Cambodians are re-embracing their culinary traditions—dormant for years following the Khmer Rouge regime—at upscale restaurants including Villa Khmer(No. 21B St. 294; 855/9250-0917; lunch for two $20), where you can sample northern dishes such as green-mango salad with smoked fish. But there’s plenty of creativity in Phnom Penh’s kitchens, too. With its all-white interior, the Blue Pumpkin(No. 245 Sisowath Quay; 855-23/998-153; lunch for two $15) is the ideal escape from the midday heat. Highlights include fish amok pasta, subtly spiced steamed fish in tender ravioli doused with a coconut sauce, along with house-made ice creams such as ginger-black-sesame and honey-star-anise. Meanwhile, expat chefs are adding an international dimension to the food scene. Among them is 28-year-old Londoner Caspar von Hofmannsthal, who serves izakaya-inspired dishes (pumpkin-filled gyoza and sushi rolls with tempura prawns) at Yumi(No. 29A St. 288; 855/9216-3903; dinner for two $34), near frenetic Monivong Boulevard. At Tepui at Chinese House(No. 45 Sisowath Quay; 855-23/991-514; dinner for two $25), Venezuelan chef Gisela Salazar Golding draws diplomats and monied residents with South American dishes such as salpicón de mariscos, cilantro-and-chili-infused seafood. The setting alone—a 1903 mansion decorated with Chinese antiques—is worth the visit.
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