BY: NICOLETTE NORRIS
No one can celebrate Cambodian New Year better than the city of Long Beach, which has the largest Cambodian population outside of Cambodia. Cambodia Town stretches down Anaheim Street from Atlantic Avenue to Junipero Street, and along this street more than a dozen restaurants cater to the Cambodian community. With so much to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which one try, but we’ve compiled some of the best to make it easier for you.
Sophy’s Thai and Cambodian Cuisine, 3240 E. Pacific Coast Highway
This place upon walking in had a very homely feel to it; like stepping into a kitchen. Though it was just me occupying a booth that outsized me, I made myself comfortable, and the waiter didn’t even make fun of my horrible enunciation of my dish: Somlaw Machu Kreung (and I know that I completely butchered it). This Cambodian beef soup is a popular favorite at this restaurant, and I ordered it with rice on the side, as recommended. I never really thought that I was much of a soup person, but I was really impressed with this one! I could taste the immense amount of flavor as I ate my soup and packed the remainder away, not wanting to waste one drop (and just so you know, it tasted just as good the next day. And the next day).
Monorom Cambodian Cuisine, 2150 E Anaheim Street
The waiter greeted me very warmly as soon as I entered the door, which was the first thing that caught my attention. Here, it felt like a casual mix between a traditional kitchen (like the previous restaurant) and a modern restaurant. The popular dish that many recommended was the Chicken Curry, but on my college-student budget, I went for something a little more basic this time around: the beef sandwich. While it was very delicious and filling, all I could think about was Lee’s Sandwiches. Perhaps it was because it had a very similar taste, look and feel, since the sandwich was served on a French baguette. I’ll be back to try the curry.
Phnom Penh Noodle Shack, 1644 Cherry Avenue
As I was approaching the restaurant, I almost drove past it because it blended in with the houses on the street. In my defense, it was early. This place opens at 7 a.m., six days a week, so those early birds like myself can delight themselves in a nice, cultural breakfast outside of the norm. I ordered the Phnom Penh Noodle, as the name suggests. I peaked at the tables next to me that also had this “Cambodian pho” on the table. I could have eaten the whole thing if I wasn’t rushing out the door.