Category Archives: Cambodia

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Another travel video for you! Obviously I had both this and the spin idea in mind throughout our time though there are definitely quite a bit for more certain areas/countries than others.

~B~

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Southeast Asian Fruit Review – Fruit! While Traveling

In the same way we reviewed ice cream bars in Korea and Malaysia, and soju and other alcoholic beverages in Korea, we also reviewed some Southeast Asia Fruit!

Oh how I could go for some of these fruits now! Of course, I am a big fan of fruit but even Kyle who is not usually big on fruit found himself eating it often when we were in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, and especially Vietnam. Many of these were packed with nutrients, keeping us healthy while we worked and traveled.

Groceries

We had actually already tried a couple of these (I’ll mention it) in the U.S., but there were others we hadn’t even heard of until we saw them! Not all of these fruits are native to Asia. Some, like dragonfruit and rambutan actually originate in regions in the Americas but they have all come to be common in parts of SE Asia.

Because of the weather, many are available year-round. With the growth of supermarkets like Whole Foods, some are bound to be available in the U.S. more frequently now as well, though. Once we are back in San Jose we plan to return to the big Asian grocery stores there in hopes of finding some of them. Unfortunately, there is no way most of it will be as cheap as it was in Asia, but we’ll see!

Siem Reap Groceries

For each fruit I’ll note the name we used and other names it may go by, where we tried it first, a little bit about our experience with it, our initial reviews, and variations we encountered. At the end I will also mention some fruits we didn’t get to try and our experiences with some other fruits across our travels.

More Fruits

Dragonfruit

Dragonfruit

Also known as:

Pitaya / Pitahaya

We first tried it in:

Saigon, Vietnam (District 1)

Story:

Due to our circumstances, Vietnam was a sort of last minute decision. I believe we bought tickets less than a week in advance. We found ourselves a little preoccupied our last few days in Kuala Lumpur so we didn’t have time to do a lot of research on the country before we arrived in Ho Chi Minh.

That actually made it even more fun! Really! We actually got to experience a little shock. Anyway, once we arrived in Ho Chi Minh, as per usual, we found ourselves to be hungry. We went wandering but all we found was people selling food in little stands on the street and we had trouble discerning what might be vegetarian. Or really, what any of the food was in general. Exhausted due to the day’s journey there, we returned to our place and Kyle went out looking for groceries.

He returned with a bunch of fruit he had bought in what he said had appeared to be someone’s living room to give us energy to figure things out. Dragonfruit was one of these fruits. We were both pretty excited about it because of how crazy it looked.

We actually weren’t wild about the taste at first, but over time it really grew on both of us. (We also prefer it refrigerated.) As Kyle says below, you expect it to have some crazy flavor because of the outside, but it is really a rather mild (yet refreshing) fruit. We ate tons of it throughout our time in SE Asia.

Dragonfruit preparedDragonfruit in bowl

Initial Reviews:

Kyle:

“Very visually appealing, but misleading because the flesh is actually a lot milder than you’d be led to believe. The flesh itself is kind of um.. sort of fibrous, but it has a nice crunch to it from the seeds which is kind of similar to a softer kiwi and the flavor is like a more mellowed out kiwi but with a little more sweetness than sourness.”

Briana:

“My initial reaction was that it definitely wasn’t bad. As I eat more I find that it is quite good. The flavor is mild, not strong (like Kyle said). There is a crisp crunch to it which sort of makes me think of a melon or even an apple but it is much softer. It is quite soft. There is a hint of sourness but it is not sour.”

Variations:

On Bali we also tried red dragonfruit and really enjoyed it. The taste is a little sweeter but watch out because it stains!

Bali BowlDragonfruit stain

Rambutan

Rambutan OutsideRambutan

Also known as:

Chôm Chôm

We first tried it in:

Dallas, Texas.

Story:

I don’t think we reviewed it in Texas – where we found it at the store – but it had been a couple years by the time we tried it again in Vietnam so it felt fairly new again. This was also among the first fruits we tried in Ho Chi Minh. This was a favorite of Kyle’s.

