Nom pao, Cambodia’s savory version of siopao

Categories abroad, Food
Nom pao on a saucer. An ubiquitous snack around Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Cambodia

Cross-section, meatier, flavorful
One thing that I really like doing in Cambodia is this: EAT. The country is a food lover’s paradise and with the many kinds of food available, there’s always something new to discover.

While roaming around Kandal Market in Phnom Penh the other day, I saw a familiar steamed bun: can this be siopao? I was already hungry at that time and went to the saleslady. I asked what’s inside the bun and she said its meat. Pork, to be precise. Hearing that, I got excited and ordered one.

Nom pao. The lady told me. I removed the paper padding at the bottom, sunk my teeth into the steamed bun and was just delighted with what I had in my mouth. Savory, delectable and filling. It was much better than what I have been eating back home. And to think that even in streetside eateries, the Khmers don’t scrimp on the filling.

Unlike steamed buns from Manila, though, the piece of hard boiled egg is just plain, not salted egg. But no problem. I’ve been eating nom pao since the past few days. Price can vary from RH2,000 to RH4,000 ($1).

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

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