It was one of those rare nights where we both finished work early and found ourselves in downtown Vancouver. The question we asked was where we should go for dinner. The two options: happy hour or Phnom Penh.
We chose Phnom Penh because we don’t ever get to stop by at non-peak lunch or dinner hours. Phnom Penh is famous for its long line-ups. When we go for lunch or dinner, our favorite trick is to get a spot in line and then head across the street to Ramen Butcher for some noodles first and then pop back in for some chicken wings. Many times we’ve seen tourists outside Phnom Penh dazed that anyone would wait 90 minutes to get in. Let us tell you: it’s completely worth it.
We showed up at 5pm thinking that there wouldn’t be a line-up. Amazingly, there was! We waited for 10 minutes before we were seated. We ordered a bowl of there Phnom Penh noodles and a large order of their deep fried garlic wings. Do not come here and order the small plate of the wings. Trust us on this one.
If you looked around the restaurant, you would see that nearly every table has a plate of these chicken wings. You simply cannot come here and not order them. The top of these wings were covered in chunks of sautéed garlic and sliced green onions. We bit into the delightfully crispy battered skin to find delicious mouthful of chicken.
The fried batter was never too thick but yet managed to hold a ton of flavor – salty and slightly sweet at the same time. If we had to say, we’d guess that there was a mix of fish sauce, sugar and MSG in the batter. Each bite was an explosion of flavor and we devoured these wings.
Confession: these aren’t the best noodles I’ve ever had. There are other places that does pho a lot better. But what I do like is that they give a nice assortment of meats like flank, tripe and beef balls. The cuts of meat are of decent quality considering the price ($8.25). You also get a lot of noodles. It’s enough that Howie and I are full on an order of wings and this bowl of noodles.
I do find that the noodles soak up the broth very quickly. Usually by the time we’re down to our last serving of noodles, there’s hardly any broth left. I think because I’m someone who loves broth so much, the lack of it at the end makes me not love these noodles as much as I could.
Phnom Penh is one of those restaurants that deserves the hype. Every minute you spend waiting outside is completely worth it. Please take our advice and get the large plate of chicken wings because you won’t regret it!