Reviews:

Kyle:

“Initially, I’d say that the rambutan looks like a red gum ball tree but honestly it tastes really sweet to me, very similar to a cherry. It has the texture of a cherry but the flavor of a coconut.”

Briana:

“The texture is really something different. When you take off the outer layer and eat it, it kind of reminds me of grape without the skin on it but a little bit chewier. It is juicy and sweet.”

Star Apple

Star Apple Inside

Also known as:

Milk Fruit / Cainito / Vú Sữa (“Milky Breast” in Vietnamese) / Estrella

We first tried it in:

Saigon, Vietnam – District 1

Story:

Our first place in Ho Chi Minh was actually a studio to ourselves but the owner still sent a maid to bring us a nice fruit gift basket with a card for Tet (the Vietnamese New Year). This fruit, among others, was in the basket.

Fruit Basket

Initial Reviews:

Briana:

“Soft, sugary. Reminds me a bit of an apple, sort of in between a baked apple and applesauce. I like the firmer part of it. It’s different.”

Kyle:

“It’s very sweet. It’s got a very light, kind of off texture. Tastes very sugary. Kind of tastes like its own thing.”

Papaya

Papaya OutsidePapaya Inside

Also known as:

Papaw / Pawpaw / Tree Melon

We first tried it in:

Orlando, Florida

Story:

We tried this together in Orlando and thought it tasted terrible. We wondered if it was over-ripe or just bad but I think we tried it again and also didn’t like it. It’s possible that we had it before this too but if we did we don’t remember. We tried it again in Ho Chi Minh because it was in our fruit basket.

Reviews – From HCM:

Briana:

“Ohh ewghl. Not for me. It seriously reminds me of spaghetti with tomato sauce on it and it just doesn’t seem right for a fruit but that is definitely what it tastes like to me. I do like the aftertaste which is weird to say but it’s more fruit-like. It appears really good and refreshing so I keep wanting to give it more tries but I don’t like the taste, at least for a fruit.”

Kyle:

“Well it tastes better than I remember. It’s got a decent aftertaste but the initial taste is.. kind of weird. It’s almost got like a burnt flavor.”

Custard Apple

Custard appleSugar Apple Outside

Also known as:

Sugar Apple / Buddha’s Head

We first tried it in:

Saigon, Vietnam – District

Story:

Purchased in the local Co-op Market because it looked interesting.

Initial reviews:

1st try:

Kyle:

“Tough, but it doesn’t taste bad.”

Briana:

“Looks weird. First taste, not so good. I know it’s fruit but it makes me think of chicken. Maybe I will try another one when it’s ripe.”

2nd try:

Kyle:

“It’s definitely sweet. The seeds are certainly a pain in the ass to get out. It kind of reminds me of like what an avocado would be like if it tasted like a pineapple.”

Briana:

“It tastes better but I am still bothered by the flesh. I think it would be good for people who like chicken. It is also hard to eat because there are so many big seeds. It also sometimes feels like I can literally taste grains of sugar in it or something.”

Water Apple

Water Apple InsideWater Apple

Also known as:

Java Apple / Wax Jambu

We first tried it in:

Saigon, Vietnam – District 1

Story:

I was a bit more fond of these than Kyle and thought they made nice light snacks. Kyle eventually – in Hanoi – tried making it into a spicy fruit salad with mango, water apple and pepper which was good, but spicy.

Fruit Salad

Initial Reviews:

Briana:

“There is a crispness like a regular apple. It also kind of reminds me a little bit of a potato. It is a little juicy, a little sweet. It’s different, but like many things. It’s good.”

Kyle:

“It’s honestly kind of tasteless. It’s definitely got that texture of a raw potato. Tastes like a very mild plum. It’s a very mild fruit. I could see this going well with a salsa.”

