Phnom Penh Sandwich Station (White River Junction, VT)

Okay, I know that my regular readers are already asking, “Wait… didn’t you already review Phnom Penh?”. The answer is, yes, I did, but that was the review of their Lebanon, NH location, and earlier this year, after a lengthy renovation, Phnom Penh opened up a newer location in White River Junction in the former Polka Dot Restaurant location. Normally, I wouldn’t do a review on a second location of someplace, but with the opening of Phnom Penh’s second brick-and-mortar location, a few changes have happened. First, the new location is primarily dine-in, versus the primarily take-out nature of the Lebanon location. Second, they’ve got a liquor license. Finally, the transition from a “Sandwich Station” to a full dine-in restaurant has allow Sarin Tin, the owner, to add several additional Cambodian dishes to the menu.

With one or two exceptions (they don’t seem to do the coconut cookies anymore), the other favorite menu items are still there, however. For this visit, we started with our favorite appetizer from Phnom Penh: the “Sarin Special”. This is basically just a combination of the fried spring rolls, and the steamed cool summer rolls, both chopped up, covered with chili sauce and nuoc cham, and, quite frankly, it’s just a nice combination of two Southeast Asian specials I enjoy.

In my previous review, I gave a firm thumbs up to Pnhom Penh’s “Bánh mì-like” sandwich (the ginger pork sandwich with cucumber, cilantro, pickled carrots, and chili mayo), and once they opened the second location, the owner now brings in both the Vietnamese-style French bread, pate, and head cheese to make a bánh mì the right way. So now both locations allow one to truly enjoy a proper bánh mì, and everything is working. The bread is just right, with just the right amount of toast. The layer of butter is just thick enough to give the right texture but not make it crazy greasy. The hame, pate, and headcheese are all flavorful and a nice contrasting cool with the heated bread. Add some cilantro, pickled carrots, and some daikon, and it’s just as good as the Vietnamese bánh mì I’ve gotten many other places. It’s a great addition to their menu.

Speaking of additions, they’ve also added two new entrees: Kuy Teav Cha (fried noodles with shrimp and beef) and Mi Kary (shrimp and tofu with yellow curry noodles and veggies). I haven’t yet tried the Mi Kary, but the Kuy Teav Cha is a nice addition to the menu as well.

Finally, I mentioned they’ve got beer and wine now, with the beer selection focusing on local breweries (like River Roost, just down the street). It’s really nice to see the synergy with other White River Junction businesses, and I always enjoy River Roost’s beer.

Overall, while the White River Junction location isn’t as convenient for me, I’m glad Sarin has a new, dine-in location, and has expanded the service and the menu. It’s definitely a good addition to the local dining scene. (Heads up: at some point various redevelopment efforts of Lebanon’s “Malfunction Junction” mean the building currently holding the Lebanon Phnom Penh is getting razed, and last I talked with him Sarin didn’t have plans to relocate the Lebanon store after that. Well done, City of Lebanon…)

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