On our past trips to Cleveland, whenever we’ve visited the Westside Market we’ve either eaten there or dined at the Great Lakes Brewpub. All fine but enough trips driving down the always bustling West 25th Street made me see how many other food options there are. So on our most recent trip there right before Christmas, I decided we should finally try something else and that’s how we ended up at Phnom Penh, a Cambodian restaurant only a block from the market. As Pittsburgh doesn’t have any Cambodian restaurants, all the more reason for me wanting to dine there.
Phnom Penh is one of those restaurants where upon entering from the street, you’ll think you’re in a slightly different world, far from the busy and often congested West 25th Street. It’s definitely more of a no frills kind of place, although I loved the Cambodian decor that was found throughout the restaurant.
The menu is quite extensive, almost to the point of being a tad overwhelming (in a non-life threatening kind of way) for first time diners and also those not too knowledgeable on Khmer cuisine.
To drink, D went with a Thai Ice Tea ($2.55), whereas I opted for my favorite type of drink (in moderation that is), a green tea bubble tea. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but it was the first bubble tea I’ve had that tasted like there was ice cream in it. It was something I could have easily enjoyed on its own, without a full meal in addition. In the future, I would probably just go the Thai Ice Tea route or try one of the restaurant’s many fruit juices.
For starters, I ordered the Spring Roll while D got an egg roll. Although I’m unsure as to what all was in them, they came with an extremely delicious dipping sauce. I definitely could have had five more of them, though.
As I’m always a fan of noodle dishes no matter the cuisine, I decided to try the Original Khmer Stirred Pan Noodle dish for my main course (it’s also known as Kuy Tev Chha Khmer). It consisted of stir fried rice noodles with carrots, cabbage, fried egg, bean sprouts, Asian basil, scallions, and ground peanuts. Along with choosing your type of meat, you could also select your spicy level, which I appreciated. I know it’s hard to see from the below photo, but there are actual noodles underneath all of the protein on the plate.
For his main dish, D went the Thai route and chose Thailand’s most ubiquitous culinary offering, Pad Thai. You could have this famous noodle dish with your choice of either vegetables, chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, seafood, or a combination of chicken, pork, and shrimp. He opted for chicken. I thought the pickled cabbage made the plate especially festive. This was well received.
I truly enjoyed my meal at Phnom Penh for a variety of reasons. It was my first time eating Cambodian food and I liked it. Also, I got to try a new restaurant in a section of Cleveland I had never really experienced before. And lastly, it was a great dining experience with both delicious food and quick and attentive service.
In today’s world you can always have your pub food, but sometimes go the different route and support a small business that allows you to experience a different bit of the world through their cooking.