Toul Tom Poung: Expat Dining Options AplentyMarch 23, 2014
There’s a buzz about Toul Tom Poung these days. One by one, the often two-story timber artisan dwellings formerly housing wood workers or scooter dealers are being razed and replaced with lanky apartment buildings that are rapidly transforming the local skyline in a way reminiscent of Boung Keng Kong’s remodeling in the late noughties and first half of this decade.
The majority of white faces in 2014 are no longer sweaty, dazed-looking tourists jumping in and out of tuk tuks under the midday sun whilst on a market mission, but expats domiciled in the recently constructed apartment blocks searching for an after work early evening bite to eat. And as a result, a whole range of diverse eateries have sprouted up like mushrooms almost overnight. K440 reviewed the popular Mexican Alma a while ago and now we review three more TTP dining options favored by a burgeoning expat community:
There are two possible dining routes at this sassy Asian Fusion café. Firstly, you can go down the noodle road and take a large bowl of superbly crisp and fresh veg with noodles, caramelized/fatty pork and a dollop of pungent hoisin. As an alternative, the ‘small plates’ tapas option beckons and diners can pick and choose from menu items such as an exceptionally fragrant lemongrass pork tsukune (Japanese skewered kebabs), tofu kimchee or plump crisp and bulging spring rolls stuffed with chicken, pumpkin and cheese (and somehow this strange combination of flavors works just fine).
The clientele in this spic and span diner featuring Japanese influenced interior design tends to be from the ‘treehugging’ sector of the local expat community so think big-bummed twenty and thirty-something NGO women bedecked in harem pants; earnest-looking, sandal wearing, bearded white males of a similar ilk, but service is brisk and efficient and as a bonus, Sesame stock the truly outstanding Sierra Nevada IPA craft beer from the USA as well as a (to-be-expected in a Japanese-run eaterie) range of schochu and sake.
A meal for two will cost around $15+ with soft drinks/shakes but no alcohol; more if you order imported beer, sake or get involved with the extensive cocktails list.
Located in a balmy easygoing garden setting directly across a quiet road from one of TTP’s latest high-rise monstrosities, L’Orchidee is, if you can imagine it, a homely neighborhood restaurant serving up delightfully flavored Khmer food whilst presided over by an amiable Frenchman.
After being presented with a clean wet chilled cotton towel and a plate of complimentary spea chrok (Khmer green mustard pickles), the menu features many of the local treats you might find in a TTP beer garden restaurant only minus the leery drunken local men and woeful caterwauling sadly typical of many a Khmer-owned TTP restaurant.
Firm favorites include any of the soups (Tom Yam or Vietnamese style sour), the nom banh chok seafood combination, and clay pot simmered crab with glass noodles; draft beers are ridiculously cheap, the customers are a less noisome and more obliging bunch than those at other local expat restaurants and the bill including three or four plates plus drinks should come in at less than $20.
Ask five different expat pizza experts for their favorite Phnom Penh pizza vendor and the chances are you’ll get five different replies – none of which will include the swollen, sausage stuffed-crust abomination served up by Pizza Company and favored by Khmers young and old.
So Brooklyn has now joined the pack alongside Dolce, Garage, the ridiculously named Katy Perry’s Pizza, La Volpaia, Nike’s and the rest and has already found a crowd of admirers albeit a loud, honking young NGO crowd, but don’t let that put you off – opening your American style neighborhood pizza joint in a neighborhood brimming with young American expats is certainly one way of achieving that all important competitive advantage.
But what about the pizza and what is ‘Brooklyn style’? Well according to those experts at the New York Times, Brooklyn style means the pieces are so big, you can fold them and the largest sized option is, well, outlandishly large.
As for the pizza itself, the tomato sauce was a good deal less sweet than the Khmer palate might expect and our to-go ‘Godfather’ came with a fulsome amount of meatballs and Italian sausage making it pretty decent value for $14.90 especially if you don’t mind leftover cold slices for lunch the next day. In addition, the side order of BBQ chicken wings we took were a serious winner with a well judged combination of smoky, honey-flavored sauce and perfectly cooked poultry. The downside? Well, I guess that frequent lunchtime or after work visits to Brooklyn Pizza could lead to shirt buttons straining and eventually pinging off.
Brooklyn Pizza: #20 Street 123, Toul Tom Poung, Phnom Penh, 089 925 926
L’Órchidee: #82, Street 464, Toul Tom Poung, Phnom Penh, 012 998 123
Sesame Noodle Bar: #9 Street 460, Toul Tom Poung, Phnom Penh