If I had to choose my biggest weakness, it would be Asian food. Give me dumplings and dim sum, pho and pad thai. I love kimchi and teriyaki and Szechuan, oh my! I love Asian food in a boat. I love Asian food with a goat. I’ll eat it here. I’ll eat it there. I’ll eat Asian food anywhere.
So, when I turned in my big city card and started living out here in the boonies, you can imagine how excruciating my withdrawals were. I’m not one to just accept the status quo, though, so I went on the lookout for great, authentic Asian food anywhere I could find it. And I did find it. It just never seemed to be where I expected.
It was just this past July. The family and I spent the day in Naramata. We ooed and ahhed and melted a little bit over the amazing cheeses at Poplar Grove, then bought way too much of it and ate more on the beach. After a swim and a float and a soak, when we were sufficiently sun-crisp, we decided to head home and grab a bite to eat in Penticton on the way back to Summerland.
The hairier half and I like to try new places as often as we can, and so we found ourselves sitting on the patio at Penticton’s Cambo Beach Restaurant, a place we had literally never even noticed before. It looked, to me, like your classic burger slinging beachfront diner where the best I could hope for would be thick-cut bacon on a mouth-destroying clubhouse.
To my surprise, however, the menu revealed a plethora of Asian dishes. Dishes I loved. Dishes I missed. Dishes I taught myself how to make because I needed them in my life so badly. Pad Thai and curries, coconut prawns and pot stickers, there was even wonton soup and the mother of all Asian dishes: pho.
“Is this… is this an Asian restaurant?” I stuttered, not addressing anyone in particular.
“I think it is.” My husband said.
That’s when it happened. With a ding, my dunce cap fell off and it dawned on me: Cambo is short for Cambodia! Maybe. I asked and it has not been confirmed or denied by the owners.
Ohhh, Cambodia. The little nation cuddled snug between the mighty kingdom of satay and the enchanted land of pho. I have never been to Cambodia, but I’ve been damn near close. I imagine it smells a lot like Thailand did, like oiled woks and noodles and spices, simmering broths and curries, a bite of cilantro and lime in the air. Cambodia, I am sure, celebrates all the same flavours I love about all the other Asian countries in the world’s most culinarily blessed continent. I was so ready to dive in at Cambo Beach.
Noggins, let me tell you, I was not disappointed. I ordered the Green Curry which was described on the menu as,
The most popular curry dish which is smooth and rich with a hint of basil. Served with coconut steamed rice and seasonal vegetables.
It was the coconut steamed rice that sold me, even though I’m a bonafide curry devotee.
Listen, this dish was everything a Thai curry is supposed to be. Saucy and rich, creamy and decadent, aromatic with extra-dimensional umami properties and a little kick of spice to send each spoonful down your chow channel smoothly.
My husband was equally as impressed with his peanut-peppered Pad Thai. When he let me slurp a few noodles, it hit all the right notes and the only thing it was lacking was more sriracha, which, let’s face it, was my fella’s fault, really. It tasted like Pad Thai tasted on the street in Phuket when you grab a bowl for a buck on your stroll down Bangla Rd. at 3 am after a wild night of Singha beer, buckets of SangSom and trying to sing karaoke in a language you don’t know.
A good Asian dish has the power to satisfy even the most ravenous hunger, warm your belly and extinguish any existential crises you might be in the midst of. Did the green curry and pad thai at Cambo Beach rise to the occasion? Let’s just say, I haven’t picked up my Sartre reader since.
- Cambo Beach Restaurant offers tofu in place of any animal-based protein in their popular Asian dishes, so vegetarians, this place is for you!
- The menu boasts kid’s choices that will please the tiny beige food lovers in your life.
- Cambo is on Lakeshore, so you get to dine with a view of our beautiful lake.
- Look for special prices on drinks and appies from 2-5pm.
- Cambo Beach Restaurant bases its menu on customer feedback, so if there’s something you want to see on the menu there, talk to the staff!
- Reservations recommended! (778) 476-7888
Check out the Cambo Beach website: www.cambobeach.ca
Cambo beach location:
Have you eaten at Cambo Beach Restaurant? What did you think? What is your favourite Asian food in the Okanagan? Let us know in the comments!