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The restaurant Trip Advisor ranked as Phnom Penh’s finest

The exterior of Mok Mony, on Street 294
The exterior of Mok Mony, on Street 294 Scott Howes

The restaurant Trip Advisor ranked as Phnom Penh’s finest

After opening at the end of last year, affordable Khmer and Asian eatery Mok Mony climbed to the top of the online chart – but does it deserve the position? Post Weekend tested out the menu

Mok Mony – a clean, modestly sized Khmer and Asian eatery on Street 294 with equally modest prices – has won a lot of fans since opening at the end of last year. This month, the place garnered enough positive feedback to catapult – albeit briefly – to the number one spot on Trip Advisor’s restaurant rankings – ahead of much more expensive establishments like Friends the Restaurant, Topaz and The Lost Room.

While you’ve got to take sites like Trip Advisor with a grain of salt – who really understands how their arcane ranking system works? – I popped down there for lunch last week with a colleague to see what all the fuss was about. I found it to be a bright little place; it has glass walls on two sides and sliding doors leading out to a pleasant courtyard area. Inside, cutesy powder blue bird cage light fixtures match blue and white wall tiles giving the place a kitsch, retro look (though the two large, gold-framed Angkorian paintings on walls seem a bit out of place).

The menu is long – mostly Khmer dishes and a few from Malaysia – and it took a few moments to find the most interesting entries. We ended up going with some fairly meaty options, but there were plenty that would keep vegetarians happy too.

Rare marinated beef with coriander and peanuts
Rare marinated beef with coriander and peanuts Scott Howes

First up we shared some beef wrapped in beetle-nut rolls ($4) cooked and served on skewers with a tart lemon-pepper-chilli dipping sauce and sprinkled with peanuts. Soft, slightly chewy and a little sweet, they disappeared faster than you can say “All you need is love” (get it? Beatle-nut rolls? No? I’ll get my coat. . .).

The second round was rare marinated beef with coriander and peanuts. And they mean rare. The concept was a lot like ceviche, in which acidic lemon juice “cooks” the meat, but with beef instead of fish. Strongly dominated by the lemon juice and coriander flavours, my dining companion wondered what the point was of eating beef when you couldn’t taste it. I enjoyed the tender and fleshy texture all the same.

To finish, we had cabbage wrapped pork wontons in chicken broth, which were adorably tied with a spring onion spear. Salty and garlicky, they weren’t the highlight of the meal, but were tasty nonetheless.

As a short coda to the meal, complimentary watermelon slices were served.

The service throughout was friendly, if not especially speedy. The owner – a chatty Malaysian-Canadian – and the one waitress working went tag-team on the service, taking our orders, bringing and clearing the food and sorting out the bill.

While, the food doesn’t exactly come hurtling out of the kitchen, the dishes seemed to be relatively complicated, so you wouldn’t really expect them to.

From Malaysian-style pork ribs stewed in a tamarind-based coconut kapitan curry sauce ($4) to ribs marinated in espresso and deep fried and served an espresso savory sauce ($6), there’s plenty on the menu to try next time.

And there will be a next time.

While definitely not my number one restaurant in Phnom Penh, with its flavoursome and good value food, I’m happy to add Mok Mony to my roster of regular lunch and dinner spots.

Mok Mony is located at #63c Street 294. Ph: 095 970 861. Web: mokmony.com

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