Jackfruit

JackfruitJackfruit and other fruits

Also known as:

Jak

We first tried it in:

Saigon, Vietnam – Go Vap District

Story:

Kyle went downstairs to clean a couple plates and make our lunch one day when he found the mother and uncle of our host laying down on the kitchen floor staring at the ceiling. They took the plates and handed him a plate of jackfruit. We thought it was nice of them and enjoyed the jackfruit, but we were even bigger fans of jackfruit chips.

They were one of our favorite snack foods in our place in Hanoi that didn’t really have a kitchen (but we ate them throughout SE Asia). At one point my friend Jessica mentioned that she has seen people eat it in the states so it must be available in some areas there. I have seen it listed as a meat substitute some places as well.

Initial Reviews:

Kyle:

“Got a nice solid texture and flesh. The flavor is kind of mild but what does it remind you of? It kind of has the taste of a slightly unripe mango but crunchier and more mild and slightly nutty. It’s also got a taste almost similar to banana-ish. It doesn’t taste like banana to me but there’s something like it.”

Briana:

“We had the jackfruit chips here first (a Vietnamese speciality) so we’re somewhat familiar with the taste. It also kind of reminds me of the milk teas I have been having down at a local cafe. It’s pretty good. I agree somewhat about the comparison to a mango. It almost has a somewhat artificial taste to it.”

Asian Guava

Dragonfruit and Guava

Note: the stuff below the dragonfruit is guava. We can’t find a pic of our own of the outside but here is a link to someone else’s pick.

Also known as:

N/A

We first tried it in:

Hanoi, Vietnam

Story:

We picked up one when we first arrived in Hanoi and ate it before it had ripened. It seems that the fruit is always a little hard but it smells and tastes nice. Later, in Weligama, Sri Lanka we tried a guava smoothie, yum! I actually did get paranoid about the seeds for a little bit when I read something about them and appendicitis, though.

Initial Reviews:

Briana:

First try – “Hard and the seeds are hard but good taste. Difficult to bite.”

After ripened (different guava) – “Very good. Strong smell. Would make a great juice. Seeds are just a slight annoyance.”

Kyle:

“Very pungent aroma that actually reminds me of durian but without the acrid overtones. The taste is very sweet, kind of creamy, very unique to itself and the flesh reminds me of a moderately ripe pear though there are many very hard seeds that can’t be easily chewed but are easily eaten.”

Passion Fruit

Passionfruit yumPassionfruit Outside

Also known as:

Maracuya

We first tried it in:

Hanoi, Vietnam or Siem Reap, Cambodia

Story:

Our first taste of passionfruit was in a drink our host Dai made for us in Ho Chi Minh. We can’t remember if we first tried the fruit itself in Hanoi or Cambodia (I didn’t note it by the review) but this was another fruit that, while we liked it at first, our fondness for the taste grew even more over time. In Galle, Sri Lanka (not SE Asia) I tried passionfruit ice cream which was delicious as well.

Initial Reviews:

Briana:

“I first had this in a smoothie. I really like it. It’s tart, sour, and sweet. There’s crunchy little black seeds. A little bit slimy, but good. Makes a good juice or smoothie, but it’s also good alone.”

Kyle:

“The skin is far more difficult to cut through than you would expect, but once through, a very vibrant and sweet aroma disperses. The interior doesn’t look very appealing, it almost looks rotten, but the slimy appearance is fine because the taste is very good. Tart and sweet with a nice crunch from the seeds.”

Variations:

Bali decided to be different again. At first when we got passion fruit here I thought it had gone bad because the coloring was very different inside. I was hesitant to eat it at first but it turns out it was just a different kind of passionfruit. I would describe the taste as similar but a little more mild/less tart – still tasty. We also tried a slightly different looking one in Sri Lanka.

Passionfruit outside baliBali Passionfruit
Passion Fruit Inside

Longan

Longan PackageLongan outside
Longan

Also known as:

N/A

We first tried it in:

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Story:

We just found them at the grocery store and tried them.

