Angkor Cambodian Bistro
First things first ... what the hell is Cambodian food??? I am familiar with and love Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, but knew nothing of Cambodian. It seems there are very few Cambodian restaurants in New York City, in part because there are few Cambodian immigrants here; Philadelphia, on the other hand, has a large Cambodian population and a thriving cultural scene, including food. Lo and behold, one of the few NYC Cambodian restaurants is an amazing new comer on the Upper East Side.
ACB's owner Chef Minh is Cambodian, but traveled a long, winding road since he fled the brutal Civil War. He learned to cook in Thailand as a political refugee there. In 1980, he immigrated to the United States and worked in a variety of French restaurants before he opened his first Thai restaurant, almost 25 years ago. He has since sold it and wanted to get back to his Cambodian roots by introducing New Yorkers to this cuisine which has been lacking a presence and an audience. In fact, I would argue they have a marketing problem. Everyone I ask (foodies and regulars alike) can't tell me the nuances of Cambodian food relative to other East Asian cuisine.
The owners of ACB were happy to induct me into this world, and it was amazing. Some highlights include Loc Lac (stir fried beef with vegetables), Amok (fish stuffed with seafood & lemongrass, topped with curry) and my favorite, Kuthiew (a noodle omelette with sautéed shrimp & vegetables), This restaurant is tucked away on a quiet street on the Upper East Side in the old John's Pizza spot! So, instead of your go to Chinese dinner on Sunday, check it out and introduce yourself to the taste and style of Cambodia, whether you plan to travel there or not!