Food File: Cambodian Nom Ban Chock
Even though we’d slept in, we were determined to track down the Cambodian breakfast dish of nom ban chock, often called simply Khmer noodles in English.
We were working our way through the popular Cambodian dishes listed on Wikipedia. It was morning, we were in Cambodia and for once we weren’t up at the uncivilised hour of 4.30am to greet the dawn.
We wanted nom ban chock before we started our excursion to see one of the lesser-known floating villages on Lake Tonle Sap. But our tour guide, the lovely Mr Chan, was right there in front of us, regarding our sleepy presence, our toddler and my notebook with some trepidation. Behind his smile, I could see him trying to weigh up whether or not we were going to be difficult customers.
“Can you take us to eat breakfast?” I asked, standing right outside our hotel’s breakfast room.
Mr Chan looked slightly alarmed. He is employed by the hotel. This could present a bit of a dilemma.
I consulted my notebook.
“Nom ban chock,” I declared. “Can you take us to a place that serves nom ban chock?”
Darling Man tried to add some weight to my request. “We like to eat local food,” he said. “Street food.”
An Asian man asking for street food was slightly more believeable than a blonde-headed Westerner with a toddler on her hip, apparently.
Still looking slightly worried, Mr Chan said he know a place we could stop at on the way to our floating village.
We boarded our brilliant green tuk-tuk and raced through some Siem Reap backstreets. We stopped at a small food shack right beside the Ly Srey Vyna II Clinic.
(The location made me wonder which business had set up first, the food stall or the clinic. Was the clinic required because the food stall was there?)
Oblivious to my not-quite-awake ponderings, Mr Chan got down to business. “You want spicy or not-spicy,” he asked, listing the shack’s entire menu.
I went for the non-spicy.
With a practiced hand, the nom ban chock lady quickly ladled one serve into a bowl.
I carried my bowl to a plastic table and began taking photos of it, much to the amusement of the other diners.
It was delicious – a mild satay-ish curry over cold noodles. Hiding amongst the noodles were bean sprouts, shredded banana flower, cucumber, lettuce and slices of lotus stem.
7 years ago