One thing I love about my travels to Southeast Asia is that compared to our standards here in the US, it is all cheap. And when I say all, I mean ALL; everything from lodging to transportation to food to shopping. Having just come back from what I am coining as “the adventure of a lifetime” traveling through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Hong Kong, I’ve come home with lots of great stories, food adventures and fun items while shopping in the markets in each country.
After one particularly hot and humid day touring (and shopping!) around Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, our Intrepid Travel tour guide Sam gave us a little downtime before reconvening for dinner. Even though I was kind of tired, I wanted to experience the city and decided to take a walk along the beautiful promenade on the banks of the Mekong River. It was such a fun area with great people watching, amazing French colonial architecture and a relaxing atmosphere. What a unique, fun place!
I also stumbled upon a stunning Buddhist monastery where I could have gone crazy taking pictures, but I settled on just a few to make it back to the hotel in time to freshen up before dinner.
Our dinner ended up being just a few doors down from our hotel and was highly recommended by Sam. We were only a few days into our group tour, but so far his restaurant choices seemed to be right on the money (read: clean, sanitary places and no one had gotten sick yet)!! What was also great about Sam was that he really looked out for me every time we were at a restaurant. Before we even sat down, he told the waitstaff that I was vegetarian and didn’t eat any meat and to exclude fish sauce and eggs from my dishes. It was nice to know that I didn’t have to worry about my food while on the trip.
Anyways, earlier in the day Sam kept telling us he was taking us to this great place with an awesome happy hour special. I don’t know…there is something about touring around outside all day in 100 degree heat that the thought of drinking alcohol just did not sound appealing to me. Prior to arriving at the restaurant I decided I was not going to drink because I was so dehydrated as it was and knew that one drink would probably do me in.
Yeah, that notion flew out the door the second we arrived at the restaurant called Kari. Not only was the list of martinis awesome, the best part was their happy hour special. 2 for 1 drinks where one drink costs only $3.50 USD. That means I’m going to be rockin’ 2 fancy martinis for that price. Yes please!!!!
While the martinis were flowing freely at the table, we realized we needed to order some dinner. Now mind you, by this point I had spent one whole week in Vietnam and Cambodia and pretty much had “Asian” cuisine for every lunch and dinner. I was definitely reaching my max. But, it was our first day in Phnom Penh and there wasn’t really a lot else besides Cambodian options at Kari. My choice: the Khmer vegetable curry (Khmer is another way of saying Cambodian) with rice on the side.
I was kind of expecting more of the same that I had been eating for my previous 13 meals, but this one was totally different. It was a very tasty, somewhat thick peanut and coconut based curry with a spicy kick to it. Not only was it very flavorful, but it had crushed, roasted peanuts in the curry which really made it stand out. There were all kinds of great, fresh vegetables including carrots, cauliflower, bell peppers, onions, and asparagus among others. Served along with some white rice, this turned out to be the best meal I had on my entire trip to Cambodia!
Pair that with the most amazing pineapple and basil martini and I was loving this dinner! The martini wasn’t too sweet from the fresh pineapple juice and had just the slightest hint of basil to give it a very refreshing twist. I loved the combo. The watermelon mint martini should at least receive an honorable mention as it was also really good. Definitely worth checking out if you find yourself in Phnom Penh. Heck, even if you don’t eat, the drinks are totally worth the visit!!
All I can say is that $3.50 USD for two martinis is SO my kind of happy hour:)