Thursday, April 10, 2008

Khmer Paratha and Singapore Food

For dinner yesterday, I bought couple of banana Parathas or "Prata" as we lazy Singaporeans spell it. Yes, Cambodia has its own version of the paratha: it's made with prata (I gave up trying to spell it properly), egg, condensed milk and bananas and it's sold by a mobile hawker. The man I buy from is usually in front of Molly Malone's in the old market area. He is there only in the evenings. The prata is cut up into bite-sized pieces, then stuck into a plastic bag with a paper base and you eat it with a long satay (skewered meat) stick.

The prata costs USD1 (it was only 3000 riels 2 weeks ago...damn this inflation. I have been thinking of writing about the topic for a while now. Inflation here is a crazy 11 per cent). It's really expensive. I remember eating plain pratas at the prata shop near the university in Singapore for only SGD0.40 (about USD0.30 at current exchange rates). It was SGD0.60 when I left 2 years ago, although the price has probably gone up now. You can also get pratas in the Makmak's Corner in Phnom Penh (USD1.20 with egg) and a plate of Mee Goreng (fried noodles) for USD2.50 (it's only SGD2.50 back home!). Teh Tarik is USD0.80!

So although Malaysian and Singapore food is available in Cambodia, I seldom eat it, because it's so expensive (Westerners though, rave that the pratas here are "true bargains") and it usually can't compare to the real thing back home. I remember being so disappointed at my USD2.50 bowl of prawn noodles at Sophia's Kitchen, a Malaysian run restaurant. The only one I like is Klang Boy, around the Central Market in Phnom Penh. It's run by a Malaysian man and although he is famous for his bakuteh (pork ribs soup), I actually prefer the wanton mee. The best on in Cambodia (and some say Batam...hahaha!)

A motodop told me Khmer pratas were introduced to this country only 3 years ago. Everyone knows it's Indian food but I wonder how many locals can afford to eat it. Actually, I have only seen foreigners buying the food.

The prata man asked me about "New Zealong" yesterday when we were talking about Singapore. My Khmer is only so-so, so I didn't understand him. It was only when he said, "Like Hun Sen," that I realised he was asking me about Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore's Prime Minister!

Khmers like to show off that they know something about your country. It is a useful trick to pull with tourists. You hear the little child book-sellers on the streets reciting, "The capital of Australia is Canberra, the population is 20 million..." to Aussie tourists, who are usually so impressed, they slow down and listen to the little hustlers (and maybe even buy a book).


binky said...

I went to Sophias today and got the Laksi, like everything on the menu it was 3$. It was absolutely revolting I couldnt finish it, so go here if you like overpriced slop. The Malaysian place Bites near Psar Russei seems much better.

Diana Saw said...

Haha, yes! So the prices have gone up to USD3 now! I now live in Siem Reap and there is a Malaysian Indian place called Walla Walla on Sivatha Boulevard and also one at the old market area called Hong Kong Restaurant, but is actually run by a Malaysian. I tried the wonton mee which was terrible, so never went back!

My friends are coming on Thursday and all I asked them for was food! Chwee kueh, chicken rice, laksa...frozen also never mind!

Thanks for telling me about Bites--must go check it out next time I'm in Phnom Penh :)

Diana Saw said...
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