Sekong by Night Brings Cambodian Cuisine to Phoenix

Keep your head up or you'll completely miss the almost-hidden turn from Indian School Road into the parking lot of Sekong by Night, Phoenix's first Cambodian restaurant (and probably the only one in the state of Arizona). And don't be confused by that wall mural of a flamenco-dancing couple you'll encounter before you walk into this authentic Khmer dining experience.

You know you're not in Seville anymore when you spot the Southeast Asian décor of this tiny place. It's filled with wooden-slat benches neatly lined up against deep burgundy walls dotted with the occasional framed image of graceful Khmer dancers, with a long table intersecting its center. Near the entrance, there's a dais featuring a roneat, a type of Khmer xylophone made of pieces of bamboo, and an ornate gilded dance headdress traditionally associated with Cambodia's centuries-old royal court.

Sekong by Night's unassuming location and minimalist décor belie the restaurant's true-to-its-roots Khmer food offerings. Sandwiched between Vietnam and Thailand, Cambodia borrows from both cultures when it comes to food. Actually, I'm told it was the Khmers who exported their existing culture to Thailand after the Thais invaded what's now Cambodia 500 years ago, which accounts for the great cultural similarities between the two countries. Add on top a sprinkling of French, Indian, and Chinese influences. That explains the bottles of sriracha (classic Thai hot sauce) and hoisin (a dark Chinese dipping sauce), as well as the small bowls of teuk trei (the Cambodian version of mandatory fermented fish sauce that accompanies most dishes in Southeast Asia), on the tables.

A taste of Cambodia -- in Central Phoenix.
Jackie Mercandetti
A taste of Cambodia -- in Central Phoenix.

Location Info

Map

Sekong By Night

1312 E. Indian School Road
Phoenix, AZ 85014

Category: Restaurant > Cambodian

Region: Central Phoenix

Details

Sekong by Night
1312 East Indian School Road
480-238-0238
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday

Loat cha: $6
Cambodian Volcano Grill (for 4): $25
Pâté and pork sandwich: $3
Baynchaiv crepes: $6

Related Stories

More About

According to its menu, Sekong (apparently named after a tributary of the Mekong River on Cambodia's border with Laos) is devoted to delivering healthful food easily found in the open-air markets and on the carts of street vendors all over Cambodia. That includes soups, a variety of rice and noodle dishes, barbecued meats and seafood, fresh vegetable salads, grilled corn, and the supreme French contribution to Khmer culture, the baguette sandwich.

So maybe you won't find baskets of fried grasshoppers, or skewers of barbecued snake and grilled eggs (yes, eggs on skewers, the innards of which have been blown out, spiced up and funneled back into their shells, then speared and grilled), or those gigantic fresh water pill-bug-like creatures that are considered real Khmer delicacies, here at Sekong. What you will find is generous portions of tasty Khmer classics served on elegant green dishes mimicking bamboo leaves for a very reasonable price. Unfortunately, Sekong, as yet, has no beer and wine license, so for those jonesing for an Angkor or Tiger beer to accompany their meal, you're out of luck for now. But if the city of Phoenix ever approves the restaurant's use of an already existing outdoor barbecue grill, I've been told there will be even more grilled dishes added to the menu.

Katheaw, a noodle soup that's Cambodian kin to Vietnamese pho, heads the current lineup. On different occasions, I tried both the chicken noodle soup with sliced chicken breast and chunks of chicken meatballs (katheaw saik morn) and the mi keaw noodle, pork dumpling, and shrimp soup. Either could easily have made a meal, perhaps paired with a fresh spring roll stuffed with shrimp or fried egg roll, priced at $2 and $1 each, respectively. The broths of both Sekong dishes differ from pho in that they are lighter and considerably less salty than their Vietnamese counterpart. You can amp up their spice or salt quotient with a squirt of sriracha and hoisin to taste. My only regret was that there weren't enough fresh greens accompanying the soups for me. Besides cilantro, green onions, and mint, I would have loved to see some Thai basil thrown into the mix.

However, my longing for authenticity was slaked by a mound of Sekong's shredded green papaya and carrot salad (bok lahong). Awash in a tangy sweet/sour dressing and topped with fermented, in-shell freshwater crab, it was the real deal.

My dining companions voted the loat cha their pick of the litter. Loat cha is a rice noodle and beef combo, stir-fried with bean sprouts and scallion slivers and enveloped in a perfectly seasoned, slightly sweet sauce redolent with such familiar Southeast Asian flavoring ingredients as ginger, garlic, and lemongrass. Almost translucent, the fat "glass" noodles featured in the dish are, quite simply, addictive. Though my personal pick for fave was the baynchaiv crêpe, the Khmer version of Vietnam's banh xeo, a pancake-like concoction so beloved that entire restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City are dedicated to serving it in unending combinations. Two hefty crêpes to an order, baynchaiv are made from a rice flour and turmeric batter (thus the bright yellow tinge), cooked until lacy, then folded over a filling of crunchy bean sprouts, shrimp, ground pork with a sweet and sour sauce, and onions. Roll up a slab of the crêpe inside a fresh lettuce leaf after adding some cilantro and cucumber slices, and dip the whole thing in the mild fish sauce that comes with — it doesn't get much better than this, though, again more and different greens, like tiá tô (Vietnamese perilla), a strongly aromatic, fuzzy green and purple leaf, would have elevated this dish to near nirvana for me, a hardcore greens freak. But even I understand the essential futility of trying to raise exotic tropical herbs in the godforsaken desert on a regular basis.

1
 
2
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
8 comments
lishuzheng
lishuzheng

Finally (48 hours) time limit to buy.

LV Muffler $ 5.99LV Bags $ 19.9 LV Wallet $ 6.55Armani Glasses $ 5.99LV Belt $ 6.9

Buy addresses---- tntn.usTips (48 hours after the special product is invalid)

/'/.../..../...../ˉ\........('(...′...′....ˉ~ /').........\.................'../..........\................../............\..............(.......

Azfooddudes
Azfooddudes

Hello if you enjoyed this review come take a look at our new review site on facebook. AZFoodDudes. We've just started up and would love your support so take a look and give us a like. We review new restaurants every monday.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/...

Amie
Amie

I have a Cambodian friend who tried this place and he can attest that it is totally authentic. I am really looking forward to trying it!

Xiangxiangf123
Xiangxiangf123

welcome come here: {w w w } { goodshopping100 } { com } ***

our shop discount many kinds of fashion shoes, like the nike, jordan, prada, also including the jeans, shirts, bags, hat and the decorations. All the products are free shipping, and the the price is competitive, and also can accept the paypal payment., After the payment, can ship within short time.

WE ACCEPT PYAPAL PAYMENT

BEST QUALITY GUARANTEE!!

SAFTY & HONESTY GUARANTEE!! FAST & PROMPT DELIVERY GUARANTEE!!

YOU MUST NOT MISS IT!!!

very good web:{w w w } { goodshopping100 } { com } ***

Quickly snapping up right

Sy44
Sy44

Get lost !!You are in the wrong place...PIG !!!

 
Loading...