PHLReview

I Heart Cambodia image
8.2

I Heart Cambodia

Cambodian

South Philly

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsCheap EatsLunchClassic EstablishmentImpressing Out of Towners

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In a town that has more Cambodian restaurants than Mariah Carey has hits, I Heart Cambodia is one of the best. They serve up a great spread of shareable Khmer dishes, but this is also a supreme group dinner spot. Swing by, order off the massive menu, and pass around bowls of noodle soups and bright papaya salads at one of the many communal tables that always seem to be available.

I Heart Cambodia image

If you come here right after they open at 9am, they have a starter pack for your morning routine with French press coffee, avocado and durian shakes, and big streetside windows. Bring a group of your friends and you’ll be able to pull up to any of the open tables in the dining room (except maybe on a Friday night when it gets busy). Although outside you may see the streets buzzing with some sidewalk grills and a crowd of people going from shop to shop, inside the atmosphere is relaxed and easygoing. The only frantic tempo you’ll feel is how fast the food comes out after you order it. 

The mains here are generally big enough that you could get full from almost any of them on their own. But everything is so good you should go for a full spread of shrimp summer rolls in chewy rice paper wrapper, papaya salad, a noodle soup, and the tilapia and ginger dish. We’ve had fish many ways in this town—fish and chips, in a cheesesteak, and in tacos—but this blend of lightly breaded fish and peppery ginger is one that’s surprising and something we can’t stop thinking about. 

I Heart Cambodia image

When you want some of the best pizza in town, you’ll have to wait in a line outside of Pizza Shackamaxon. Same goes for one of the best cheesesteaks at Jim’s. You’ll even have to play reservation roulette to experience Zahav, one of the top restaurants in the city. At I Heart Cambodia, though, you can have some of the best Cambodian food in Philly by just walking right in. And just like how we turn on Mariah when we can't think of what to listen to, we always turn to I Heart Cambodia when we want to go somewhere on a random weeknight that we know will never let us down.

Food Rundown

I Heart Cambodia image

Papaya Salad

This salad has strips of green papaya, tomato, and marinated baby crab all tossed in a sweet and tangy fish sauce. And because of its lightness and sweetness, it’s a must-order appetizer.

Summer Rolls

The bright clear sleeve of jumbo shrimp and leafy greens comes with a tangy peanut dipping sauce. The skin is satisfyingly chewy and they’re good to have for the table, especially since they can act as a cool down bite if you order anything with an extra spicy kick to it.
I Heart Cambodia image

Rice Noodle Soup With Chicken

You’ll find green neem tree buds, tender chicken drumsticks, and clear rice noodles all swimming in this brothy bowl. The blend is comforting, full of tender chunks of meat, and it could replace our favorite comforter with how soothed we feel after downing a bowl.
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Beef Lok Lak

These sweet cubes of beef are perfectly balanced by the salty soy and fish sauce that will linger in your mind long into the night. The dish also comes with a warm bowl of white rice that you should drench with the meat and sauce, or wrap it all up in the lettuce to make the whole thing satisfyingly crunchy.

Fish With Ginger

Some shareable dishes are so good that you just straight up don’t want to share them. This is one of them. Between the soft crackle of the skin and the flaky white fish, this is the entree to prioritize here. Plus, the strips of ginger give each bite a tart and peppery boost.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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