Initial Reviews:

Briana:

“Less sweet than other fruits. It’s nice that the seed doesn’t stick to the flesh like rambutan. Texture is similar to rambutan, gel-like. Not a strong taste.”

Kyle:

“Tastes like a slightly less sweet rambutan. The flesh is thinner than rambutan and has a much larger, but easier to eat around pit.”

Snake Fruit

Salak Packages
Snake Fruit Inside

Also known as:

Salak

We first tried it in:

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Story:

Same as above.

Initial Reviews:

Kyle:

“Very sharp, sour taste. There is a slight caramel after-taste. Kind of a citrus taste. The flesh is decent, though the inner-skin is weird. Very big pit inside.”

Briana:

“Soft, sweet, kind of citrusy. There is a skin on the outside that I don’t like, the texture of the flesh is a little weird, but I like the taste.”

Mangosteen

Mangosteen

Also known as:

The “Queen of fruit”

We first tried it in:

Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Story:

The elusive mangosteen! We expressed to our friend in Kuala Lumpur that we weren’t fond of the durian smell and he told us that everyone loves mangosteen and we should try it and so we – Kyle in particular – were on the lookout for this fruit for a long time before we finally found it.

Part of the reason we had trouble finding it was because Mangosteen has a distinct season. It was May when we finally laid eyes on it. I obviously wasn’t in a mood to review fruit when I first tried it as you see my review is a bit simple but this fruit is yummy! I prefer the parts of the fruit that can come out of the shell properly – so good – than to eat around the seeds, though. We were able to find it in Bali, Indonesia as well.

Initial Reviews:

Kyle:

“It’s very sweet. The flesh reminds me of a very ripe peach. Its taste kind of reminds me of a cross between a rambutan and an orange but without the citrusy bit to it.”

Briana:

“Sweet, tart, soft texture, pretty good.”

Pepino

Pepino OutsidePepino

Also known as:

Sweet Cucumber

We first tried it in:

Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Story:

While we were in Yogyakarta proper, we saw it at the store one day and decided to give it a try! We don’t remember seeing it elsewhere.

Reviews:

Kyle:

“Tastes very familiar. It kind of reminds me of a cucumber, but something else as well. Like
cucumber and melon basically. Oh wow, the seeds are sour. It’s a light and cucumber-y kind of fruit. Very refreshing. It’s got the texture of watermelon rind. This could probably be a good replacement for anything that requires cucumber.”

Briana:

“Immediately reminds me of a cucumber. I agree with Kyle’s cucumber melon combo. Smells and tastes fresh. Could be the new big lotion scent.”

Fruits We Didn’t Try That Are Available In The Region

Durian:

We did have durian ice cream and we saw durian all over the place but it was so acrid we couldn’t bring ourselves to try the actual fruit. We do regret that in a way but, well, have you ever smelt durian? It’s banned in many public places in Asia.

Soursop:

Fruits in Yogya

We bought this fruit in Yogyakarta but it never ripened. Instead, it just began molding. We were pretty disappointed because it’s supposed to be really good.

Pomelo:

We actually tried this in San Jose but we saw it in Asia but don’t remember trying it again. It’s good, though.

Wood Apple:

We asked our host in Sri Lanka about this because wood apple juice was common in the stores there but he said that you don’t really eat it. We tried the juice and it was fine.

Pulasan:

This fruit looks very similar to the rambutan. There is a small chance we could have eaten it thinking it was rambutan but we don’t think so.

There are also a number of fruits that are allegedly available in this region that we didn’t eat because we weren’t as aware of / weren’t looking for and / or don’t remember seeing including: Yangmei / Breadfruit / Longsat / Noni / and Sapodilla.

Other Fruits From Our Travels – But Did Not Review

Mango

Mango

Oh, mangos! We had many different types of mango in Asia. We enjoyed eating them fresh, in smoothies and in cooking. Gotta love those <$1 Vietnamese smoothies. In Kuala Lumpur and Siem Reap I tried mango sticky rice – so good.

