants we’d often frequent — along with other favourites like Cheesecake Etc., Tsim Chai, Peanuts Bubble Tea in the Richmond Public Market, etc.

In terms of location and ambiance, the restaurant (on East Georgia Street, in Chinatown) is not an area you’d want to hang around at night. And it’s not the most pleasantly decorated dining room either, but it does the job nonetheless (it is a hole-in-the-wall kind of place).

Since it’s such a popular restaurant, the place is always packed: Anticipate long wait times during peak lunch and dinner hours. Also, don’t expect much in terms of service. It’s an indifferent, get-ya-in, get-ya-out kind of place. They don’t really seem to care because they have throngs of repeat customers!

Phnom Penh is famous in Vancouver for their two signature dishes: crack-a-licious deep fried chicken wings and butter beef. You’ll notice these two plates on everyone’s table in the restaurant. Although it’s not my favourite, the Butter Beef ($12.85) is essentially thin slices of marinated raw beef (like a beef carpaccio dish) sprinkled with loads of fresh cilantro.

#35. Luc Lac ($9.50) – Another very popular dish, and one that I always order. This dish consists of a chopped fillet of beef in sauce over white rice, topped with a sunny-side-up fried egg and served with vegetable garnish.

Luc Lac before & after: Your supposed to pour the little bowl of fish/chilli sauce over your dish and then mix it all up, like the picture on the right. Delish!


We often get take-out from Phnom Phenh and it is equally as scrumptious:

#78. Phnom Penh Deep Fried Chicken Wings (Small $7.95 / Large $12.50) – Perfectly fried chicken wings with a crispy coating over the tender and moist meat inside. The “crack” lemon juice and pepper dipping sauce, is what really makes this dish.  Their #79 crispy deep fried squid and #76 deep fried prawns are prepared the same way and the chicken wings, served with the same tangy lemon pepper sauce, and just as tasty. I’m going to give it to you guys straight-up: Phnom Penh uses a substantial amount of MSG (more than an average restaurant) – which of course makes their food yummy and highly addictive.

#6. Two Kinds of Noodles ($7.25) – Dry egg noodles topped with prawns, minced pork, dry shrimp, sliced pork and liver, cilantro sprigs and chopped green onions; served with a side of pork bone soup, pictured above. The noodles are the optimal texture (a little bit al-dente), which gives them the perfect amount of chewiness.

Overall, the food is delicious. And with a plethora of items on the menu, most you can’t go wrong ordering. However, if you are sensitive to monosodium glutamate, then you must be warned that Phnom Penh uses A LOT of MSG!

Phnom Penh 金邊小館 on Urbanspoon

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About Taya & Gary

This husband and wife team search for the best dining experiences - including restaurant launches, new menu tastings and culinary events. Learn more about the couple here and connect with them on Twitter and Facebook.

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