Southeast Asian cuisine is famous for the diversity and also the “weird and unique”. There are many dishes which look so weird that you do not dare to touch and try. But with just a little courage to try these Southeast Asian foods, you will find them delicious and nutritious as well! Let’s now explore some weird dishes below.
1. Fried Tarantulas Spiders (Campuchia)
You may well be tempted to think that all the restaurants lining along the Pub Street in Siem Reap providing table-top Khmer barbecues with snake, frog and crocodile can be enough for you to tick that “strange Cambodian food” box. Not so. You need street stalls, or at least dishes which normally the most inquisitive diner would think twice about eating, or better still both to experience the real McCoy. But given much of the scant regard for food hygiene in Asia, how can you get your street food fix without running the risk of at least within spitting distance of a toilet or spending much of your holiday confined to your room?
2. For the cautious
If you are on a whistle-stop tour or you have just arrived and have not yet had an opportunity to fully adjust to Cambodian exotic and unique cuisine, it does not mean you should forego street-style food entirely. You can find safe and enjoyable takes on authentic cuisine but without the risk of ingesting unexpected pathogens in some excellent restaurants.
Situated at the north end of Wat Bo Road in a traditional wooden house in a typical neighborhood street one block back from the Siem Reap River, Marum Restaurant serves not only vegetarian but also carnivorous dishes with the prices starting from $3.25. Try Khmer dishes such as: seafood and coconut rice cakes, steamed dim sum, taro and chive dumplings and for the more daring – red tree ant fritters with prahok (fermented fish sauce).
Another excellent choice for sampling some real Khmer delicacies, which is well suited to the more budget-minded traveler with dishes starting at just $1 is Green Star Restaurant located on the other side of town near the Wat Damnak Pagoda. A perennial favorite is their “Pot ling” or spicy fried sweet corn kernels, or you could try stir-fried eel with lemongrass and chili if you are feeling brave enough. However, their famous grilled frog is the Top scorer on the scary food stakes.
3. For the strong of stomach
Right in the centre of Siem Reap’s attractive old town, Psar Chas or Old Market is the best place to go if you have a cast iron constitution and fancy trying something a bit more adventurous. You will test the strongest of stomachs when eating here. Walking far inside this market, you can easily find trays of different fried insects and on a good day the odd pyramid of blackened tarantulas.
However, facing other challenges might put you off eating there – after all, this is a real working market. Be prepared for crabs scuttling sideways across the floor and the sights and the strong odors of live catfish slapping around on giant trestles. You will have meals in the shadow of animals’ entrails and likely be observed by a freshly severed pig’s head.
4. For the intrepid adventurer
Amongst the noodles and fried rice are giant woks of stir-fried silk worms, water beetles and crickets. Locals smack their lips as they dig into fertilized duck eggs – soft-boiled and stewed cows’ intestines – and feast on a wide variety of the humble kebab – seasoned pork, grilled unlaid eggs, removed from a chicken’s carcass and barbecued frog (with or without frog spawn stuffing) for your dining delight.
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