Ok, I Lied…(Review of Kampuchea Noodle Bar)
As the title says, I can’t stop writing and taking photos! Oh why? Why have I succumb to the addiction of BLOGGING? This is bad even though I should stick my nose to my books…and I think I’m getting sick since I got this weird itchy feeling on the back of my throat (uh oh). I just hope I don’t get sick since LSATs are in less than one week! Ok, enough of my dramatic, rambling antics and I’ll just talk about Kampuchea since their food is so very good and I’m skipping everything else I’ve posted pics of on my Flickr photostream for the past week. Are you confused? Yeah, so am I but let’s get to the food!
Since today (Saturday), I don’t have classes and I needed a break from studying, I commuted from my house to the Lower East Side in the rain, to Kampuchea Noodle Bar. Why? Because I heard so many good things about it, from Robyn (on this particular post) to a food-lovin’ friend of mine.
Interestingly enough, their glassware of choice is a handled Mason jar.
As I perused the menu, the items on the menu that grabbed me were sweetbreads and crispy pork belly. My two meat obsessions, if you will, at the moment. So, those were my “appetizers” since they are supposed to be shared hot plates and an order of Num Pang (sandwich) tastings. No, I didn’t eat with anyone since the two aforementioned people are out of the country at the moment (Robyn’s in Italy; Ariel’s somewhere in Russia/Eastern Europe) and it’s more like a spontaneous craving that I want to eat here that I can’t find anyone to eat with me. Oh well…more food for me.
The first of the appetizer that came out was the crispy pork belly. The first thing I noticed was the peppery scent of the coarse ground black pepper that is sprinkled this dish. It tasted very delicious. It’s crisp on the outside and chewy and tender on the inside. The wonderful sweet and sour flavors mingle well together from the apple cider vinegar and honey, and the breath of freshness from the lemon grass. This was a great starter.
Then came my seared sweetbreads. Instead of having shiitake mushrooms, indicated on the menu, it’s replaced with enoki, which in my opinion, changes the flavor of the entire dish. Shiitake has a more meaty, earthy, intense flavor while enoki takes on a lighter, subtler taste. But anyways, these sweetbreads were but very good. It’s salty on it’s own, but balanced it’s off with the broth and vegetables; seared to perfection with a bit of char on the outside and still a bit moist on the inside. It’s topped off with a mound of julienned lemon grass, carrots, pieces of fried garlic and topped off with a basil leaf, to impart a fresh, mint-like flavor. The broth was mushroom based (not too sure what kind) and it’s spicy from the ginger and Thai chile. It’s good but it didn’t make me feel like I had an epiphany.
Then last but not least, my plate of Num Pang Tasting, in other words, a plate of three different sandwiches. The three I ordered were their namesake, the Kampuchea, the grilled skirt steak, and the sweet pulled oxtail. All these sandwiches are very similar to a banh mi (since Cambodia and Vietnam are neighbors). The Kampuchea tasted like the banh mi but better quality and much more expensive than what you get in Chinatown. It has head cheese, pork pâté, carrots, cucumbers, and the usual condiments of a banh mi. The only difference is that I actually tasted something cheesy. Hmm…but it’s tasty though.
The grilled skirt steak was arguably the least striking of the three since it’s just pieces of spicy steak with the banh mi condiments sans the head cheese and pâté.
My favorite of the three was the pulled sweet oxtail. It’s sweet-sour with a touch from the tamarind cooked with the oxtail. Oh, I love that sauce that oxtail was cooked in…
To summarize the sandwiches, it’s a bit pricey but it’s worth it. After eating almost all of those sandwiches (I have so much space in my stomach, ya know?), I felt stuffed. I paid the check and get my butt back home to study. Yep, my life is mostly boring…and I need a darn vacation like Robyn or Ariel are having at the moment.
Kampuchea Noodle Bar
78 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002