Dec 28 2012
Q&A isn’t the only bookshop in Sihanoukville, but it’s the only bookshop cafe in town. If you’re a book lover, that alone makes taking the time to find it down at the bottom of Mithona Street at Ochheuteal beach worth it, but you’ll find a solid collection of more than 8,000 books and a nice environment for curling up with one of them over coffee or a meal.
Q&A was a bit off the radar when it was set up at its old location on Ekareach Street in 2003, so as soon as land titles were sorted out at Ochheuteal and long-term leases became available in 2009, they relocated to a new location opposite the GBT (formerly called GST) guesthouse restaurant. It was a good move not just for business, but for their customers as well. The new Q&A is much more spacious and relaxing than the old location on Sihanoukville’s busiest road.
Founded by Australian book lover Andy and his Vietnamese wife Lee, Q&A has had nearly 10 years to collect a library of quality books and put together a unique menu of Vietnamese, Khmer and Western dishes that appeal to just about every taste, culture and budget. Books start at $1.00, but if your budget is really tight or you’ve found one you’ll knock off in a day or two, you can even rent books for as little as 25 cents a day. If you’ve got a stack of books that have been weighing down your backpack, you can sell some and exchange others — a perfect way to lighten your load without leaving yourself bereft of books.
Negotiating Q&A’s menu can actually be trickier than finding a good book or negotiating a fair price exchange. The best deal on the menu is their Saturday night $2.00 pho bo special and, at least in this reviewer’s opinion, all the Vietnamese dishes are the best value dinners on the menu. Given the fact that Lee and some of her family run the restaurant, this stands to reason, but Andy’s Australian predilections have not been completely ignored. Aside from light-but-tasty toasted sandwiches starting at $2.00, there’s good old fashioned Aussie fish and chips on the menu for $5.00 or more posh chicken cordon bleu for $6.00.
Q&A is a bookshop first, though, and readers will appreciate their extensive coffee menu that starts with Vietnamese style caphe for $1.00 and works its way up to fancier coffee drinks like a caramel cafe latte for $1.75 or a $2.00 ice cream latte. Any of these goes well with a good book or you can take advantage of their free WiFi and catch up with friends back home while getting your caffeine fix. If you’ve already overdosed on caffeine or you need something to keep the kids occupied while you browse for books, their $1.50 spiders are highly recommended.
Q&A has a sign outside, but it’s not as prominent as those of some of its neighbours and can be easy to miss. As you’re walking down Mithona Street from the top of Serendipity Road, it’s on your right a few doors down from the big supermarket and just next door to BamBula. They open at 07:30 and close at 23:00, giving you time to grab a book before boarding a bus or a boat in the morning or something to read at night.
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