Eat: Great Burgers at Java

I have been wanting to share my favourite burger with you for some time now, the only problem is I've never got my camera with me when I eat one.  But finally the other week I made a special trip so that I could share it with you.

My favourite place for burgers in PP is Java Cafe and Gallery on Sihanouk Blvd.  Its in a great location, just a stone's throw from the Independence Monument. (And just around the corner from work!)  The cafe is also a gallery space so there's usually something interesting to look at.   Downstairs is air-conditioned, but personally I prefer to sit on their lovely terrace upstairs.

 From the terrace you have a lovely view overlooking one of the city parks.

Java has a great selection of cafe style food, but the burgers are definitely its biggest draw card for me.  They all come with your choice of cheese, and fries (of course).  The Mushroom Burger is pretty good, and The Boy's favourite is the Bacon Chicken Burger, but for me the ultimate is their Blue Cheese Chicken Burger.

The Boy's Bacon Chicken Burger...

My Blue Cheese Chicken Burger...

That lovely chicken breast oozes Blue Cheese...mmmm.


(Sorry I think food that's been half eaten is kind of gross but I really wanted to show you the centre of the chicken dripping with blue cheese, yum!)

The fries can be a little hit and miss, but overall a great burger.

If you are going for dinner, make sure you turn up between 5 pm and 7 pm for Happy Hour.  All cocktails are half price.  I recommend the Passionfruit-Mint Caprioska, its delicious and only $1.50 during happy hour!  You might even get some complimentary home-made crisps.

As I mentioned, Java is also a gallery, here's a peak through the window at the current installation. 

We were fortunate to catch a glimpse of artists at work, in the middle of Sihanouk Boulevard!  (Sorry about the picture quality, didn't have my DSLR with me.)

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Eat: No fuss pizza and pasta at Aria d'Italia

I've been a bit quiet on the blog front as we really haven't been doing a whole lot.  But recently The Boy and I recently tried out Aria d'Italia, on Street 310.  

I had heard about this place from few of the PP dining guides, but never passed it.  If you're looking for it it's just behind Khmer Borann (diagonally opposite Gloria Jeans).

I love pizza and pasta, so the menu here really appealed to me.  It's predominately pizza and pasta with a few soups and salads, and just a few main dishes thrown in.  But, more importantly, how cool is the back of the menu?

Am I the only person who thinks this is an awesome idea, especially to keep you occupied when your dining companion heads to the bathroom??

My obligatory beginning to any Italian meal is garlic bread, and the garlic bread here is not bad.

I was surprised to see gnocchi on the menu, I don't think I've ever seen gnocchi on a menu in PP, so I had to give it a shot, of course.

The Gorganzola sauce was yummy, but unfortunately the gnocchi tasted more like mashed potato  : (

The Boy's pizza, on the other hand, was delicious.

I also rather liked their house wine.

Dinner was capped off with some fruit, on the house.  A nice touch, I thought.

One thing I love about Aria d'Italia is that you can look straight into their kitchen and watch the chefs preparing your pizza.  I'm always happy to eat somewhere that's confident enough to let you peek into their kitchen!

I really wanted dessert but we were so full that we had to get it to go (I know, most people just wouldn't get dessert, but we are not most people!).  The Tiramisu was recommended, but we ended up going for the Chocolate Mousse.  I know it doesn't look so great in its take home packaging, but it was very nice, with a hint of coffee flavour.

But the highlight was definitely the Pannacotta with Passionfruit Caramel Sauce.  Again, it doesn't look so great here after the trip home, but trust me, it tasted fantastic.  The Passionfruit sauce complimented the vanilla pannacotta perfectly.  I was very impressed.

The staff here are really friendly and on to it.  If you're into no fuss pizza and pasta then this is the place for you.
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Wishlist: Puppy

Lately I've been wanting a puppy.  I have decided against it, as, for one, I'm simply not responsible, so pets are out!  Instead, I have been contenting myself with befriending the cute dogs in our neighbourhood.  

I met this guy last week.  How cute is he?  

Want, want, want.

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Shop: Great gifts and souvenirs from the Russian Market

I recently had to pick up some gifts, and the best market for gifts in Phnom Penh is the Russian Market (Psaa Toul Tom Poung).  The Russian Market is the tourist market in Phnom Penh.

This is the place to come to if you want to buy....




TIP:  If you are buying silver jewelry, you'll get a better price from the shops on the southern side of the market, than from those in the centre of the market.

Factory rejects... 

TIP:  Check the labels and quality carefully, not everything here is 'genuine'.

Bags, Scarves and other souvenirs...

You'll need to bargain, but there's some great stuff here.

A lot of work has been done recently to clean the market up a bit, and, as you can see, it's quite easy to navigate and no where near as cramped as it used to be.

