Search

Search form

A health-kick uncovers fishy delights

A health-kick uncovers fishy delights

13 Mackerel

In a recent attempt to change my life, I cut my hair, changed my sheets and decided to give up carbs. The beer belly had to go, but I wasn’t sure where in Phnom Penh I could escape the rice trail.

Luckily, there’s Russian Market. One corner is home to a handful of small seafood barbecues. They’re all decent, but one – the restaurant right in the middle – is exceptional.  

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Grilled prawns need not be adorned with anything else. They’re rubbed with garlic and chilli. Photograph: Ruth Keber/Phnom Penh Post

Dining there is more than a meal; it’s a culinary experience. You sit on the plastic chairs and wait, watching  squid, prawns, stingray and clams, beautifully fresh and seasoned with a sauce of garlic chilli and sugar, sizzle above the charcoal fire. It smells of the ocean.

Rightly or wrongly, I take popularity as an indicator of cleanliness. Whenever I’m there for dinner, the place is packed: groups of men, women and couples giggle together, feasting and licking their fingers. Shiny cutlery is kept in Tupperware, and servers wear disposable plastic gloves.

It looks so clean, in fact, that I usually dare to order oysters as a starter. Just 1,500 riel apiece, they go well with the raw veggies on ice.

The real treats, however, are the mains, which come straight from the grill. Small portions go for 5,000 riel, and are a great size for sharing (big are 10,000).

The mackerel is a revelation. It comes wrapped in tinfoil, covered in ginger and some fried onions. The ginger and onion had drawn into the fish and gave it a subtle aromatic note that unfolded when the tender and yet al dente meat fell into flakes on my tongue. Needs absolutely nothing to go with it.  

The prawns are delicious: juicy, thanks to the garlic-chilli sugar-glazing, and perfectly soft. The squid manages to be both delicate and crispy, especially on the tentacles, which are guzzled with a satisfying crunch.

One warning: don’t come for the mini stingrays, which suffer from a chalky taste that I imagine somewhat akin to limestone.

The little place with the four high-heeled waitresses has become my regular. The service is attentive and personal - a real pleasure in the chaotic hustle and bustle of Tuol Tompoung. ​​​​​​

Street 450, restaurant in the middle under the market canopy, open from 5pm.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all