Cambodian Food in Philly: The Ultimate Guide

In many cities, you'd be lucky to find one Cambodian restaurant. In Philly, we've got an entire community, and lots of delicious food.


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In many cities, you’d be lucky to find one Cambodian restaurant. It isn’t a cuisine that has made its way into the mainstream just yet. It hasn’t been embraced by restaurant groups, doesn’t have some fast-casual avatar to introduce its flavors to the masses. When it exists at all, it is generally in the form of the neighborhood restaurant, the little mom-and-pop joint. Outside of the U.S. cities with significant Cambodian populations (Tacoma, Southern California, in and around New Orleans), it can be virtually unknown.

But here? We’ve got an entire section of South Philly rich with Cambodian restaurants, and a scattered handful of other places outside of that small area. We have Little Cambodia — in South Philly, along a stretch of 7th Street — full of markets, a church and, when the weather is nice, little hawker stands set up selling papaya salad, sticky rice, grilled meat on sticks and other Cambodian street foods for ridiculously cheap prices. On the weekends, a whole other market pops up in FDR park with produce for sale, papaya salad, rice mounded up in banana leaves and more grills flavoring the air with the smell of skewered meats. Really, what we have is an entire community, and lots of delicious food. So if Cambodian food is what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.

Philly, as always, can provide.

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Good morning philly

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Best Cambodian Restaurants in South Philly

I Heart Cambodia

This place has been around long enough that it has already gone through a change of ownership and a renovation. But since 2016 or so, it has been the go-to spot for those looking for a gentle introduction to Cambodian dishes and flavors. It’s small (just a handful of tables) and bright and BYO (perfect for Philly), and a wide range of dishes — from the simplest summer rolls and French-press coffee to Khmer salads, whole grilled fish with tamarind and ginger, Phnom Penh-style rice noodle soup with pork and shrimp and just about any protein you can think of, with plates of raw vegetables and fermented prahok fish sauce. 2207 South 7th Street

New Phnom Penh

Another anchor restaurant for Little Cambodia, New Phnom Penh is a small, hole-in-the-wall spot that’s easy to recognize because it seems to never be not busy. The menu is a little bit of a mish-mash of Golden Triangle cuisines, but if you’re looking for something really special, ask for the dry noodles, broth on the side, and some dao chau quay (kinda like fried breadsticks, or long donuts) to dip into the broth and sauces. Also, there’s a reason why pretty much every table has a plate or two of the sliced spring rolls. Dipped in the sweet fish sauce, they’re kinda amazing. 2301 South 7th Street

Khmer Sweet Basil

Go for the cold salads — papaya with salted crab, sliced steak with lime and chiles. Go for the soups (though the bitter melon can be challenging if you’re not used to it). Go for the simple skewers of chicken or beef dressed with lime, galangal and lemongrass, and the chicken stuffed with pork and lime, turmeric, mushrooms and rice noodles with a sweet and sour fish sauce for dipping. Go here for pretty much everything from stir-fry to vegetarian dishes, but just keep in mind that the biggest problem with this place is its somewhat…flexible ideas of regular business hours. 1801 South 6th Street

 

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Sweet Chilli Wings . . . . #sophieskitchen #foodie #foodofinstagram #khmer #khmerfood #cambodian #khmerkitchen #instakhmer #khmerfood #philly #instafood #Cambodiafood

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Sophie’s Kitchen

It was a rough day for South Philly when Khmer Kitchen closed in 2018. But two members of the original Khmer Kitchen family turned around and quickly opened a different restaurant on Washington Avenue. That’s Sophie’s Kitchen–a place for heartfelt Cambodian home cooking. This spot has a bi-level dining room (meaning a little more room than the old spot), and a menu that straddles the line between traditional flavors (prahok ktiss, samlaw machu, skewered meats, frog’s legs in curry) and modern tastes (garlic chile wings). The prices are low, but keep in mind that it is cash-only, so be prepared. 522 Washington Avenue

Heng Seng

It’s small. It’s cash only. There’s only street parking. But, on the other hand, it opens at 9am to serve the breakfast crowds congee with fried dough, then serves straight through lunch and an early dinner with beautiful bowls of noodle soup (in several varieties), rice plates, seafood Phnom Penh soup with seafood, and House Special noodles. Pro tip: Get take out if you have a problem eating with strangers because there aren’t many seats and tables get shared when things get busy. 2217 South 7th Street

Boba and Company

It’s basically a family-run food truck with a really nice patio and some of the best food in the neighborhood. Seriously, you come here for the Golden Phoenix wings (deboned chicken wings stuffed with minced chicken, pork, spices, glass noodles, other things), for a rainbow of boba tea and fruit smoothies, grilled meats over sticky rice or semi-modern takes on Cambodian food like fried fish tacos in tamarind sauce. 600 West Moyamensing Avenue

 

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Happy Saturday @khmer_grill will be here to serve you till 12am tonight ! Don’t forget to stop by!

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Best Cambodian Food in Chinatown

Khmer Grill

Essentially a better-outfitted hawker stand inside Chinatown Square, this place has a basic menu of rice and salad plates, customized with various skewered meats. The simple answer here is to go for the sausage first (nicely charred, crisp-skinned, smoky and a little sweet from the mop/marinade), everything else second. If a whole platter seems too much for you (or if you’re in a rush), just go for the sides — a couple skewers of meat and some jasmine rice makes a nice snack at any time of the day. 1016 Race Street, at Chinatown Square 

 

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Had such an exhausting week at work so I’m treating myself to Thai takeout ‍♀️ Cambodian Beef Kroeung stir fry, fried tilapia with sweet and tangy tamarind dipping sauce, and pork spring rolls. Thank god it’s Friday

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Best Cambodian Food in West Philly and the Northeast

Daleng

Daleng offers a whole spread of Southeast Asian foods with food from Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia (plus some Chinese and American dishes), but the Cambodian cuisine here is solid. There are spring rolls and stir-fries, vegetarian dishes and fat noodles, making it an excellent place to check out a variety of flavors and styles without making too much of a commitment. 4653 Walnut Street

Nam Vang

Grilled beef skewers, papaya salad, crispy spring rolls — Nam Vang’s menu is split between Vietnamese and Cambodian classics. But really, people come to this little spot next to the HK Supermarket for the Phnom Penh noodles, a kind of dry pho (noodles and fish sauce together, pork broth on the side) which you can sometimes find at other Cambodian restaurants around town if you ask, but is actually on the menu here. 571 Adams Avenue