A warm, steaming ball of glutinous goodness. A crispy, flaky packet of love. Globally, there are as many styles of dumpling as there are version of “Insert Country Name” Idol. (No, really. Look how many countries have their own Idol show.)
America has chicken and dumplings. Italy has ravioli. India has the samosa. Poland has the pierogi. Japan has gyoza. Crab rangoons. Gnocchi. It’s hard to find a cuisine that DOESN’T have a dumpling.
In Cambodia, one street that has become something of a legend when it comes to all things dumpling. Street 136, adjacent to the bus stop near Central Market, has been serving up the most delicious dumplings I have found in the city yet.
But maybe that’s only because there are five dumpling restaurants in a row. Five. How could one go out for dumplings and stop after just one?
Enter the dumpling crawl.
I first heard of the dumpling crawl on Move To Cambodia’s site a few months ago. Since then I have been itching to head to street 136 and try things out for myself.
Our first stop was Feng Yuan Restaurant, closest to Central Market on 136. If you couldn’t guess, everything was in Chinese the second we walked in the door. Even the staff spoke Chinese before Khmer, it took a few minutes of pantomiming to clarify our order!
Not only that, but seaweed swaying in the breeze! On a drying rack, as if it were laundry, they were drying kelp. My friends Jeff and Lily were great models for all my photos. (How much Chinese can you see behind the seaweed? See what I mean?)
Restaurant #3’s dumplings were a bit of a disappointment. The bright side was that they had an entire cup of minced garlic for us to drown our tasteless bites in. Not only that, but each of these places had out-of-this-world chili oil. I don’t know if this is how the oil is made here in Cambodia, but this website has pretty nice photos of the possible process.
Now, restaurant #4, on the other hand, had it’s own unique theme going on. Not only were their dumplings pretty top notch, but they had a complementary picked vegetable platter in addition to the chili oil, minced garlic, and hot peppers. Their dumplings weren’t have bad either.
The worst part? Now, I can’t stop dreaming about dumplings. I thirst for them almost as badly as I do for coffee in the morning. I seek out any opportunity to overwhelm my tastebuds with dumpling goodness.
The moral of the story: Dumplings are a slippery slope of indulgence. Eat with caution. Or, throw off the bowlines and drown yourself on street 136.