Describing this place as a stereotypical Khmer beer garden is a little pointless; those people who have been to a Khmer beer garden know what one is, those who have never been, well, they almost defy description, almost.
Dining in such places, and Good Dreams here is no exception, is an alfresco affair. In fact, during the day this particular establishment is a combination car park and car washing business.
The tables are folding tin tables, with a token attempt of a red and white chequered tablecloth tossed over them, the chairs are bendy blue plastic and the restaurant has enough fairy lights strung around for a 747 to make an emergency landing. By 20:00 there will be enough chicken bones and food scraps on the floor to keep the local rat, cat and dog population fed for a week.
Yes, this is all your standard decor for a Khmer beer garden restaurant. Also standard for this sort of place, is the total lack of foreigners, I have never seen another white face in there while I have been dining.
The food is traditional [cheap] Khmer; rice, noodles, suspicious looking bits of meat, thin soups, fried and BBQ’d things.
As a table we shared; chicken fried rice, deep fried battered prawns, fried noodles with pork and a roast chicken.
The chicken fried rice was a nice surprise, unlike most Khmer restaurants the chicken was off the bone, so you did not have to chew your way around tiny shards of bone just to get to the microscopic piece of meat attached to it; unfortunately, they did decorate it with a sprinkling of crushed eggshell on top, a practice which most other restaurants seem to have stopped.
The shrimp were excellent, large fleshy shrimp in a heavy, dark, crispy batter, salt and pepper in fresh lime to dip them in, delicious.
The noodles were those pale wide egg noodles, small pieces of pork, broccoli and spring onion missed in, with a thick, but mild, chilli dipping sauce on the side.
The roast chicken, ah yes, defiantly the nadir of the food. A whole roast chicken, and of course, when I say whole, I mean whole; head, beak, legs, claws, gullet and gizzard. The entire carcase had been lovingly carved by a blind lunatic armed with a very blunt axe. A plate full of bone shards, meat and gristle, with the chicken?s baked head and popped eyeballs staring up at you. Tough and stringy the meat was hard work to find and even harder to digest. Still, three out of four is not bad for random in Cambodia.
Washing all of this down was can after can after can of US$1 Tiger Beer, four guys, a Friday evening, I am sure that you can imagine the tableau.
The bill for the food was about US$8:50, the overall bill was somewhere around US$30 – oops.
The main courses on the menu range from 5,000r US$1.25) to 12,000r (US$3)
The usual range of soft drinks are also available, as well as Johnny Walker whiskey, which was being consumed by the bottle by the nice, charming, quiet group of off-duty armed police officers sat next to us.
Dining in such places is very different to dining in more tourist targeted Khmer restaurants. The other patrons here are not westerners, tourists, backpackers and Khmer NGO employees showing their foreign counterparts around town. You often get Khmer families here, husbands with their wive’s and children, guys grabbing a bite to eat before hitting the Karaoke bars and police officers between shifts or eating before going off to their night jobs.
One small word of warning though before departing. Those imbibing heavily of any liquid refreshment may find the relief facilities somewhat primitive.
The urinals were spaced at Khmer male widths apart, meaning that those gourmands of us with a rotund, trencherman, physique found ourselves having to squeeze between the chipboard dividers, somewhat of a challenge after 10 cans of Tiger beer.
Unfortunately, I am unable to comment of the state of facilities for ladies as we had none present, but I would guess non flushing traditional squat toilets so please let me know should any females be brave enough to venture into a Khmer beer garden restaurants bathroom.
North-side of street 214, between streets 63 and 51.
Queries, comments, suggestions and gastroenterological concerns to