Lok Lak is really a wonderful dish. Slices of meat (usually beef) is marinated in a delicious tomato-based marinade and then stir-fried very gently, so it retains its juiciness. It is then served on a bed of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and onions, so you can make your own lettuce wraps with the beef, that you then dip in a delicious sauce made from lime, black pepper and salt. Most places in Phnom Penh serve the Lok Lak with a fried egg on top, and some places also offer you a serving of fries on the side.
Lok Lak is actually a Vietnamese dish, and it was not until about 50 years ago that it became an integral part of Cambodian cuisine. However, Lok Lak soon became so popular that both locals and tourists often mistakenly believe that the dish has much deeper roots in Cambodia’s culinary history.
I had the Lok Lak in the photos at FBC (Food and Beverage Center) Gallery Restaurant, which is a project restaurant that offers young people from poor backgrounds training in the skills needed to work in the restaurant industry. I discovered FBC by coincidence, when I was walking in the neighborhood, and when I did some research for this blog post, it was almost impossible to find more information about the restaurant.
Compared to Friends, which is another restaurant here in Phnom Penh with a similar concept, FBC is pretty much invisible online. I only managed to find a small handful of Tripadvisor reviews as well as a Facebook page (in Cambodian), and the restaurant was almost empty when I was there. It is a pity, as it is a really nice restaurant and both food and service were great, so I hope that this blog post can help spread the word about FBC Gallery restaurant, which is definitely worth a visit.