In Thailand, Kyle started making mango salads. In Indonesia Kyle figured out a method for eating them that many people reading this may already be familiar with but it was exciting for us as it made it a little less messy. We were eating mangos in just about every country until we got to Europe where they got a little more expensive and / or less available.

Coconut

Coconut

Kyle loves coconuts and I didn’t hear the end of it while we were in Asia. I like shaved coconut but I’m not as big on coconut water / drinking out of the coconut. I no longer remember just how many we had but we had quite a few across Asia, including the golden coconut in Sri Lanka.

Star Fruit

Starfruit

We enjoy this in the states when we can find it and the same was true in Asia.

Lychee

In Petaling Jaya – Kuala Lumpur – we had a lychee juice which meant water with lychees and sugar in it. We also bought lychee drinks from the store in Vietnam. We never did find it to try it on its own though.

Kiwi

Korea Fruits

I’ve always been a fan of kiwi but don’t often get it. In Korea we could sometimes get lots of kiwis for a good deal. That was nice. They aren’t bad here in Budapest, either.

Pomegranate

pomegranate

This was the other fruit which we sometimes found good deals on in Korea. We took advantage of it when we saw them because we both really like them and they are more rare and expensive elsewhere.

Bananas

Fried Green Bananas

In Vietnam Kyle finally found a banana he liked! We fried up lots of little green bananas as snacks while in Hanoi and Bangkok. In addition to dried jackfruit, I also enjoyed dried bananas as a snack in Vietnam and Cambodia. When we couldn’t find regular bananas I’d always be a little upset though because I like them as a nice filling snack as well.

Lime

We didn’t really see lemons much abroad but we did see limes – which were sometimes called lemons. We like to put lime in our drinks and Kyle will sometimes cook with them. In Vietnam and Thailand we had kaffir limes.

Berries

Serbia had great deals on frozen berries, especially raspberries and blackberries. The deals on frozen berries in Budapest aren’t bad either. Here I have bought boxes of frozen berries – albeit not large boxes – a couple times of blackberries, strawberries, and cranberries for around $2.

In Serbia I had my fair share on oatmeal and in crepes we made. We did not really have any strawberries in Asia because wow can they get expensive! I’m talking $20-$100 for a regular package in the SE Asia countries we visited. I have to wonder who can afford them. They must be for special occasions for the rich or something. I think we did find an alright deal in Korea a couple times, though.

Apples

Green Apple

I do enjoy my granny smiths – others too, but those are my go-to. Across the world, if possible, I like to eat at least one a day. They have been available pretty much everywhere but the quality is not always good. Many places I can only find apples covered in bruises, with wormholes, etc.

Cherries

Cherry

We talked about our experiences with cherries in Bcharre, Lebanon in other posts but we also had cherries in Cyprus because there were good deals the first few weeks.

Watermelon

Watermelon

Aside from coconut, this is one of Kyle’s favorites. In Sri Lanka our hosts would often serve us watermelon with our morning tea. I have to note that there was variation in taste from the north to south, though. We also ate it in Cyprus when Kyle’s parents bought a large one at a stand on the side of the road.

Grapes

Grapes grew above our hot tub in Cyprus which was pretty neat! We ate some of them and also bought some at the store.

Jujubes

We almost forgot all about these! We picked up some dried jujubes early on in Korea as a snack food and would eat them anytime either one of us thought we might not be feeling our best because they are supposed to be really good for you. The taste was not bad but there is a seed in the middle.

Across our travels – some in Europe – at some (or multiple) points in time, we also found: Pineapples; Oranges; Melon; Plums; and Apricots. There is a chance I’ve forgotten something but I think I’ve covered a lot of fruit!

Technically avocado, tomato, cucumber are also fruits and we found those as well. Obviously we weren’t able to find all of these fruits in one place at one time. Each place has a little something different to offer. It’s been a great culinary adventure and we are grateful for this healthy part of it.

Dragonfruit and Tea

~B~