Reathrey Sekong was my first experience with Cambodian food, and it’s no mystery why. The hole-in-the-wall Phoenix joint is the sole Cambodian restaurant in all of Arizona.
Formerly dubbed “Sekong by Night,” this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, eight-table spot boasts some seriously flavorful food with atypical combinations for remarkably cheap prices. You’ll pay about $25 for two meals and drinks, but my dining partner and I went all out for our weeknight experience.
We arrived to a mostly-vacant dining room, with just one other party filling the tables in the super small, dimly lit restaurant. Ornate Cambodian décor that would make any Cost Plus World Market shopper drool lined the walls, complete with a traditional-looking sitting area that we assumed was not meant to be sat upon at all.
But hey, you don’t come to this kind of place for ambiance—though the quiet dining room had some serious personality. Here, it’s all about the food. And man, they’re enthusiastic about it. Each dish on the menu is followed by an exclamation point. Hurray!
Reathrey Sekong offers a surprising mix of classic Asian flavors with French influences, but on this night we went for the staples. Starting off with a decadent, sweet, rich glass of iced French roast coffee (listed as Café Thuck Doh Ko), we were off to a good start. The robust, thick coffee is sweetened with condensed milk — a style popular everywhere from Cambodia, Vietnam, Spain and even American coffee houses.
Vietnamese pho lovers will feel at home here. And while we hate to compare, they’re definitely similar. We ordered a massive serving of chicken noodle soup that would make your American mom weep over her boring batch of egg noodles and carrot concoction (Sorry mom.) Long rice noodles are accompanied by tender shredded chicken breast and juicy chicken meatballs, with lime-tinged broth and finely chopped green onions. Portion sizes are enough to share, but you likely won’t want to. Order a big glass of water with this one, though. It’s sodium city, but well worth the bloat.
Next came the Mi Cha, with yellow egg noodles, thinly sliced beef, shrimp, katna broccoli and carrots. The fried dish has that inexplicable fried rice flavor, except in noodle form. And damn if it isn’t tasty. The tender beef paired with shrimp is a winner.
Now, like I said before, we ordered way too much food. We could have stopped here, but we pushed on with the Cambodian BBQ Platter with grilled beef slices, chicken wings and beef skewers. On their own, the beef slices were pretty bland, but they’re served with an unusual garlic fish sauce that really punches up the flavor.
While the chicken wings get an honorable mention, the beef skewers are easily the star of this dish. Slightly sweet and perfectly grilled, these skewers had a beet red marinade that was difficult to pin down. It didn’t matter. We ate them up.
We finished off our far-too-large meal with what was unfortunately the best dish of the night, but we couldn’t take more than a few bites of the delectable Cha Kynei. Ginger fanatics need to get to Reathrey Sekong and try this chicken dish right now. Paired with a sweet ginger sauce and crunchy, fresh green onions, this simple combination will be my first go-to in our pile of lunch-worthy leftovers.
Overall, Reathrey Sekong was an experience worth a second trip, but if you plan on going, make sure to GPS the location. Wedged next to a mechanic shop and other small businesses in the heart of Phoenix, you’ll have to do some serious looking to find the tiny location. But once you’re there, prepare for attentive service and bargain prices on one of the state’s most unique dining experiences.
1312 E. Indian School Rd.,
(480) 238-0238 or