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dishes of food set up at FDR park
The Southeast Asian market at FDR Park
Diana Lu

Where Philly’s Cambodian Community Leaders Go to Eat

Find the best katieu Phnom Penh and other classic Khmer dishes, with help from those who know best

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The Southeast Asian market at FDR Park
| Diana Lu

With one of the largest Cambodian populations in any major city in the U.S., Philly’s food scene more than represents the Cambodian diaspora, which includes but is not limited to people who identify as Khmer (ethnic Cambodians from Cambodia), ethnic Chinese from Cambodia, ethnic Cambodians from South Vietnam, and ethnic Vietnamese from Cambodia. Whether you’re looking for a quick and satisfying noodle soup with coffee, portable street food, or an all-out feast for a family of ten, you can have all the Cambodian flavors you want in Philly, plus plenty of leftovers for a second dinner.

Here, leaders in the Cambodian community share where they go to get their favorite Khmer dishes — from Cambodian hoagies to rare beef salads to comforting congee.

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Daleng Restaurant

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A go-to for Southeast Asian dishes from Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. Things they do exceptionally well are crispy fried chicken wings (with or without tang tang sauce), Cambodian beef kroeung stir-fry (tofu is an option) with rice, stir-fried chow fun in gravy — a dish that exemplifies the Cambodian-Chinese/Vietnamese diaspora — and eggplant and veggie curry.

Fresh Donuts

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Roughly 90 percent of Southern California’s independently-owned donut shops are owned by Cambodian-Americans. And it’s all because of one man, Ted Ngoy, aka The Donut King. Owner Donald Eap and his family worked for Ngoy and brought the delicious tradition to Philly. This is a pastry family; Eap’s sister Amanda co-owns Artisan Boulanger Patissier. The Eap family opened their first shop, Fresh Donuts, in West Philly, in 1987. People go nuts for the apple fritters and classic yeasty donuts — they open at 5:30 a.m. and close when they run out.

The Southeast Asian Market at FDR Park

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Philadelphians and hungry travelers from Maryland, Delaware, New York, and New Jersey meet and mingle among dozens and dozens of tents selling Khmer street food, fresh sugarcane juice, and tropical fruit smoothies, spices, and fermented shrimp pastes made by aunties and home cooks.

On the shortlist of must-eats: grilled steak on a stick, deboned Cambodian chicken wings stuffed with meats and glass noodles, nom banchok (Khmer rice noodles in a light green curry with chicken and fish, topped with crunchy banana blossoms and a sugary chili crisp), ansorm chhrouk (tender pork belly and mung bean encased in sticky rice, best sliced and fried with fish sauce), Cambodian pork rolls, and steamed beef tripe and spleen with cabbage and cucumber salad and addictive anchovy peanut lime sauce. Move onto sweets like plae aie (sweet mochi-like balls stuffed with palm sugar and shredded coconut), coconut and black sesame rice cake, and sweet banana sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves and toasted on the grill, and crispy fried bananas fresh from a wok the size of a bass drum. The weekend market is open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., April through October.

Cambodian chicken curry and steamed beef tripe and spleen at FDR Park
Thai food at the Southeast Asian Market at FDR Park
Diana Lu

Suga Dady & JennYa’s Kitchen at the Southeast Asian Market

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Jennie Nam, known as the “Sugarcane Queen,” serves up classic Khmer and Viet dishes such as grilled steak with sour, sweet, and savory homemade prihik sauce, mum la hong (a yummy fermented shrimp and crunchy papaya snack), Phnom Penh noodles loaded with plump shrimps, and bun bo hue (Vietnamese spicy beef noodle soup). Nam also makes (and ships!) Khmer-style beef jerky (with different levels of spiciness) and sauces. Find her at the Southeast Asian Market at FDR Park on weekends.

Suga Dady & JennYa’s Kitchen/Facebook

East South Asian Cuisine

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Go for the Cambodian hoagie, which Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia’s Sarun Chan raves about for their nom pang pâté, sweeter mayo, and a variation of the bright red char siu Chinese barbecue pork. For those with offal-ly good taste, Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition’s Somaly Osteen crowns East South Asian “the best pork intestine,” in a hoagie or on rice.

