Good Taste: Cambodian soup calling

Num pa-chok soup at Angkor Restaurant.
Num pa-chok soup at Angkor Restaurant. (RON TARVER / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 17, 2013

Angkor is so hidden, tucked inside the arcade of an obscure strip mall on a hard-to-find stretch of Whitaker Avenue in the Lawncrest section of the Northeast, that it risks being unnoticed by the wider world.

But fans of Cambodian fare will find it worth the journey for the labor-intensive home-style specialties offered by Lee Choing and his co-owner chef, Kimhuor Tieng, from classic sour soups to fish paste-scented ground pork with crudité.

My favorite was the unusually delicate num pa-chok, an intriguing bowl of vermicelli noodles in coconut broth turned vivid turmeric yellow with Tieng's fresh curry, infused with lemongrass, kaffir lime, and aromatic rhizome root, then scattered with crumbles of poached whole tilapia, picked and mashed in a mortar and pestle. The effect is at once elegant and full-flavored exotic.

Stir in the tiny yet potent orange pepper perched on top, and the bowl lights up - like a homing beacon of fragrant Cambodian heat.

Num pa-chok, $7.95, Angkor Restaurant, 5520 Whitaker Ave., 215-831-1016.

- Craig LaBan

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