Cambodia may be a long way from the Americas, but Taquería Corona is doing the cuisine proud. Ellie Dyer digs out her sombrero, with photography by Dylan Walker.

A surprise is in store for those who can drag their eyes away from the mountain of food presented at Taqueria Corona restaurant. The blue ceiling is decorated with hundreds of stars, enabling diners to feel as if they’re spending a night among the cactus-filled Mexican plains.

Such attention to detail, coupled with fresh and feisty food, ensures that the newest addition to Phnom Penh’s burgeoning Mexican culinary scene is one of the most memorable.

A first stop for diners should be the drinks menu where the ubiquitous spirit tequila makes a welcome appearance with at least nine varieties on offer. The classic margarita ($2.25), so often a wishy-washy disappointment in the capital’s bars, is a certain way to awaken your taste buds. Refreshing and punchy, it strikes an excellent balance between salty and sour. The drink comes with the added kick of a second glass being offered for $1.50.

The food menu doesn’t dissappoint. Both Amaerican-style and typical Mexican fare are served, with Californian hot sauce already on the table to spice up unadventurous palates. Fish, prawn and fish ceviche ($6.50), a range of burgers (from $5.25 upwards) and beer-steamed and tequila shrimp ($7.50) mark a welcome diversification from tortilla-focused food.

Well-known favourites are also worth re-visiting. Sizzling fajitas ($7.50) consist of three flour tortillas, a generous portion of marinated steak and both green and red peppers served on a hot plate. Salsa, jalapeños, cheese and sour cream come on the side, allowing diners to conncoct a mixture of their choice with a dizzying range of ingredients

Burritos ($6.75) are light on rice and, for an extra dollar, come with a filling of choice, from chorizo to seasoned pork or grilled shrimp. The chilli option displays the chef’s skill, with the ground beef both flavourful and, most importantly, tender.

Red ranchero sauce, available on the side, is also a triumph. The tomato-based mixture plays on the tongue with chilli heat that reaches a crescendo long after the first spoonful, yet manages not to overpower the tomato undertones. For each dish, thanks to some undoubtedly fresh ingredients and subtl spicing, the flavours remain clear and crisp despite the hearty nature of the food.

As a disclaimer I should say I’m an Englishwoman and, like many others living in Asia, am no expert on the intricacies of Mexican cuisine when compared to those hailing from the region. Regardless, I can testify that Taqueria Corona is offering good food, cooked from the heart.

Taqueria Corona, 14E Street, Phnom Penh.
Tel 089 281 626
Open 6pm to !0pm each day, and 11:30am to 2pm Monday to Saturday.