Dining at Phnom Penh Noodle feels like sitting down for a meal at good friend’s home. It might have something to do with the converted house the restaurant is located in, but mostly it’s the warm service and soulful cooking that put The Astronomer and me completely at ease.
The Tan family has been dishing up Cambodian-style noodles, porridge, and fried breads in this quiet building on Long Beach’s Cherry Avenue since 1985. These days, the restaurant is mostly run by the proprietors’ cheery brood, a passionate bunch poised to take over the day-to-day operations in the coming years.
The Phnom Penh noodles are a must-order for first-timers and regulars alike. Each bowl is layered with springy rice noodles, tail-on shrimp, porky odds and ends, fried garlic, and fresh cilantro, and can be served ladled with scalding hot soup or “dry” with a bowl of broth on the side.
“Dry” noodle soups pack a greater flavor punch, so I insisted on having my broth served on the side. It included a hefty hunk of stewed, tender pork for gnawing.
The restaurant’s signature dish was wholly spectacular with its extraordinary garlicky hit that permeated every noodly strand. The proteins were plentiful and prepared with care. We spooned on the broth as we saw fit, making sure not to dilute too much of the bowl’s flavor.
To round out our lunch, we passed on the “rice soups” and fried breads, which are popular with the morning crowd, and selected the mekatang, wide rice noodles stir-fried with Chinese broccoli, eggs, shrimp, and beef in an appealingly goopy gravy.
The Astronomer and I haven’t been able to stop talking about Phnom Penh Noodle since our lunch here a few weeks back. The food exceeded our expectations, while the service and ambiance put the restaurant over the top. This place has got it all.
Phnom Penh Noodle Restaurant
1644 Cherry Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90813
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