Today I’ll be eating spiders in Cambodia – In the capital, Phnom Penh to be precise. Surprisingly, this once hugely common dish has all but disappeared from major cities. We had to do some serious internet research to discover where to chew some tarantulas, without having to go rural.
We finally tracked down “Romdeng” restaurant. They keep live tarantulas on the premises so that spiders are a permanent menu option.
Eating Spiders: The Video
I’ve eaten insects before, deep fried spiders don’t differ too much. They lack any weird hairiness that you may expect and taste more of the oil they are fried in than of much else. I would say they are better in texture than crickets, grasshoppers or cicadas, simply because there are no chewy wings or shells to get stuck in your teeth.
A well cooked spider, surprisingly, melts in the mouth!
Normally I prefer to try weird food in a local, authentic surrounding. I made attempts in the other towns we visited to find them, asking locals, etc. I had little luck. I’ve also found Cambodia to have the lowest food hygiene standards of any Asian country I’ve visited – Although, India may rival that. The idea of eating spiders, that look like they have been sitting there for days, off a street cart, was not appealing.
Given all these difficulties, Romdeng Restaurant, was the simple solution. Romdeng is an NGO restaurant that helps train street kids to cook so that they have skills for the future. It is one of many NGO projects of that nature in Cambodia.
Romdeng’s reputation for good food with a responsible goal, makes it a popular choice. Too popular. In an attempt to take as many covers as possible they rush customers through their meals. Our main courses arrived before we’d even had a chance to begin our spider starter. We witnessed this for all the customers around us too.
The food was good, not great, but sadly, by the time we’d spent just 8 minutes filming our tarantula feast, our mains, which we had sent back to the kitchen, returned cold.
I don’t hold a grudge. Ultimately the restaurant is working for a good cause. But set your expectations that you are dining to help locals, not for an experience that matches the price tag.
Where Can I eat spiders in Phnom Penh?
The easiest place to do so in Phnom Penh is at Romdeng but it costs $4.25 for 4 spiders – quite a high price for Cambodia!
74 Street 174,
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
We know of one street vendor in central Phnom Penh who sometimes has spiders. They sell a variety of insects but I cannot vouch for the quality or hygiene at their stall. She parks up on the main riverfront road somewhere between the south end of the Royal Palace and the Himiwari hotel. We’ve seen her on both sides of the street but she is the only vendor selling a whole variety of insects – so keep your eyes peeled.
Outside of Phnom Penh, the primary place to eat tarantula is Skuon district (Also spelt “Skun”), north of Phnom Penh.
Some of these foods might not agree with your stomach – so please be careful and always have travel insurance in case you get sick. We recommend World Nomads as they’ve always had our back.[manual_related_posts]