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Khmer Kitchen gets kudos from Laban

It’s been three months since a reader suggested we checked out Khmer Kitchen, which opened in July at 6th and Morris. Sad to say, we haven’t gotten the chance.

1700 S. 6th St. Photo from Row Home Eats

But now, Craig Laban’s glowing review for the humble Cambodian eatery gives us no choice, though we’re not too sure about all the mentions of “funky” fish paste.

Every dish here is made to order, which has earned Khmer Kitchen a reputation for slowness, even among Cambodians. But careful layering of the flavors is key, even down to a momentary ice-water bath for shredded cabbage just before blending into salads for maximum crunch. Aside from the bitter melon flowers, I loved the salad with raw beef, pleah sak-koe, thinly sliced eye-of-round tossed with lime and fish sauce. The shredded papaya salad, tossed with garlic, crushed peanuts, and tangy dressing, is a perfect example of Cambodians’ embrace of a more pungent fish sauce presence (fermented shrimp in this case) that isn’t for everyone.

Zimmern, with another bizarre food

Laban lauds the corner shop’s kabocha pumpkin stew, pineapple soup with rib tips and bowl of spicy ground pork called phrah-hok katheeth. He also praised its curry as “both lighter and more elegant than what I’ve tasted in American Thai restaurants.”

But what about those mentions of fermented monkfish? We’re plenty adventurous, but as far as we’re concerned, Andrew Zimmern is crazy. Should we take the plunge?
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