Ku Kai

Best Japanese in town

What we say: 4 stars

Hidden down a nondescript side street in downtown Sihanoukville, Ku Kai offers the best Japanese cuisine you'll find in town and it's very affordable as well.

Really. Its a restaurant. I swear.

Really. It’s a restaurant. I swear.

When we say “hidden” we mean “hidden”. You may read it’s across from the restaurant Sovady, but Sovady has long been closed. Google Maps pinpoints its location downtown near Phsar Lue Market, which also turns out to be false. But if you’re up to the challenge of finding Ku Kai, you will be rewarded with a flavoursome yet cheap Japanese feast.

Their menu has offerings like marinated deep-fried fish (US$2.75), eggplant with grated radish and ginger (US$2) and braised pork and potato (US$4), along with more traditional offerings like prawn tempura (US$4.75) and pork katsu (US$4.75.) They also have daily fish sashimi choices (US$2.50-$3) which are so fresh they taste like they’ve jumped from the ocean directly to your plate.

Fried Eggplant with Grated Daikon

Fried eggplant with grated daikon.

The braised pork belly (US$4) we ordered came to the table glistening and looking succulent. It was fall-apart tender, and could well have been the best pork belly we’ve ever had; we can also recommend the fried eggplant with minced pork (US$2.75.) Portion sizes are large and we wound up taking some home with us.

If you are unsure what to try, ask the staff. Many are Japanese and can give you good advice on their most popular dishes.

Set for a Japanese King (or Queen)

Set for a Japanese king (or queen).

Ku Kai has an elegant and romantic ambience; it would be the perfect choice for a quiet date night. The music is slow and relaxing, a good match for the minimalist Japanese decor. Beige walls are accented by dark wooden furniture and a few potted plants. A little play area with games is available for children, so parents can leave them to play while enjoying their meal.

The main chunk of Ku Kai’s business comes from Japanese tourists and a few long-term expats. Despite their lack of advertising or helpful signage, they do a good business and it might be best to call ahead for a reservation. A number of tables had reserved signs when we were there and we saw a couple get turned away.

So now you know how good this place is, let’s talk about finding it. Your best bet is to come from one of two directions. If you are leaving the Occheuteal beach area and heading towards downtown, make a left at the first traffic light, which has a Tela petrol station on the corner. Go straight and it’s the first building on the right after you pass a cross street. If you go over a speed bump or pass the London General Knowledge School, then you just missed it.

Sign is the big rock on the left of the screen. No problem to find right?

We guess the sign says Ku Kai.

The other option, if you are coming from Victory Hill or downtown, is to make a right at the Total petrol station near Samadera Market. Then you make your second left and go straight for a while. Ku Kai is on your left immediately following the two speed bumps and the London General Knowledge School. If you pass a cross street after the speed bumps, then you went too far.

Don’t feel bad if you miss it a couple of times; I called the restaurant to ask where it was, then drove past it twice, and called again when I was basically right across the street from it– it looks a lot like a house rather than a restaurant. It’s hidden behind a gate and the tiny sign comprised of two Japanese characters is carved into a rock; they haven’t painted the characters a different colour than the rock, so you probably won’t even notice it unless you are standing right in front of it.

Contact details
144 7 Makara St
T: (012) 593 339
Open: Tues-Sun 17:00-21:00
About the author
Brett spends his time relaxing on the beach while sipping on a mojito or exploring Cambodia and Laos looking for strange and unusual things.

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Ku Kai
144 7 Makara St
T: (012) 593 339

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