What is Cambodian Noodles Nom Banh Chok

Origin of Nom Banh Chok

Cambodian noodles, known as "Nom Banh Chok," are a popular traditional dish in Cambodia. It consists of lightly-fermented rice noodles topped with a curry-based sauce made from fish and coconut milk. 

It is traditionally served with an array of fresh herbs, raw vegetables, and sometimes a side of crispy fried fish or shrimp. Nom Banh Chok is a delicious and refreshing dish commonly enjoyed for breakfast or lunch in Cambodia.

Nom Banh Chok (also spelled Num Banh Chok) literally means "rice noodles with fish" in Khmer. The word "nom" refers to a type of food made from rice flour, while "banh" refers to noodles. The word "Chok" means "fish".

Nom Banh Chok's Ingredients

Nom Banh Chok

Nom Banh Chok is a traditional dish that uses fresh local ingredients

Let's explore the traditional Cambodian method of crafting and serving this delightful noodle dish.

Nom Banh Chok features rice noodles that are skillfully created using fermented rice flour. The fermentation technique lends these noodles a subtle tanginess, harmoniously complemented by the delicate sweetness of the fish curry that is served with this type of noodles.

This fish curry broth of Nom Banh Chok is typically made with catfish or mudfish and is flavored with a variety of spices, including lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, garlic, and coconut milk. 

The Nom Banh Chok is served with a variety of herbs and vegetables, including banana blossom, cucumbers, water lily stems, mint, and basil. The herbs and vegetables add a fresh, crunchy texture to the dish, and also help to balance out the flavors. In traditional preparations, it is common to include boiled freshwater fish or fried fish on top.

When savoring the dish, lime wedges are usually served on the side for squeezing over the dish. Shrimp Paste or Fermented Fish Sauce are condiments that are often served on the side for added flavor. 

How Nom Banh Chok Tastes

Nom Banh Chok fỏ breakfát

Nom Banh Chok is a popular breakfast choice in Cambodia

The taste of Nom Banh Chok can vary depending on the ingredients used and the region it comes from. Generally, it has a flavorful and aromatic curry broth that is slightly tangy, mildly spicy, and savory. 

The rice noodles are tender and have a satisfying chewiness that allows diners to soak up the delightful flavors of the curry sauce. Typically, this dish is garnished with fragrant herbs and lime wedges, which provide a refreshing touch and enhance the overall texture.

The American chef Anthony Bourdain said in the program Parts Unknown: "Nom Banh Chok is one of my favorite Cambodian dishes. It is a simple dish, but it is so flavorful and satisfying. The rice noodles are perfectly cooked, the fish curry is rich and flavorful, and the herbs and vegetables add a nice touch of freshness."

Nom Banh Chok

Nom Banh Chok served at a street eatery

"Nom Banh Chok is a real sleeper hit. It is not the most visually stunning dish, but it is one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. The flavors are so complex and well-balanced, and the textures are perfect. I highly recommend the dish to anyone who loves Southeast Asian food.” - Andrew Zimmern also gave his compliments for this Cambodian noodle soup in Bizarre Foods.  

Overall, Nom Banh Chok is known for its rich and comforting taste that combines sweet, sour, and savory elements. This is also a light and favorite breakfast option among local Cambodians.

To get the full picture, visit our article on Cambodia travel guide!

Where to Eat Nom Banh Chok in Cambodia

Nom Banh Chok is a well-known traditional noodle dish in Cambodia that is readily available in local markets, street food stalls, and certain restaurants throughout the country. In popular tourist spots such as Siem Reap town and Phnom Penh capital, visitors will encounter a variety of choices for this delightful dish.

Nom Banh Chok in Cambodian markets

You can find Nom Banh Chok in Cambodian markets

Nom Banh Chok, whether purchased from a roadside stall or a restaurant, typically ranges in price from $1 to $3. At a high-end restaurant, the cost of a bowl can increase to approximately $5-7.

Local markets like Psar Chas (Old Market) in Siem Reap and Central Market in Phnom Penh are good places to start. Additionally, you can ask for recommendations from locals or hotel staff who can suggest nearby eateries known for serving Nom Banh Chok.

Here we have some recommended restaurants for you:

David's Restaurant: David's Restaurant is a popular spot for handmade noodles in Phnom Penh. The restaurant is located in a small alleyway off Street 13, but it is easy to find. The interior is simple and unadorned, but the food is the star of the show.

  • Address: 13 Preah Ang Eng St. (13), Phnom Penh.

  • Tel: +855 12 351 890

  • Open: 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM

Malis Restaurant: Malis Restaurant is an upscale dining establishment specializing in authentic Cambodian cuisine. Situated in the bustling city of Phnom Penh, the restaurant boasts a stunning ambiance with a picturesque garden and a charming fountain. The extensive menu at Malis Restaurant offers an extensive selection of traditional Cambodian dishes like Nom Banh Chok, Khmer curry, fish amok, and more.

  • Address: 136 Preah Norodom Blvd (41), Phnom Penh 12301.

  • Tel: +855 15 814 888

  • Open: 6:30 AM - 10:30 PM

Malis Restaurant in Phnom Penh

Malis Restaurant in Phnom Penh

Boat Noodle: The prices at Boat Noodle are very reasonable, and the portions are generous. The service is friendly and efficient, and the restaurant is a great place to try some authentic Cambodian noodle soup. 

  • Address: 184E Preah Trasak Paem St. (63), 12301 Phnom Penh.

  • Tel: +855 11 952 120

  • Open: 7:00 AM - 8:00 PM

Park Hyatt Siem Reap The Dining Room: The Dining Room is a fine-dining restaurant located in the Park Hyatt Siem Reap Hotel. The restaurant offers a modern take on classic Cambodian cuisine, as well as international dishes. The dining room is elegant and sophisticated.

  • Address: Sivutha Blvd, Krong Siem Reap 17259.

  • Tel: +855 63 211 234

  • Open: 6:00 AM - 11 AM - 6:30 PM - 10:30 PM

Nom Banh Chok cambodia

Do not miss the taste of Nom Banh Chok when you visit Cambodia

As our culinary adventure through Cambodian noodles - Nom Banh Chok comes to a close, we hope you have experienced the richness of this treasured dish. Nom Banh Chok is a humble morning dish that reflects the vibrant heritage and cultural pride of Cambodia. 

As you venture forth, New Asia Tour encourages you to seek out your satisfied spots to savor Nom Banh Chok during your visit to Cambodia. Whether relished in the bustling markets or at renowned eateries, every bite tells a story of generations past and the love poured into crafting this dish!