Location: Phnom Penh
Rating: 5 out of 5
Seating: Indoor and outdoor
I first discovered Burgershack in Kampot where I lived for a few months. I was on my way to have lunch at a different place when a friend introduced me to one of the owners and he won me over to try a burger at his place. Suffice it to say it was not only very good, but one of the best I've had in Cambodia. So I was thrilled to hear that they had opened a branch in Phnom Penh. And the great news is that as good as their burgers are in Kampot, they are somehow even better in Phnom Penh. I live by the airport, about 50 minutes outside of the center of town. But I come in every Wednesday to conduct some business and stay overnight. I'm usually in my hotel room working late, but come close to midnight I always make sure to stop whatever I'm doing and head down to Burgershack as they have become a tasty addition to my routine.
The burgers at the Shack are great mainly due to the quality of their beef. I haven't yet asked where they get them but it has to be sourced from the outside as they truly remind me of the burgers I had back home in America. They are proper smash burgers and come in many varieties from traditional double bacon cheeseburgers to a spicy black bean veggie burger. And their sides are tasty as well, my favorite being the onion rings as I will always add an order to my burger meal. They are that perfect combination of crispy and sweet that I love. The owners and staff are great as well as they are some of the friendliest people around. They always have time to chat with customers and are mindful of remembering names and greeting everyone warmly with every customer's arrival. They treat their staff really well and the warmth of their relationships really adds to the decor and ambiance of the restaurant, which in of itself is very unique. They are open late so perfect for that last late night meal. If you're even in an earshot of Phnom Penh, the Burger Shack is a must visit.
Cuisine: Italian & Mediterranean
Rating: 2 out of 5
This restaurant is perhaps a good representative of everything that is currently wrong with Sihanoukville. When I first lived in Snooky three years ago, it was a sleepy little town with many good restaurants and Olive, Olive was one such place for foreigners looking for a decent plate of pasta or a good pizza. As just about everything has changed in the city with the migration of the Chinese, expats long for something familiar and good that they can hold onto as everything else around them is in flux. Unfortunately this establishment has not striven to be this type of restaurant, but has rather rested on their laurels, completely regressed in the quality of their food and is now one of the most overpriced and overrated eateries in all of Sihaoukville.
On my last visit I ordered the Tagliatelle with bacon in a cream sauce, a dish that I have ordered many times in the past to my satisfaction. I was horrified this time around as the plate came out in less than five minutes, an obvious indicator that it was made ahead of time and simply heated up in the microwave when ordered. And the fresh vegetables that once adorned this dish had now been replaced by canned, briny vegetables that lowered the overall quality of the dish. Their pizzas are fine still, but much too salty, even more than before and not enough to raise the status of this once good restaurant. I noticed that they had a new Khmer menu that I suppose is meant to cater to expats who bring in their Cambodian significant others. This has to be one of the most ridiculous local menus I have ever seen as there was not a single item priced below $6, with some items being as high as $12. And we're not talking about high end fare but rather simple dishes like fried rice and lok lak. And all this housed in a restaurant that no one seems to take care of as the floors and the general surroundings were absolutely filthy.
Olive, Olive has become complacent, lazy and is at this point just taking advantage of their customers with substandard fare and overpriced meals. Many of us long for a great expat restaurant in Sihanoukville, but I am afraid that this establishment will not be contributing anything anytime soon to solve this problem.
Cambodian Food Scene
Cambodia is surprisingly filled with many great restaurants, from inexpensive to those closer to Western prices. These are just a collection of my favorite places to eat throughout the country.