Phnom Penh's Street 240 and a Half

What we say: 3.5 stars

Street 240 is one of Phnom Penh‘s magnet streets for tourists and expats: a destination for eating, drinking and shopping away from the sweaty endurance event that is a Cambodian market. Tucked in an alleyway around a corner is a secret extension where you can find organic food, funky shopping and Japanese kitsch. Welcome to Street 240 and a Half.

Not Diagon Alley, it's Street 240 and a Half

Not Diagon Alley, it’s Street 240 and a Half.

Likely to put you in mind of the Laines in Brighton or Melbourne’s Fitzroy, this compact one-alley version began with ARTillery. Opened in early 2012, they are purveyors of tasty organic food and hosts of Sunday markets, drink and draw evenings and street parties. It’s a popular place to start the day over a quiet breakfast, or hide away with a coconut and lime smoothie for a natter with a good friend. Following the laws of economics, sure enough, one good business attracted another. The bijou strip is now home to a few businesses worth a detour from Street 240 proper.

Paper Dolls‘ flyer promises “blingy and quirky” and does it best to fulfill the adjectives. Their shop appears to have suffered an explosion of accessories. Walk into a wild selection of handbags, funky jewellery, one-off dresses and frighteningly high platform shoes. The occasional torso-less head, white plastic rabbit and pink flamingo on sticks put you in mind of Alice on a particularly odd day in Wonderland.

Down the rabbit hole ...

Down the rabbit hole …

Next door, Pleasure restaurant and boutique are not shy about colour. The bright pink walls are crawling with metal geckos and you’re encouraged to get comfy on the vibrant silk cushions at sunflower yellow tables. There’s a cheap menu of Asian favourites — including pho, spring rolls, tom yum and koh ko, a Khmer soup — at an average of $2.50 per dish. There’s no need to stop shopping, as you can browse their range of cute T-shirts, dresses and accessories while you wait for your order.

Closest to the road, the Japanese Thrift shop is a secondhand delight of Nippon taste. There are several branches around town, but this one is best for plates, boxed tea sets, stacked rice bowls and oddly compelling kitshy 1970s style prints. Have a good rummage until you find the bento box or silk doll you just have to have.

A treasure trove of kitsch and odd

A treasure trove of kitsch and odd.

Just around the corner, Bar Sito (which means Little Bar in Spanish) is easier to walk past than it is to walk out of. The discreet entrance is only marked by a small plaque. Tiny and dark, with the wood panelling and exposed brickwork, the ambiance seems rather at odds with the street outside when you first step in. After a cocktail or three, however, you may well have forgotten about the wider world entirely. The lighting and lack of windows means you can easily spend three hours in here when you think it’s only been 30 minutes. Set your alarm or just lose yourself in Phnom Penh time.

ARTillery Cafe
Street 240 1/2 (off Street 240), Phnom Penh
T: 078 985 530

Pleasure Restaurant & Boutique
#82 Street 240 1/2 (off Street 240), Phnom Penh
T: (016) 359 710
Open 08:00-22:00

Paper Dolls
#82 Street 240 1/2 (off Street 240), Phnom Penh
T: (016) 620 908

Bar Sito
Street 240 1/2 (off Street 240), Phnom Penh


Last updated: 19th September, 2014

About the author:
Abigail has been stoned by villagers in India, become an honorary Kenyan tribeswoman, sweet talked border guards and had close encounters with black mambas. Her motto is: “Live to tell the tale.”
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