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I like to tell people back home in the USA that Phnom Penh isn't exactly a hardship post. "Seriously," I say. "We have French bistros. We have artisan flat crust pizza. You can buy five different flavors of Pop-tart. We have organic grocery stores. More than one. "
"No waaaayyyy," they say. But I'm right. And here's Naturae, an organic grocery store with a mostly-raw restaurant attached to it. This kind of place wouldn't bat an eye in the most dangerously hipster-infested bits of San Francisco, and here it is, slap-dab in the middle of Phnom Penh. I guess it'd be offensive if I didn't find it comforting.
The menu is mostly raw and revolves around hippie chow like cold soups, salads, sandwiches, and a variety of smoothies and juices, along with a couple of outliers.
Perhaps most significantly, you can get smoked salmon here, which is always nice when I'm suffering pink fish withdrawal.
This is chilled asaparagus soup with gobs of cream, and not unexpectedly, it's pretty delicious.
I had the frisee salad with scallop and hard parmesan cheese. Well, it did come with a couple of bite sized scallop morsels, though I guess I was expecting a bit much for a salad served in Phnom Penh.
Frisee is a rather unfortunate choice when paired with scallops, mainly because it's bitter and chewy - I'd choose a leafier and less in-your-face green for the job. I say a little prayer every day for the availability of hard parmesan in the wilds of Cambodia. Oh, life is hard these days. (Speaking of: First World Problems?)
We also shared the "Away to Norway," a rather creatively named plate of smoked salmon with dijon potato salad. It's a nice combination, though that's a lot of potato in one location - admittedly, I never really got potatoes. I know, I'm going to hell.
I haven't perused the organic grocery store bit of the shop, mainly because I'm 1. poor and 2. poor, but I imagine they will have things like sprouted wheat and interesting flavors of jam if you're the kind of person who needs that stuff in your life.
I could insert commentary on how, well, isn't it a bit odd that we have organic grocery raw-bars in Cambodia these days, when it's technically an impoverished third world nation where a lot of people don't even get enough non-organic food to eat, never mind sprouted wheat vellum or whatever, and maybe this is all a bit....decadent?
Nah, it's a sign of economic growth. That's my story.
"We even have smoked salmon," I tell My Fellow Americans, about Phnom Penh. "We have andouille sausages, and a Chilis knock-off restaurant, and salad bars, and pretentious cheeses that smell funny."