Once you've had your fill of the market I recommend strolling down to The Coffee House for refreshments ; )

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Eat: Fast Food at Pelican Pies

Okay, so I've been very quiet lately.  For two reasons, first The Boy has been sick, which has meant a lot of chilling out at home watching movies, secondly work has been really busy.

Normally I am blessed with a one and half hour lunch break.  Which I have to admit I have grown to love.  Plenty of time to eat, run the odd errand, go for a walk etc.  It's glorious.  Unfortunately the past couple of weeks most days I've been so busy that I've had to rush back to the office as soon as I've scoffed my lunch.  Which brings me to a problem I have recently identified: Phnom Penh does not have much fast food.  

I should clarify, by fast food I don't mean KFC and Lucky Burger, I mean decent food in a hurry.  When I was working in Oz I could duck out and grab lunch in 10 minutes.  There were countless options all ready and waiting, sushi, sandwiches, salads, soups...all pre-prepared and waiting to be grabbed and taken back to work.  But here in Phnom Penh, although there are many lunch options, there are very few that are pre-prepared and ready to go, not many places where you just dash in and grab something.

So last week when I was crazy busy at work and had all of about 15 minutes to get lunch I could think of only one option.  A pie from Pelican Pies.  

The pie menu is pretty simple.  All pies are $3.50.

The great thing about pies is they are sitting there, piping hot and ready to eat.  I went for the daily special.... steak & mushroom, and it was on a plate in front of me within 20 seconds.

My only gripe is that it could have done with a little more steak.

I love the fact that the TV there is tuned to the Australia Network and I could listen to Wil Anderson's Aussie accent as I ate my very Australian lunch.  

The pie was average, but if you're after fast food (and don't want KFC or Lucky Burger) this is one of the few options.

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Eat: Breakfast at Willow

The other day, The boy and I decided to sneak in breakfast at Willow before heading into work.  I actually discovered Willow by accident as I was going for a stroll at lunchtime a few weeks ago.  

I love just relaxing on the terrace here, it feels like a little haven.

The Boy and I used to have Eggs Benedict for breakfast all the time in Oz.  To be honest it's hard to find good poached eggs anywhere, but its even harder to find a good Eggs Benedict in Phnom Penh.  Willow's offering isn't bad.  Its reasonably cheap (around $5.50 if my memory is right).  The poached egg was perfect.  I tried to get a photo while the yolk was oozing out but I was a bit slow!  The peppered ham was delicious, my only complaint is that its served on what I think was a homemade bagel, rather than an english muffin.  But overall not bad at all.

The coffee was okay.

To be honest the main reason I come here is for the peaceful and pretty surrounding.   

Willow is also a boutique hotel, I haven't seen the rooms but the foyer is decorated beautifully so I assume the rooms would be nice too.  It's a good location just a couple of blocks from the Independence Monument, and you'd have a great spot to have your breakfast every morning!  

The lunch and dinner menu looks pretty good too, and quite well-priced.

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Eat: My go to place for lunch - The Shop, Street 240

I mentioned in one of my posts  a week or so ago that I always seem to end up eating at the same places, and, while I do want to branch out and try new places, there is usually a reason that I keep going back to my favourites.  The Shop on Street 240 is one place I never seem to tire of.

The Shop is somewhat of an institution among expats, it also happens to be my 'go to' place for lunch.  

The cafe is bright and airy and there is a small courtyard out the back, although my favourite spot is at one of the two tables just outside the front door. It does get busy at lunch time, but you can usually find a seat at the bar even if there are no tables.  

The staff are always so friendly, it feels like you've popped in to see friends.

They have a great range of fruit shakes and smoothies (try the Lychee Mint Cooler or the Pineapple Passion Smoothie) and an amazing selection of cakes.  

The menu changes weekly and always has a selection of soups, quiches, pies, salads, sandwiches and wraps.  In other words pretty much all your standard lunch fare is covered (and much of it for less than a fiver).  The menu often features things such as imported cheeses and lamb (my personal favourite - this lamb wrap was delicious!).

I generally try and avert my eyes from the cake cabinet to avoid temptation, everything in it looks and tastes amazing.  My personal fave is the Citrus cake, alternate layers of citrus curd and fluffy sponge covered in a thin layer of dark chocolate ganache, its heaven.  Tragically, the last time I visited it wasn't available and I settled on a chocolate eclair instead.

Washed down with a Cafe Latte, with homemade palm caramel.  I'm sure true coffee connoisseurs would not approve of the addition, but I love the caramelly sweetness of the palm caramel, and I get to feel good since I'm sure its healthier than refined white sugar. One day I'm going to figure out how to make that caramel as I think it would be heavenly poured over vanilla bean ice-cream.

