Chow Bella

Chop PHX: Loat Cha

Tired of the same old tired orange chicken and California rolls? Want to venture beyond the standard suburban-stale take-out? Here comes Chop PHX, with the Valley's rarer Asian offerings.

This Week: Loat Cha from Sekong By Night

The Basics: Cambodian food is the mind-blowingly delicious love child of Thai, Laotian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian and French cooking. Borrowing from each culture, the people of Cambodia did fusion cuisine before it was cool. As Sekong owner, Yutheana In, said, "We take the best of the best and add a twist to it to make it our own."

"Americans have hot dog stands, Cambodians have loat cha stands," Yutheana says. Loat cha is the very definition of street food. It's cheap, filling, tasty and ubiquitous. Loat cha is traditionally a strictly vegetarian affair but modern interpretations have added all manner of meat and seafood.

"When I first went to Cambodia, it's probably the first thing I had," says Yutheana, noting that the dish is still his favorite.

More about the noodles after the jump.

Sekong By Night's loat cha: The most distinguishing feature of loat cha is the loat rice noodles. They look like mung beans but eat like round pad thai noodles. Each noodle is fairly short and this gives the dish a unique texture while making it amusingly difficult to eat with chopsticks.

Soy and fish sauce serve as the base for the stir-fry sauce. This base is supplemented by the inclusion of chili paste, vinegar and lemon juice. Thin slices of beef are added as well, imparting their own flavor as they acquire a thick savory sweet coating. Traditionally, this dish is topped with an egg fried sunny side-up. However, Yutheana says that they use thinly sliced scrambled egg to better enhance the flavor the dish.

Ick Factor: Low. In fact, this dish is a perfect way to ease someone into eating something besides orange chicken or fried rice. It is neither inherently spicy nor is it prepared with any unusual or potentially offensive ingredients.

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Ando Muneno
Contact: Ando Muneno