A Cambodian Bug Encounter

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I’d known of this Cambodian place for a while but just never got round to trying it out until now. We started with a fairly standard pomelo salad that I thought tasted a bit too weird for my liking. While it had almost Thai flavours of fishy smoked fish, some sweet, some sour, and some chilli, it was fairly toned down in terms of the four standard flavours. There was a herb in it that I didn’t appreciate – it was a bit too earthy and bitter-smelling (though not actually tasting bitter at all), a bit like off garlic.

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The other starter was much better: steamed minced pork paste with preserved fish roe. It was very unusual, like a cross between a warm pate and meatloaf. I scooped spoonfuls of the smokey, fishy meat mixture onto the raw veggies and enjoyed the almost salted egg-like flavour. I never knew that eggplant could be eaten raw and I happily walloped the spongey vegetable with the meat. It went surprisingly well.

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DC saw the writeup on crickets and tarantulas on the wall and immediately wanted to try them. I told him I could probably stomach a cricket or two rather than a hairy spider leg so he ordered this off-menu.┬áMy heart sank when the deep-fried crickets arrived. The fellas were fried to a dark crisp – so much so that their carapaces were almost black, making them look like skinny cockroaches. Ewwww. Feeling slightly queasy, I attempted a few times to spear one with my fork but failed as the little buggers (literally!) were fried so hard and crisp they were impossible to spear. DC and I picked out one that looked least like cockroach and I gingerly ate its thorax and abdomen. Honestly, it didn’t taste like much aside from deep-fried. There was a very slightly sour aftertaste but not much. So there was half a cricket in my stomach and the other half – black and winged – still sitting on my plate. I hid it in my rice and hastily chewed it up, and swallowed. Then I looked up and saw DC calmly, and with great enjoyment, crunching up the rest of the plate of crickets. This is the reason why I’m a wuss and I’m with this very brave man with the appetite for adventure. If he can put up with bug-eating, who knows what other crap he can put up with!

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OK so enough with the wussing out – the last dish was their signature dish of fish amok. I’d tried it in Cambodia before and was expecting something thick yet still fluid, somewhat like Thai green curry. This version was like a non-spicy otak. The flavours were very similar and the fish was moulded in a slightly runny coconut custard. DC and I both liked the delicate flavours and the soft-firm texture of the fish. Thumbs up!

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We didn’t manage to get dessert as the banana sago dish I wanted wasn’t available. Service here is generally very sincere and warm, though slightly dopey and haphazard. Be patient with them and you’ll have a good experience.

Khmer Delight
922 East Coast Road
Tel: 6449 1529

Chronicles of MPT: 132 Mee Poh Kueh Teow Mee

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My obsession with mee pok tah continues. I persuaded Eeyore to finally try the famous 132 Mee Poh Kueh Teow Mee along East Coast Road (from $3). Not wanting to be left out, Shinta and KK came along too. It was 12 noon on a Sunday and the wait wasn’t very long, only about 10 minutes. I think the MPT craze comes and goes when the newspapers write about them.

Eeyore and I made the fatal mistake of asking for extra chilli. The chilli overwhelmed the noodles, making them far too one-dimensional. This style was the chilli sauce and lard only type, no vinegar or other condiments. I’d imagine (heaven forbid!) a touch of ketchup would have helped it along. The noodles weren’t anything special, even slightly on the soft side.

Ingredients-wise, we weren’t impressed by the fishballs (KK: too much flour, too soft) nor the prawns. The prawns tasted fine, but the tails broke off in the shell. That’s my pet peeve and shows that the prawns aren’t very fresh. A pity. Shinta liked it all a lot though. He had no quibbles with it and thought it was one of the best MPT of this style he’d had.

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What really worked for me was the soup. It’s fresh and full of flavour, very pleasing and soothing. Nice.

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I wasn’t expecting to get good teh bing (iced milky tea, $1) here but this place gave me a pleasant surprise. It was smooth and milky yet with great tea flavour.

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While waiting for their noodles, Shinta and KK ate three of these mackeral otah between them. It was pretty good with chunky fish and spicy, coconutty, smooth custard. Good stuff.

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132 Mee Poh Kueh Teow Mee
53 Upper East Coast Road (Opp the DBS and Shell station)