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BATTAMBANG CAMBODIAN RESTAURANT

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Oakland restaurant a welcoming spot to try out Cambodian When Battambang opened in Oakland in 1993, it was one of the very few Cambodian restaurants in the Bay Area. Now, more than 10 years later, it still is -- and it's also a pleasant place to get a sampling of the flavors of the Southeast Asian country.

Battambang occupies a well-lit row of remodeled storefronts on the edge of Oakland's Chinatown. Walls are painted in warm pumpkin hues, lit by wall sconces and decorated with precisely spaced small framed paintings and an assortment of Cambodian artifacts. Cloths cover the tables, which are set with brightly colored plates and small vases of flowers.

It's a welcoming setting, and the servers are welcoming as well. If you're unfamiliar with the food, you might ask for their help, especially since the menu is fairly lengthy. It's broken into the typical categories but includes a vegetarian section with more than 20 choices.

As served at Battambang, Cambodian food is fairly similar to what's found on most Thai menus. It's homier and somewhat less sophisticated -- and definitely less spicy -- but will be familiar to those who eat Thai food regularly.

Lawt ($5.95), Cambodian-style spring rolls, come in bite-size bundles, eight to a plate. Stuffed with ground pork, bean threads and ground peanuts, they're sturdy and crisp, and are paired with pickled cabbage and a sweet dipping sauce.

The green papaya salad called nhorm lahong ($6.95) is refreshing, especially with its healthy dose of lime juice and fresh mint, but a shot of chile would have balanced the flavors. So, too, with Battambang's noodles ($7.95), pan-fried soft rice noodles tossed with chicken, egg and bean sprouts. It was pleasant enough but came off as straightforwardly sweet, lacking the promised ground chile as a counterpoint to the tamarind sauce.

Moarn aing ($6.95), a grilled half chicken cut into pieces, is heartier, with the bird's pungent ginger marinade standing up to the grilling and a lime dipping sauce adding some spritz.

A simple beef curry called saramann ($7.95) is satisfying, with tender sliced meat, chunks of yam and young coconut meat awash in a creamy, mild sauce. The presentation moves up a notch with amok trei ($8.95), listed as one of the house specialties. Unwrap the packet of banana leaves and you'll find pieces of catfish steamed in a red sauce infused with lemongrass.

Banana leaves make another appearance in some of the house desserts, including num lapov ($3.25), in which two small trapezoid-like packages hold a dense steamed pudding of pumpkin, rice flour and coconut milk. Not overly sweet, it's delicious, although the texture might be an acquired taste for some.

When we asked about the overall mildness of the dishes, our server answered that diners generally have to request more heat. Next time, I'll do just that -- a little extra spark won't hurt the flavors at all.

Miriam Morgan, San Francisco Chronicle Food Editor

Battambang Cambodian Restaurant
850 Broadway Street
Oakland, CA 94501
510-839-8815

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Website

http://battambangrest.com

Neighborhood

Downtown / Jack London Square

Cross Street

9th Street

Cuisine

Asian
Cambodian
Organic
Seafood
Vegan Friendly
Vegetarian Friendly

Serving

Dinner
Lunch

Take Out

Yes

Catering

No

Online Ordering

No

Ambience

Casual

Dress

Casual

Reservations

Accepted

Parking

Street

Payment Methods

Most Major Credit Cards

Features

Beer & Wine Only
Coupons / Special Offers
Kid Friendly
Non-Smoking
Organic
Vegan Friendly
Vegetarian Friendly

Hours


Monday -Thursday
11am - 9:30pm

Friday
11am - 10pm

Saturday
11am - 3pm

Dinner
5pm - 10pm

Sunday
5pm - 10pm

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