The Best Happy Hour in Phnom PenhAugust 18, 2008
For months now, grown men have been ineffectively flailing around in search of a good value sundowner. Added to that, I can attest to much aggrieved hooting from expats recently concerning the ever increasing cost of a cold beer in Phnom Penh. So, getting to the nub of things I believe I’ve come across the ultimate Phnom Penh Happy Hour – one that seriously cuts the mustard – and it’s in the gilded environs of the Chow Restaurant no less.
As can be seen in the photo, the Chow has a style and décor to be seen more often in London, Paris or New York than Sisowath Quay, Cambodia. In fact, I expected to amble in and find loads of caviar, oysters and braying highborn little monkeys whooping it up (which never fails to bring out the sour old (ex) Trotskyite in me).
For Chow is very grand, bright and white, and oh-so-posh, with some seriously sharp designer touches and a zeitgeisty pan-Asian menu. The Khmer staff looked nicely presented (extremely elegant actually – I’m not but I like to be around the elegant in the hope something might rub off). Service was swish and efficient and there were no attitude problems when a work colleague quadruple parked his beers at 7.59pm, a minute before the end of Happy Hour. Furthermore, the air con is cool enough for one to anticipate penguins ice skating down the length of the stately bar, and the sound system was playing Joy Division, which others may think incongruous but received two thumbs up from this reviewer.
And best of all, the cost of an ice cold Tiger draft is $1 from 6pm-8pm. Therefore, the bill for my seven beers came to a less then princely $7.
The only downsides were the hell-on-earth traffic along Sisowath Quay at 6pm on a Friday (it’s a well known fact that early evening SUV traffic in Phnom Penh produces a daily carbon emission equivalent to 260 flights between New York and London), plus the slight annoyance that one has to park around the block at K-West. Oh and just be careful of that sink tap in the gentleman’s restroom – it’s got a mind of its own.
Fancy a sundowner? So what’s it to be – $1 Tigers at Chow or $1.50 Anchors in a St 136 sweat-pit? Sheesh. Hard one to call, isn’t it?
Happy Hour 6pm -8pm
Chow Restaurant at the Quay Hotel
# 363, Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh