XXL? sure you got them letters right?

XXL -227 Sisowath Quay , Phnomn Penh

I went to XXL with a growling stomach, following up on a tip. Any recommendation I always consider carefully, whether for a bar, a beach, a bird and most definitely for an eatery. A wide-boy plumber, a way chilled out man traveller or per diem folk may not have the same idea as me as to what is good. The guy who told me about XXL I like a lot and has his ear to the ground for goings on, openings, great deals and such ? let?s give the lunch special a try I suggested.

Midday sunbathing with beggars and mobile bookshop attendants to rub lotion onto the back didn’t appeal, so in we went, to be greeted by air-con that could freeze the tip of your tongue, the sense of being stalked and rather dim surroundings until the eyes adjusted to find slightly odd deccor. Some awkward staff emerged and one approached stiffly with a question. Yes, we would like to see a menu, which wasn’t exactly true as the reason for coming was to have the allegedly fantastic club sandwich – made with excellent and wholesome homemade bread no less, so I’d been told at least.

Now, I always thought a club sandwich was a multi-layered offering with ham, cheese, chicken or turkey, perhaps egg with salad. So when the puppet-on-a-string waitress asked what I wanted in my club sandwich and went through the options (the fillings listed above, plus salami), I was scratching my head. Can’t I have all of them?

She came back to say we could have two fillings, or all of them, but that chicken was particularly good. So she wanted us both to have a chicken sandwich now. Getting the full works, though offered, was clearly out of the question; a bit of Asian cunning. And they’re all out of Anchor. A $2 tin of Tiger or perhaps an Angkor can? No. Thanks.

All the while we were suffering the ball-breaking music – the direst pop ballads from the late 80’s – plus the surplus staff gawping at us and frostnip developing in the loins. Was this really the right place my friend wondered.

His stroke of genius was to immediately request the grub to take away. Having paid with exact change and received the goods, the sense of elation and freedom on making our getaway was almost a high. We found a stall setting up outside the old Globe restaurant, got cold beers and opened our lunch boxes to find a postcard-sized roll with pretty meager fillings.

A couple of munches in I inspected the contents further: bog standard ham and ordinary ‘cheddar’ in mine. It filled but a tiny compartment in my cavernous stomach, though the slimy dollop of mayo was probably the main reason for that.

I was left wandering what had made my mate enthuse and just what XXL referred to. Not the portions, not the fillings, not the overall quality, not even the price of the sarny. ‘Medium’ summed things up better, but the letter ‘M’ was taken long ago by another restaurant.

Jack Stevens

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