Feb 24 2011
Sometimes the best meals turn up in expected places. Koh Ta Kiev, a mostly-uninhabited island an hour away from Sihanoukville, is certainly not a place you’d imagine to find two chefs serving up homemade pastas, pastries and fondues without the benefit of electricity or running water, but that’s exactly what Ten 103 Treehouse Bay is doing.
Roberto, an Italian, and Joel, an American, met when they were both working in a restaurant in Italy. Joel, a trained chef, moved from Austin, Texas to Italy to learn about the food — he worked in a Michelin-starred restaurant there — after having worked in the Netherlands, France and Spain. Roberto, who goes by Popo, was a trained Italian pastry chef who spent his days making cakes. After five years in Italy, Joel decided to move to Cambodia to take over the now-defunct Jonty’s Jungle Camp. With the camp renamed and upgraded, he and Popo have brought an unexpected gourmet twist to jungle living.
Their regular menu has a lot in common with every beachside menu in Sihanoukville, but their daily specials are where you’ll find real culinary delights. The specials are often pasta, made from scratch, which they serve with the red wine that they bring on their daily visits to the shore to restock supplies. Not all of their culinary masterpieces are of the Italian kind — they have Mexican nights where they make their own tortillas and also offer Greek-inspired menus that include baba ganoush and tzatziki.
Food and drink are one of the defining characteristics of the place, despite the fact that there’s no electricity or running water. Meals are cooked while it’s still light out using butane gas and they’ve dug a well to supply fresh water for cooking. Ice is brought from the mainland every day to keep food cold and they’ve recently built a wood-burning oven in the middle of their jungle camp for baking breads, pies, pastries and pizzas. The daily specials are usually $7-$9 and are large enough to make you want to have a nap on their special sunset-viewing platform afterwards.
Koh Ta Kiev is often included on many of the Sihanoukville island day trips, but isn’t usually the spot they stop at for lunch. If you’d like to try the Ten 103 daily special, and spend the afternoon on the beach, you have a few options. You can book with them to stay in a treehouse bungalow or hammock for a night, or you can make a day trip. Day trips can be easily arranged by any of the travel agents in Sihanoukville, or just show up at the dock on Serendipity Beach to book a boat directly. Sunshine Cafe on Otres Beach also arrange island trips that are a touch cooler than the rest, and they specifically make a point to stop at Ten 103 for lunch. However you decide to get there, it’s worth a visit.
Ten 103 Treehouse Bay, Koh Ta Kiev. T: (017) 662 015 http://www.ten103.com
Sunshine Cafe Otres Beach, Sihanoukville. T: (012) 828 432 Open daily, 9:00-late.
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