A fast-developing residential suburb in the south of Cambodia’s cacophonous capital, Tuol Tom Poung has been a popular tourist haunt, thanks to its heady and colourful local bazaar, known colloquially as the “Russian Market”. Here, you can take in myriad scenes of Khmer life, from street food sellers hawking wok-fried dishes to pyjama-clad grandmothers practising tai chi.
More recently, cafés, restaurants and speakeasies have also started sprouting across the neighbourhood, making it a popular hangout spot for coffee snobs, imbibers and digital nomads alike.
This hybrid eatery, boutique and bar was opened last November by Malaysian-Australian fashion designer Sabrina Wong and her partner, Paul Sitai. The renovated Chinese shophouse features a melange of antique and modern furniture, French colonial tiles and a central dining room. Wong’s fashion line is on display in an alcove, while Sitai cooks up dishes from his hometown (try the Brunei-style halal chicken curry).
Opened last year a few blocks east of the Russian Market, Nesat brings the Cambodian coastal town of Kep’s famous seafood to the capital. It impresses diners with its cheery nautical design (think fishing nets and rustic wooden tables) and lip-smacking seafood delivered fresh from Kep each day. Don’t miss head chef Sopheavy Chea’s garlic clams, smoky barbecued prawns and her famous Kampot pepper fried crab.
Named after a Tom Petty album, this hip whisky bar-cum- speakeasy about 100m from the market has no signage; look out instead for its reclaimed timber and polished concrete façade. The brainchild of two friends, Nathan Headlam and Brendan McCarthy, it’s stocked with more than 75 Japanese whiskeys and 45 Scottish single malts. There are also whiskey tastings, local beers and great cocktails on offer.
Despite its petite size, Tini manages to squeeze an art gallery (co-owned by artist/architect Thang Sothea), cocktail bar and a coffee machine (beans come from local roastery Feel Good). Pastries are available for breakfast, while spicy papaya salads, lot cha (fried noodles) and other street food are sourced from the nearby market stalls. The space also functions as a hub for Phnom Penh’s new wave of film directors, hosting workshops, readings and debates.
This article was originally published in the January 2018 issue of Silkwinds magazine.