Phnom Penh Best Burger
Yes! This is the Phnom Penh best burger. It’s even better than most burgers I’ve had in the Land of Burgers: USA. It’s at Rustic Lounge, #21, Street 172 in Phnom Penh. This is not merely fried mince meat slapped between bread; maybe with an after thought of lettuce or onion, a nod to mustard, somebody’s memory of a pickle slice. Not this burger. This burger is an artisanal creation. Every detail is well thought out. It is not only delicious, it is beautiful to look at and to touch. This is made by somebody who cares, really cares, about their work.
The bun alone is a treat. It’s just dense enough, and just crusty enough, to soak up juices (and it is juicy) without falling apart and letting the juices leak all over the plate. It’s dressed with wads of tightly packed dark green leaves and grated cucumber. The result is a textural contrast between crisp greens, soft bread and chewy meat that is satisfyingly complex and feels wonderful in the mouth. And the meat is perfect. I ordered it medium rare. It came to me dark-char brown on the outside and blushing pink inside. It smelled both wild and tame at the same time.
And the French fries! Thick, wedge cut spuds with the skin on for extra flavor. Slightly brown on the outside, soft and moist on the inside. And they are served with the creamiest, tangiest, herbiest aioli I have tasted outside of the Republic of Aioli! Voila!
FYI: No ketchup! The house makes a marvelous, aromatic and flavorsome tomato condiment that reminds you of Marinara. It’s delicious. It would be great on lots of things. Hell, I could eat it plain. But it ain’t ketchup! However, there are several shops on the street where you can buy a bottle. And unlike bringing your own bottle of wine, where the house charges you “corkage” to uncork your bottle, they will not charge you “screwage” to unscrew your bottle of ketchup. I don’t know about a squeeze bottle. Squeezage?
PS: I go there often enough that I keep my own ketchup bottle behind the bar. It has my name on it. If you forget to bring yours, tell them I said you could use mine.