Monday, September 8, 2008

Fun Playing With Cambodian Food Near Pittsburgh, PA

17 Labor Days ago, Bob and I met at the Western Pennsylvania Mensa Regional Gathering. We have returned to Pittsburgh almost every year since. I was not about to let my injured shoulder stop us this year, so off we went! And we had some interesting company at the Radisson Hotel Greentree - Senator and Mrs. John McCain, Governer Sarah Palin, and their orchestra of Secret Service. It was an interesting experience. Senator McCain stopped to greet our group each time he entered or exited the building (though the doors right by our meeting area) and he was most cordial the two times I saw him. Even though I plan to vote for the other guy, I'm glad I was present for this bit of history.

Our group had been at this hotel 2 years ago, and at that time, Bob and I had dined at what a fairly new restaurant a very short drive from the hotel, Angkor Restaurant. The chef-owner is Cambodian, and his wife is Thai - therefore, the restaurant serves both cuisines. I remembered that the room was too empty, but the food pretty good. Since I love Cambodian food, and since this place was but a stone's throw from the hotel, I anticipated that we might eat there more than one time over the long weekend.

Though I had sought out dining companions, it seemed like almost everyone else had other plans. Our friend Betsy agreed to join us - so it was just the three of us Saturday night. As I had remembered - the place was very pretty, but way too empty for a Saturday night. I wanted to take some photos of the decor, but my ailing right shoulder would not allow me to raise and steady the camera. Darn.

I started with the Lemongrass Tea, which was light and fragrant.

We decided to share one appetizer, Na-Taings.

House Made Rice Cakes with Coconut Milk-Pork Dip

The symphony of flavor that is Cambodian food got off to a rousing start!

Moo Bompong

Tofu, Pork and Dried Shrimp, Roasted Garlic, Tamarind, Coconut Milk, Egg, Flowering Chives, Bean Sprouts over Puffed Rice Noodles. The tamarind lent an acidic tone to this dish, and the main ingredients had unusual textures. We enjoyed it, but I don't know if I'd order it again.

The garnishes were simply fabulous.

Moarn Chha Krueng

Betsy selected this dish, and the choice of chicken to accompany the "Hot & Spicy" Lemongrass Sauce with Onions, Green Pepper, Mushroom, Broccoli, Bambo Shoots and Waterchestnuts. I put "Hot & Spicy" in quotes because none of the food was what I would consider hot and spicy. Though it all tasted marvelous, the heat was definitely adjusted to the local Western palate.

Another beautiful garnish.

Panang with Beef

Bob opted for a Thai selection that mixes beef with peas, green and red peppers, and kaffir lime leaves in coconut curry sauce. This was also very well prepared and tasty.

After telling everyone we saw about our wonderful dinner, we made it known that we could be persuaded to return to Angkor on Sunday night. This time, we had three dining companions in addition to Betsy, who also wanted to try more! And even better - the house got pretty packed; a very good sign given how empty they were the night before and how bad the economy is.

I did not enjoy the iced Chrysanthemum tea as much as I'd liked the Lemongrass Tea, but Bob's choice was most refreshing and different:

Young Coconut With Juice

We began our meal with Na-Taings, which I didn't photograph again. We also shared an order of Crispy Baby Calamari with Black Pepper Lemon Sauce:

The squid was ok - but the dish was worth the price just to enjoy the freshly made, succulent dipping sauce.

Chicken Lemongrass Skewers

Bob and I did not taste the chicken - as two of our dining companions were "low carbing" - we left all of the meat on this plate for them. We did taste the sauce and the pickled vegetables, which were delicious!

House Salad

We shared this delightful salad of lettuce, bean sprouts, basil, mint and crushed peanuts, with lemon dressing. We also shared all of the entrees, which began appearing immediately.

Moarn Chha Kyei

Shrimp with Shredded Vegetables, Pineapple, and Ginger Root in Brown Ginger Sauce. I enjoyed my shrimp as well as the sauce. The interplay between the ginger and the pineapple was especially interesting.

Red Curry Sauce with Vegetables and Chicken

The sauteed Asian eggplant was the star of this dish, which also had broccoli, bell peppers, green beans, potatoes, onions, and bamboo shoots in coconut milk gravy.

Fried Fish Filet and Vegetables in Chef's Special Sauce

The title kind of says it all - a very pleasant dish.

Crunchy Green Bean (Prik King)

This Thai dish was loaded with garlic-chili flavor and crisp green beans.

Fried fish and green beans on rice.

Moarn Chha Krueng

Betsy had loved this sauce so much the previous evening that she wanted it again! This time, we ordered it with tofu, which actually was tastier than the chicken had been the night before.

Kuteiv Chha (Phnom Pehn)

Rice Noodles with Beef, Egg, Vegetables and Phnom Pehn Sauce. Delicious! The symphony of flavors ended with a magnificent crescendo!

It was more fun playing with a larger number of playmates, because we got to taste more dishes. Be aware, portions are smaller than those in your average Chinese restaurant, so you may need to order multiple portions of a dish for a large group, and you will want to order one entree per diner. If you follow that caveat, you will almost certainly enjoy playing with the exotic, if not authentically spicy, flavors of Cambodia and Thailand at Angkor. And I am sure that a "regular" customer can persuade the chef to turn up the heat.


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  2. the tofu looks so delish!

    mapo tofu is really one of the simplest dishes to make anywhere in the world so long as you can get hold of tofu and sauce package.

    Here I bought a sauce pack so as to skip all the seasonings! and i will try this friday after work.