New Phnom Penh Restaurant

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Cambodian American Girls Empowering’s Lanica Angpak goes to New Phnom Penh for her favorite comfort food, barbar kroeung, or Cambodian congee, which is “not as thick as Chinese congee and packed with pork, shrimp, and lots of toppings.” The Cambodia Association’s Sarun Chan comes here for katieu Phnom Penh noodle soup (hu tieu Nam Vang in Vietnamese) with dau chao quay (long sticks of fried dough).

Heng Seng Restaurant

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Specify katieu Phnom Penh gok (hu tieu nam vang in Vietnamese) for the dry toss noodles loaded with pork, shrimp, and fried shallots and accompanying pork bone broth on the side. Pair with cafe sua da (coffee with condensed milk over ice), and dunk dau chao quay (long sticks of fried dough) in both for the perfect brunch.

Tasty Tea

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This boba and drinks spot is new to the shops on South 7th Street and offers Khmer quick bites. SEAMAAC’s Somaly Osteen goes for the Lok Lak (peppery sweet steak) hoagie and milk tea with coffee jelly.

I Heart Cambodia Restaurant

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Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia’s Sarun Chan’s favorite salad in the city is the Khmer plear beef salad, extra spicy (rare beef lightly cured in lime juice and spices) while some prefer the Sadao salad with bitter flowers, shredded pork, and shrimp atop an herbaceous bouquet of cabbage and cucumber with a tangy tamarind sauce. Make it a meal with trey chhian chhoun, a gorgeous whole fried fish in a sweet and sour black bean sauce, somlor kor kou (slow cooked sour stew made with green papaya, pumpkin, and eggplant), and some peppery-with-a-hint-of-sweet steak with grilled onions and crunchy veggies.

Sophie's Kitchen

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The Cambodian Association’s Sarun Chan’s favorite dish is the sauteed chicken curry, while the Vendors Association at FDR Park’s Jennie Nam goes for the mee katang stir fried noodles, bitter salad with chicken wings, and somlaw gkaw gko (slow cooked sour stew made with green papaya, pumpkin, and eggplant). Seri Chao, who hosts a virtual Khmer supper club and is one half of the Southeast Asian power couple with wife Catzie Vilayphonh of Laos in the House, drools over the fried quail, papaya salad, and whole fried fish. One pro tip from him: “Gotta get the mango salad and tamarind dipping sauce to go with the fish.”

Nam Vang Restaurant

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Nam Vang, which is the Vietnamese translation of the capital city of Phnom Penh, serves epic mee katang seafood noodles that Sarun Chan says perfectly “marries together Khmer and Chinese flavors for a Southeast Asian twang to a classic Chinese dish [that] has warm and smoky flavors.” He adds that “the gravy is rich and tangy from the bamboos and the smoke from the wok lifts its flavor profile to another level.” Jennie Nam, the treasurer of the Southeast Asian Market Vendors Association at FDR Park, goes for the katieu Phnom Penh.

Daleng Restaurant

A go-to for Southeast Asian dishes from Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. Things they do exceptionally well are crispy fried chicken wings (with or without tang tang sauce), Cambodian beef kroeung stir-fry (tofu is an option) with rice, stir-fried chow fun in gravy — a dish that exemplifies the Cambodian-Chinese/Vietnamese diaspora — and eggplant and veggie curry.

Fresh Donuts

Roughly 90 percent of Southern California’s independently-owned donut shops are owned by Cambodian-Americans. And it’s all because of one man, Ted Ngoy, aka The Donut King. Owner Donald Eap and his family worked for Ngoy and brought the delicious tradition to Philly. This is a pastry family; Eap’s sister Amanda co-owns Artisan Boulanger Patissier. The Eap family opened their first shop, Fresh Donuts, in West Philly, in 1987. People go nuts for the apple fritters and classic yeasty donuts — they open at 5:30 a.m. and close when they run out.

The Southeast Asian Market at FDR Park

Philadelphians and hungry travelers from Maryland, Delaware, New York, and New Jersey meet and mingle among dozens and dozens of tents selling Khmer street food, fresh sugarcane juice, and tropical fruit smoothies, spices, and fermented shrimp pastes made by aunties and home cooks.

On the shortlist of must-eats: grilled steak on a stick, deboned Cambodian chicken wings stuffed with meats and glass noodles, nom banchok (Khmer rice noodles in a light green curry with chicken and fish, topped with crunchy banana blossoms and a sugary chili crisp), ansorm chhrouk (tender pork belly and mung bean encased in sticky rice, best sliced and fried with fish sauce), Cambodian pork rolls, and steamed beef tripe and spleen with cabbage and cucumber salad and addictive anchovy peanut lime sauce. Move onto sweets like plae aie (sweet mochi-like balls stuffed with palm sugar and shredded coconut), coconut and black sesame rice cake, and sweet banana sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves and toasted on the grill, and crispy fried bananas fresh from a wok the size of a bass drum. The weekend market is open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., April through October.

