8 Delicious (and Diverse!) Places to Eat in Long Beach's Cambodia Town

Catfish, clams, beef sticks with mango salad and bitter green soup at Crystal
Catfish, clams, beef sticks with mango salad and bitter green soup at Crystal
Sarah Bennett

On the southbound 710, as you drive toward the cranes and office towers that comprise Long Beach’s skyline, there's a freeway sign heralding the proximity of the city’s only designated ethnic neighborhood: Cambodia Town. If you take the Anaheim Street exit and head east, you’ll find a rare flurry of Khmer-owned bridal shops, jewelry stores, restaurants and temples.

But “Cambodia Town” is a bit of a misnomer as well — the area is so much more than just a cultural hub for the largest Cambodian population in the United States. In reality, the mile-long stretch of Anaheim Street (which is part of the Eastside Long Beach romanticized in ‘90s rap) is as diverse as Long Beach itself, reflected in a stockpile of restaurants that span from Southeast Asia to Mexico and back to the States. In the last few years, the variety has increased even more.

Today, eating your way through Cambodia Town means eating more than lok lak, amok trey and kuy teav (though of course that’s the coolest part). From west to east (plus two off the main drag), here are eight places to get a true taste of Cambodia Town.

Chicken sandwich at Qrious Palate
Chicken sandwich at Qrious Palate
Sarah Bennett

Qrious Palate
Bringing the all-waffles-everything craze to Long Beach, Qrious Palate opened last August, taking over the home of a greasy rotisserie chicken and burger spot. With a renovated interior and new paint job, the place is still a cheap, counter-service eatery for the neighborhood but, instead of boring burgers on regular buns, the new menu has sandwiches, burgers and dinner plates that utilize the new owner’s house waffle recipe. If you’ve never had mash-ups like waffle bulgogi burger, a salmon-and-waffle platter with honey butter or a waffle-bound chicken sandwich with spicy maple syrup, this is the place to remedy that lack. 955 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach; (562) 599-5088; qriouspalate.com

El Sauz's late-night taqueria
El Sauz's late-night taqueria
Sarah Bennett

El Sauz
This sit-down Mexican restaurant has too-sweet red sauce and smelly oysters that would never fly in the rest of L.A. But in taco-truck-lacking Long Beach, El Sauz is able to redeem itself by running a late-night taqueria attached to its exterior. With a walk-up window facing the parking lot and plastic chairs splayed out for eating, you don’t even have to walk inside to take advantage of their $1.50 tacos and $1.50 mulitas. All the meat is good here — including asada, pastor, lengua, cabeza and buche — and each order comes with a roasted pepper and sweated grilled onions, plus a fiery salsa roja that can go head to head with the best in L.A. 1616 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach; (562) 591-8060; elsauzrestaurantlb.com

Personal pie at Pinches Pizza
Personal pie at Pinches Pizza
Sarah Bennett

Pinches Pizza
Pinches Pizza has no idea what kind of pizzeria it wants to be, and that’s exactly why its existence in Cambodia Town is so great. Fake-brick wallpaper and framed overexposed photos of New York City make you think maybe they’re trying to compete with an East Coast slice. But you can't get an individual slice here, and the few old arcade games and chicken-wing specials scream classic Middle America pizzeria. Add in a freezer of bolis and ice cream tubs that attract the neighborhood Hispanic kids, and there is no telling what Pinches Pizza (no relation to L.A.'s Pinches Tacos chain) is trying to be. The pizza is not traditional in any way and is not emulating any style. It’s one created out of urban necessity, built for takeout or delivery; doughy and greasy in all the right ways. Personal pizzas start at less than $5, and the most popular topping is a specialty creation called Mexican Bandido, which comes with pepperoni, jalapeño, chorizo, beans and tomatoes. 1711 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach; (562) 599-5246.

Amok trey at Siem Reap
Amok trey at Siem Reap
Sarah Bennett

Siem Reap
Even though Siem Reap is one of the few Cambodian restaurants that does delivery, most orders driven to doorsteps are for its Chinese and Thai dishes, which include pad Thai, chicken chop suey and more. Dine in instead to see tables full of the Khmer dishes for which the restaurant is known: things like citrusy deep-fried quail, bitter oxtail soup and amok trey, or fish curry served in a whole coconut. Named after the city that houses Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s most famous temple, Siem Reap represents the country’s cuisine well. It’s the perfect place to get acquainted with it all, from approachable Khmer-style beef skewers to the undeniably bizarre anchovy salad, made by combining olives, jalapeños, mini green eggplants and the fermented fish paste prohok. Still don’t like Cambodian food? There’s always mu shu pork. 1810 Anaheim St., Long Beach; (562) 591-7414; siemreapkhmercuisine.com

8 Delicious (and Diverse!) Places to Eat in Long Beach's Cambodia Town (10)
Hak Heang

Hak Heang Restaurant
Cambodia Town has several places like Hak Heang, seafood restaurants that are more of a large event space than a typical eatery, built for catering weddings and special events rather than everyday customers looking for regular meal service. But finding a day that is not reserved for a private party is worth the effort. With live bands, karaoke, DJs or Cambodian pop music blaring during most of its operating hours (including brunch), the ambience is as loud as the flavors on the menu. Your server can't hear you through it all, so you’ll have to point to the Chinese, Thai and Khmer dishes you want to order for your family-style feast, including traditional noodle soups, bitter sadao salads, Hainan chicken, mee ka-thang (Khmer-style chow fun), fried frog legs and fresh lobster, crab and fish (which comes boiled and fried, tossed with jalapeños and more). 2041 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach; (562) 434-0296.



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