When it comes to Cambodian food, you are either in the mindset of it being subtly spiced, or the other way of looking at it as being very bland.
When you compare it to Thai or Vietnamese food, it is pretty bland, but years of hardship, sometimes taste goes out of the window and necessity comes in. Just think of English food from the 40’s onwards.
But as a cuisine on its own, I’d go for the former. You will not get the kick of heat as you do from Thai food, nor the burst of freshness you get from a Vietnamese meal with all their fresh herbs. What you will get is a mildly spiced well cooked food using the best of all things local in Cambodia.
Lemongrass was pretty heaving on this Friday night, even though it is down a non descript road near to Camden Town. It has been around a while as the Time Out stickers on the front window date back to the late 90’s. The chef and owners are Cambodian, but the wait staff were from Eastern Europe. Obviously family members do not work on Friday nights.
The menu has no pan Asian dishes on it, these are all what you would expect to find on a menu in Phnom Penh.
We started the evening off with the mixed starters for 4, which came on 2 plates, and would have been enough for 8. Apart form the soggy prawn toasts all was pretty fantastic, especially the breaded prawns. Very nice.
My main of Phnom Penh Chicken tasted a little similar to the Sweet Chilli Chicken, except for the pineapple. Both were cooked very well, and with a variation or two of sauces I’d say most of the food was pretty similar. But that is the same of food in Indian restaurants as well, and with one chef in the kitchen who can blame him.
All in all for being the only Cambodian restaurant in London it has kept to its principles and only serves authentic Cambodian food, but at a premium. It was not as cheap as I would expect it to be. But it you want something a little different it is worth the extra.