Cambodian chicken curry and steamed beef tripe and spleen at FDR Park
Thai food at the Southeast Asian Market at FDR Park
Diana Lu

Suga Dady & JennYa’s Kitchen at the Southeast Asian Market

Jennie Nam, known as the “Sugarcane Queen,” serves up classic Khmer and Viet dishes such as grilled steak with sour, sweet, and savory homemade prihik sauce, mum la hong (a yummy fermented shrimp and crunchy papaya snack), Phnom Penh noodles loaded with plump shrimps, and bun bo hue (Vietnamese spicy beef noodle soup). Nam also makes (and ships!) Khmer-style beef jerky (with different levels of spiciness) and sauces. Find her at the Southeast Asian Market at FDR Park on weekends.

Suga Dady & JennYa’s Kitchen/Facebook

East South Asian Cuisine

Go for the Cambodian hoagie, which Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia’s Sarun Chan raves about for their nom pang pâté, sweeter mayo, and a variation of the bright red char siu Chinese barbecue pork. For those with offal-ly good taste, Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition’s Somaly Osteen crowns East South Asian “the best pork intestine,” in a hoagie or on rice.

New Phnom Penh Restaurant

Cambodian American Girls Empowering’s Lanica Angpak goes to New Phnom Penh for her favorite comfort food, barbar kroeung, or Cambodian congee, which is “not as thick as Chinese congee and packed with pork, shrimp, and lots of toppings.” The Cambodia Association’s Sarun Chan comes here for katieu Phnom Penh noodle soup (hu tieu Nam Vang in Vietnamese) with dau chao quay (long sticks of fried dough).

Heng Seng Restaurant

Specify katieu Phnom Penh gok (hu tieu nam vang in Vietnamese) for the dry toss noodles loaded with pork, shrimp, and fried shallots and accompanying pork bone broth on the side. Pair with cafe sua da (coffee with condensed milk over ice), and dunk dau chao quay (long sticks of fried dough) in both for the perfect brunch.

Tasty Tea

This boba and drinks spot is new to the shops on South 7th Street and offers Khmer quick bites. SEAMAAC’s Somaly Osteen goes for the Lok Lak (peppery sweet steak) hoagie and milk tea with coffee jelly.

I Heart Cambodia Restaurant

Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia’s Sarun Chan’s favorite salad in the city is the Khmer plear beef salad, extra spicy (rare beef lightly cured in lime juice and spices) while some prefer the Sadao salad with bitter flowers, shredded pork, and shrimp atop an herbaceous bouquet of cabbage and cucumber with a tangy tamarind sauce. Make it a meal with trey chhian chhoun, a gorgeous whole fried fish in a sweet and sour black bean sauce, somlor kor kou (slow cooked sour stew made with green papaya, pumpkin, and eggplant), and some peppery-with-a-hint-of-sweet steak with grilled onions and crunchy veggies.

Sophie's Kitchen

The Cambodian Association’s Sarun Chan’s favorite dish is the sauteed chicken curry, while the Vendors Association at FDR Park’s Jennie Nam goes for the mee katang stir fried noodles, bitter salad with chicken wings, and somlaw gkaw gko (slow cooked sour stew made with green papaya, pumpkin, and eggplant). Seri Chao, who hosts a virtual Khmer supper club and is one half of the Southeast Asian power couple with wife Catzie Vilayphonh of Laos in the House, drools over the fried quail, papaya salad, and whole fried fish. One pro tip from him: “Gotta get the mango salad and tamarind dipping sauce to go with the fish.”

Nam Vang Restaurant

Nam Vang, which is the Vietnamese translation of the capital city of Phnom Penh, serves epic mee katang seafood noodles that Sarun Chan says perfectly “marries together Khmer and Chinese flavors for a Southeast Asian twang to a classic Chinese dish [that] has warm and smoky flavors.” He adds that “the gravy is rich and tangy from the bamboos and the smoke from the wok lifts its flavor profile to another level.” Jennie Nam, the treasurer of the Southeast Asian Market Vendors Association at FDR Park, goes for the katieu Phnom Penh.

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