If you do decide to lunch at the shop, don't forget to check out their homemade breads before you leave.  Its difficult to find good bread in Phnom Penh and The Shop has one of the better offerings.

Oh, and the breakfast menu is pretty good too ; )

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5 things I miss...

Today I was thinking about what I miss about my home country.  When I moved here I thought I would miss a lot of things, but, a few years down the track, I realise that there are only a few things that I really miss.  Of course I miss family and friends, but these days its so easy to keep in contact that I often talk to them more frequently since I moved here than I did when I lived closer.  But most of the things I thought I'd miss I really don't.  

On the other hand I am often surprised by what I do miss.  Most of the things I find myself missing are things I didn't really care about when I was living back home, and certainly never imagined myself missing them.  Don't get me wrong, I love living in Phnom Penh and in a lot of ways I find living here more enjoyable than my home country.  But there are a few things I really miss.  Like...

1.  Price Tags
While I love market shopping, and I have gotten used to bargaining (I still don't enjoy it), I really miss price tags.  I miss being able to peruse a store checking the tags as I go, immediately knowing whether something is in my budget or good value, or whether I should keep walking. 

Image from here
2.  Footpaths
I love walking.  A lot of the time I would rather walk somewhere than take a car or motorbike.  However Phnom Penh has only a few footpaths in the very centre of the city, and most of these are scattered with obstructions.  Head out to the suburbs and there is nothing, so you are forced to negotiate dusty streets, and, at least in our neighbourhood, pot-holes, while trying to avoid being knocked over by the other road users, breathing in fumes and dust.  All while being asked every 20 metres whether you would like a tuk-tuk or a moto.  I used to live an easy walk from a great market, but I never walked because it was just so unpleasant.

3.  Shopping Malls
Image from here
This is one thing I never thought I'd miss.  I didn't even like shopping malls in Australia, choosing instead to frequent shopping strips.  And, to be fair, there are shopping malls in Phnom Penh.  But, I miss being able to go to a big shopping mall and know that no matter what was on my shopping list I would be able to find it there, all under one roof.  I'm not sure whether the shopping malls here fulfill the needs of locals, but I know for me I invariably have to go to 3 or 4 places just to do my normal grocery shopping.  If I want something out of the ordinary I may have to try another 3 or 4 places before finding it.  After subscribing to forums about Phnom Penh, I know that I am not the only one who struggles to find everyday items.

4.  Public Transport
Image from here
This is kind of in the same line as Number 1, but I really miss trains and buses.  True motodups and tuk-tuks take you from door-to-door and will stop for 10 minutes and wait for you while you grab some last minute groceries on your way home. (Try asking your bus driver to do that!)  But sometimes I just want to jump on a bus, pay my fare and be done with it, no hassles bargaining on the street to get the right price and no wondering whether the driver actually knows where you are going.

Image from here
5.  Blending In
This is probably what I miss most of all.  The sense of anonymity that most of us take for granted in our home countries.  Here, wherever I go, I am noticed.  Children cry out, "Hello, hello", I overhear people's conversations turn to the activities of the barung (foreigner).  Tuk-tuk drivers and motos emerge from all directions.  Our neighbours look into our window to watch me in the kitchen, cooking or washing up.  I miss walking down the street and knowing that nobody else could care less.

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Eat: Best cheesecake in PP (so far!) at the Coffee House

Cheesecake is one of my favourite things in the whole world.  However, its not really a particularly Cambodian dessert.  For a while I was making my own, as cream cheese is surprisingly well priced here (buy a 1kg block from Thai Hout).  But making a whole cheesecake every time I got a craving was not good for our waistlines. 

Since then I've been on the lookout everywhere for the cheesecake that's just right.  There are quite a few cafes around that feature cheesecakes but more often than not they are chilled rather than baked.  I, however, I am definitely more a fan of the baked variety, so they haven't quite done it for me.

However I recently found a great baked cheesecake.  Not only that it's only $3 for a generous slice.  Not a bad price for cheesecake.  Plus its just around the corner from the Russian Market so perfect for your after-shopping coffee and cake.

You can find it here:

The Coffee House and The Wine Store are essentially the same place, located about two blocks down the road from the Russian Market (Psaa Toul Tom Poung) on Street 155.  Inside is perfectly air-conditioned so its a great spot to recover after a busy morning bustling around the market.

In addition to cheesecake they have a wide range of Italian Sodas that they make to order.  This is the Raspberry Mojito flavour, the mint is so refreshing (plus it's pretty!).

The coffees are pretty good too.

But, the reason I come here is the creamy baked cheesecake with blueberry sauce.  Yum!!!

In addition to great drinks and cheesecake, the staff are really friendly and efficient.

My official 'go-to' place for cheesecake!
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