Jun 05 2012
Two minutes from Independence Monument and wrapping the corner of Golden Street (St 278) you’ll find the Khmer-owned Samaky Restaurant and Lounge, a recently new addition to this popular Phnom Penh street.
The ground floor restaurant doesn’t have much in the way of walls but still provides plenty of protection from the elements (research undertaken during a monsoon afternoon of sipping tea and nattering over cake confirms this). Oscillating fans and funky lampshades hang from the ceiling over pale wooden tables easily pushed together for bigger groups. If you choose a smaller streetside table you can people-watch in secret, shielded by tropical planting that runs around the perimeter.
The well-padded rounded wooden chairs and sofas make it easy to settle in, or choose the upstairs cushion lounge for a very laid-back dining experience. Things move at a relaxed pace here — you won’t feel pressured to order, or to leave as soon as you’ve finished eating.
Fortunately, this easy-breezy attitude doesn’t extend to the food. The menu offers a choice of Khmer dishes and Western favourites, with specials such as steaks and locally caught snapper under US$10. Thought has been given to vegetarians, with a reasonable selection of meat-free possibilities. The US$5 build-your-own salads are popular, probably because the choices include ingredients like asparagus, avocado, poached egg and real bacon. And maybe we’re romantic suckers, but steamed rice and mashed potatoes served in the shape of a heart — how cute?
Due to its handy location, Samaky attracts repeat custom from peckish tourists staying around the Independence Monument. The happy hour cocktails and 75 cent draft beer regularly bring in groups of friends starting their evening out. The food is reasonable value for money, comparable with other restaurants on Street 278, but penny-pinchers will prefer to look elsewhere.
The unmissably green Herb Cafe opposite is another fine spot for observations, with a view of monk comings and goings at Wat Langka. On the next corner down Street 51, Flavours also has an open-sided setup and is a decent alternative if you’re after Western food and prepared to pay over US$5. Those with smaller budgets should cross over Sihanouk Boulevard to explore the Khmer menu at Ratanakiri Restaurant.
Samaky Restaurant and Lounge
Corner of Street 51 and 278, Phnom Penh
T: 070 600017
Travelfish.org always pays its way. No exceptions.