Almost anything goes in Cambodia, when it comes to food, so a trip here will result in many delicious (and daring) food discoveries. Here’s our list of the most bizarre foods you’ll find in the Kingdom of Wonder.
In the floating village of Kampong Khleang, we stumbled upon these tiny clams. They’re a popular snack food, that you could find in pushcarts across the village. You could get yourself an entire bag full, and snack on it the way you’d snack on groundnuts by the beachside back in India!
Snake on a Stick
A popular snack at the night markets of Siem Reap, snakes can be found on almost all the insect carts. Unlike their Thai counterparts, the ones here are very well presented, in a nice s-shape with a skewer running through the middle. Taste wise as well, these were more flavorful than the ones we found at Khao San Road in Bangkok.
This is a popular panacea in South East Asia. You’ll spot bottles of wine with snakes inside them along all the markets and shops. The idea is that the snake adds a shot of its essence into the wine, thus making the drinker more ‘manly’. The ethanol in the alcohol neutralizes the venom of the snake, so it’s safe to drink.
The tradition of eating frogs and insects began in Cambodia during Pol Pot’s regime where the locals took to eating anything they could find to survive. Today, these have all been incorporated into Khmer cuisine and are popular amongst tourists as well. Unlike Europe where frogs legs are common, it’s not uncommon to see whole roasted frogs in Cambodia, which are a local delicacy.
Like the children’s rhyme goes, ‘There was once an old man who swallowed a spider’. The night markets of Cambodia are filled with insect carts selling this local delicacy. Would you dare to eat a fried tarantula? To know which Indian snack it tastes like, read: ‘Dare Eat That’, a guide to bizarre foods from around the world.
Bonus: If you’re worried about eating insects from street side carts, we recommend visiting ‘Bug’s Cafe’ in Siem Reap to try their extensive menu of bug-themed dishes. Our personal favourite was the Bee Larvae soup.
In our quest to find some of the world’s most bizarre foods, we’ve also managed to have some very unique food experiences. We’ve eaten on land, sea, and even underwater. This is a list of some of the most interesting foodie experiences we’ve had.
5. Archipelago, London
When you enter Archipelago, you’ll feel as though you’ve entered a Zen Buddhist garden. There are Buddha busts all around and lots of foliage. It’s therefore no surprise that I assumed I’d entered a vegan restaurant before I looked at the menu and realized it’s one of the top spots for a daring foodie! You get everything from python to crocodile to even chocolate covered locusts on the menu. It’s an interesting experience – with an ambience that serves to calm you down, as you eat the most daring of foods that are likely to send the adrenaline spiking!
4. Ham Nimh Fishing Village, Phu Quoc
The Ham Nimh fishing village is a tiny village on the island of Phu Quoc in Vietnam. The village pier has a bunch of tiny shacks lined up along the side that serve the freshest of catch. We literally saw the oysters being unloaded off the boat, onto the deck and taken into the kitchen to cook! Eating at the pier also allows you to look out onto the ocean while you eat, a beachside eating experience par none.
3. Ichiran Ramen, Tokyo
At Ichiran, eating is a deeply personal experience. To ensure that you focus on the tastes and textures, each diner is seated in an individual booth. You’re also asked to switch off all electronic devices, so it’s just you, and your bowl of ramen that you savor bite by bite. You’re given a multiple-choice list to select all the individual components of your ramen, and once you’re served, you’re left to enjoy your bowl of ramen all by yourself. The ramen itself is the best I’ve had, but the fact that they push you to focus on your meal just makes it that much more pleasurable.
2. Cricket Farm near Cu Chi, Ho Chi Minh City
Most adventurous would have tried crickets in various forms, including the most common, cricket flour. The more daring ones would have enjoyed fried crickets at the night markets across South East Asia. However, the key to truly enjoying a delicacy is to eat it as close to the source as possible. And that’s how we ended up at a cricket farm, where Vivek made a summer roll with crickets sourced from the farm we were at!
1. Ithaa Underwater Restaurant, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Ithaa is the world’s first underwater restaurant, and an unmissable experience. The restaurant is under the ocean, and has glass walls so as you eat you can look at the water life all around you. Our experience was even more entertaining because a father and son snorkeling duo missed the ropes cordoning off the area and ended up swimming right up to the restaurant. The child was mightily amused by the hordes of tourists eating within and gawking back at him. Now we know how the fish felt when they saw us!
My first brush with the Mad Hatter in London was when I ran into a group of theatre artists setting up the tea party scene right outside the Camden station. I didn’t expect to stumble upon them so easily – in fact, I’d already booked high tea at the Sandersons’ Hotel which does an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme. Nevertheless, the Camden troupe was a happy bonus, and I got one photo with the entire tea party crew including Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Mouse and the rest.
My reasoning for heading to the Sandersons’ tea was two-fold. One, I’d get to try out the fancy British tea with delicacies like scones that Enid Blyton had described so compellingly in her books. And two, I love Alice in Wonderland so the theme was just an added bonus. Sandersons has done a great job with the decor and the ambience – everything in the tea room was Alice themed, including brilliantly named teas that came in a pot titled ‘Drink Me’. There was also quite a spread to eat – the savories came in tiny tasting portions, and you could get repeats. The cakes, scones, macarons and all the sweet goodies were displayed on a giant cake stand at your table. We spent a few hours eating our way through it all and were quite stuffed at the end of it. This ones a highly recommended experience for any Lewis Carrol fans!
You already know that every market in Bangkok is going to yield something new and interesting to eat, so why bother making a list? Well, just in case you’re pressed for time this will help you prioritize so you don’t miss out on the best food
5. Chatuchak Market
While Chatuchak Market is a shoppers’ paradise, it also boasts of some amazing food stalls. After all, if you have over a km and 15000+ stalls to go through, you may as well fortify yourself with some food and drink! Vivek highly recommends the squid eggs at the food section.
4. Taling Chan Floating Market
What could be better than eating freshly caught seafood off the deck of a boat? This one’s both a meal, and an experience that’s once in a lifetime. Here’s why we recommend Taling Chan floating market as the stop for all foodies.
3. Khao San Road Night Market
Khao San is the party hub of Bangkok and where all the action is at dusk. Go for the restaurants, cafes and pubs, stay for the insect carts. If you’re truly daring you’ll find an endless variety here!
2. Soi Rambuttri
Soi Rambuttri is not as famous as Khao San Road, but should be. It’s a little alley off Khao San Road which boasts of the best street food in all of Bangkok. If you can spot this particular cart, you’ve located the best plate of Pad Thai you’re likely to find.
1. Khlong Tooei Wet Market
This is the market that supplies almost all of Bangkok with its fresh food. Go early in the morning and you can see the fresh seafood, meats and veggies being unloaded. It’s REALLY fresh – all of the fish, crabs, and even the chickens are still alive when they’re brought into the market. The fruits and veggies are also really fresh and flavorful – you’ll know where to find this section by the strong smell of durian that emanates from within!