Magnolia Restaurant is the best Vietnamese restaurant in Phnom Penh. This is for a number of reasons, that I shall hopefully articulate perfectly.
I’ve written a lot about Vietnamese influences on Cambodian cuisine. And there are a lot, some are basically the same, some such as Num Pang are similar, and some like Loc Lak are arguably just stolen. But overall the foods are different. Cambodia have taken some of the best dishes Vietnam has to offer, but I honestly think you could try Vietnamese food every day and take decades to try everything.
To read about Num Pang click here
Long story short I wanted Vietnamese food.
Where can you find Vietnamese food in Phnom Penh?
Thankfully Vietnamese food is plentiful in Phnom Penh and that goes from top notch restaurants right down to street food vendors. I recently tried two standout Vietnamese dishes on the street which you can read about below.
To read about Bun Bo Hue click here
To read about banh trang neon da lat click here .
Yet events the street food guy, at times I need a bit of fine dining. A cursory look shows there are lots of Vietnamese restaurants in Phnom Penh. Magnolia Vietnamese Restaurant was not the top rated, that went to a place specializing in pho. Pho to me is street food, it is bland and it does not deserve the gentrification that it has received. In my humble opinion anyway.
Magnolia Restaurant – The best Vietnamese Restaurant in Phnom Penh
Intense research, local tips and well the fact that it was 800 meters from my house let me to Magnolia Restaurant. It is almost hard to find, so I will list the address
When you finally do get here you are greeted to a huge courtyard, an old style colonial building, multiple floors and a big bar. These are defiantly a few of my favoritee things. There are lots of well dressed and attentive staff, and the one takeaway I’d like to give here is that this is fine dining, with perfect ambience.
Magnolia Restaurant Menu
Of course they serve pho, but one of the best things about Magnolia restaurant is that there is much much more to the menu. They were a few recommendations, such as bahn xeo, but we entered open minded, and with a view to trying some new Vietnamese dishes.
To read about bahn chao click here .
I’ll throw up some pictures of the menu, but they really cover a huge array of dishes from throughout Vietnam, including many from Hue, arguably the culinary capital of Vietnam. Whatever you are craving Magnolia Restaurant probably have, as well as a few surprises (as we were to find out).
To read about street food in Hue click here
The dessert menu was what really blew me away though. Some true classics (which we will get later), all for $1.50 to $2.00. My Khmer friend said this was “expensive” in comparison to street food. I duly pointed out the ambience.
The drinks at Magnolia Restaurant!
Of course when judging a restaurant, we must discuss the drinks. Soft-drink wise the menu amazed me. Fruits sodas and fresh juices for $2. They had beers on the menu, but alas one from Vietnam. I was briefly tempted by a Beer Lao, before discovering the cocktail list.
To read about Beer Lao click here .
A huge cocktail list, all for $3.50. I tried to order the Magnolia Daiquiri, but alas it was not available. I went for a Long Island Iced Tea. It was different and obviously contained maybe a little bit of Ouzo, or perhaps even absinthe! Overall a pretty good damned cocktail.
So, how as the food?
How is the food at Magnolia Restaurant? Well we started with banh bot loc, before moving on to a Macaroni soup, then banh xeo, snakehead with water mimosa and finally desert, lots of dessert.
We’ve given most of the dishes an article in their own right.
You can read about Banh bot loc here
You can read about Macaroni Soup here
You can read about snakehead with water mimosa here
The mains were all very good and the timing of service was shockingly good. I mean they brought stuff out in the correct order. Sometimes in Cambodia it is all about the little things.
Dessert dessert dessert
Historically I have not been much of a dessert man. I have though been kidnapped in a desert though, although is a whole other story. Deserts in Asia are weird. The isn here included stuff that had leaves, corn, and bunch of stuff you just do not think would go as sweet things, but they work. We avoided stuff that we could “get anywhere” and went for stuff that was apparently harder to get. Namely pomelo skin with beans, palm fruit with coconut cream, and lotus seed with sweet soup. I mean right? Do any of these sound like desserts? They were all really interesting, good interesting rather than bad interesting. Was it a fudge sundae? No, but being the street food guy is about trying new things!
Magnolia Restaurant – the best Vietnamese Restaurant in Phnom Penh?
In my opinion yes, forget your pho joints and head for some real Vietnamese fine dining