It’s a very live-able city.
Food is cheap. And there is a variety to it. Modern conveniences are there. Rent is affordable. Job opportunities abound if you know where to look. Spas offer amazingly cheap rates. The best, fresh coconut costs merely 50 cents. People I have come across are interesting. And if you are a heterosexual young male, gender ratio among expats definitely favors you. The only down side is that there is a lack of green space, which is made up for by the river front view.
My trip to Phnom Penh was long due. I hadn’t been out of Yangon for already three months. If you count only trips you take for yourself – and not for business, social obligations or relationships – it was since March that I hadn’t taken a break for myself. This was a much needed reset. I had thought I was going out of my mind.
My very first meal in Cambodia was ironically a semi-Japanese place, a quick five minutes away from my hotel near the Russian Market, chosen by my very thoughtful college buddy John who drove all the way to the southern tip of the city from his office up north so that I wouldn’t need to get around on a tuk tuk.
“Cozy” is one of those words you use when you try to be sanguine about some unfortunate situation, much like the usage of the term “interesting.” If you are like most guys, you would rather disappear into thin air than be described as “nice” or “sweet” by a girl they fancy.
But when I think of this place, “cozy” is the word I use in the most genuine and blissful way. I felt cozy. And comfortable. In the most relaxed and carefree way. Without the need to worry about running into anyone or be engaged in any obligatory small talk. Generally, people, noises and spot lights are what I crave, but not when I am in Phnom Penh. Anonymity is calming.
Just when I thought the ambiance couldn’t get any better, I studied the menu while waiting for John and Wes, sipping my passion fruit mint shake, listening to their tracks and watching staff get busy with noodles in the open kitchen in their “Noodle me please…” shirts.
And look! They have only two items as the main fare. The beautiful thing about this menu is that there is nothing to be studied. You make so many decisions and choices every day, it’s sometimes best to not have that luxury. This could be an urban legend but Obama is said to have the same shirts so as not to waste any of his presidential brain space on fashion every morning. Decision fatigue, some people say.
Which is why this noodle place is extra charming. You show up hungry and they feed you. That’s the best kind of menu, and a wonderful break from the many new presumptuously low quality dining establishments in Yangon.
Sesame Noodle Bar
Street 460, between 135 and 155
Toul Tom Poung