There are a number of Chinese noodle shops in Phnom Penh, but newcomer Man Hao Ji Noodle Shop gives the rest a run for their money. This new Taiwanese-run restaurant on Street 118 has a small menu, but after eating there three days in a row (it’s that good), I can say that every item on it is fantastic.
In my household, we cook pretty regularly from Fuchsia Dunlop’s amazing Chinese cookbook, Every Grain of Rice. So imagine my delight when I was brought to a new Chinese restaurant serving up dishes exactly like the ones I’d been attempting to create at home. This bodes well for the authenticity of both my cookbook and the restaurant, I think. I was also buoyed by the fact that the restaurant is Taiwanese run, because the Chinese food I ate in Taipei was undeniably better than what I ate when spending a month in China, traveling around the country and gorging myself.
Man Hao Ji’s menu features several noodle soups and bowls of handmade noodles. Their speciality is beef noodle soup, cooked in the Chinese style with red braised beef flavored with star anise and Shaoxing wine. At $5, it’s the most expensive thing on the menu, but well worth it. The broth is richer and meatier than anything I’ve tasted in town, and would make your typical kuy teav selling tear up in shame. The other noodle dishes I tried were also really good, zhajiangmian, called Beijing mixed noodles, ($3) and Arhat vegetable noodles ($2). The Arhat noodles are named after a term for someone who has attained nirvana in Buddhism, and, unlike most vegetable dishes in Cambodia, is actually vegetarian.
The non-noodle dishes are just as good. Garlicky cucumbers in Chinkiang vinegar ($1), “aroma sauce of beef tendon,” beef stir-fried with cucumbers ($2), boiled dumplings with a spicy chili sauce ($3) and Shaoxing wine chicken ($3) were all delicious and excellent value. The only dish that I wasn’t as keen on was the pork knuckles, which was just a plate of cold pork knuckles and not much else going on.
The friendly waitress is from Taiwan and doesn’t know Khmer, but speaks English to recommend her favorite dishes (she likes the Beijing mixed noodles). They have Cambodia beer on draft but haven’t figured out how to work it yet, so bring beers in from the mini-mart next door if you want to save yourself some frustration.
Man Hao Ji is one of those small restaurants that’s either going to be a big hit or fold in a few months due to lack of business. The food is authentic, delicious, and cheap and the place is definitely worth a visit, so please keep them afloat until my next visit to Phnom Penh.
Man Hao Ji Noodle Shop
39 Street 118 (at Street 17), Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
T: 089 265 065