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Despite having its name plucked from a dead language, Nova may succeed in becoming one of the capital’s livelier venues after its grand opening next month. Photograph: Joseph Pocs/Phnom Penh Post

Another watering hole has materialised in central Phnom Penh, on Street 214, and it may reduce rather than increase the spasms of choice anxiety that are accompanying the mushrooming of venues.

Its called Nova, which in Latin means “new”, but despite having its named plucked from a dead language the club-lounge-bar may become a lively destination: word-of-mouth was enough to draw more than 200 people to its unofficial opening last Saturday.

Its Khmer-French director Khemera Ngy describes it as a “place is for beautiful, party people”, but insists at the same time that it is not a breeding ground for the ostentatious. Time will tell whether he has hit the mark with wide-ranging appeal, but the menu is a good omen. Drinks are plentiful with prices ranging US$4 for spirit-mixers to $220 for French champagne. It’s up to you whether or not a visit will cost an arm and a leg.

“ We want Nova to embody the level of service and high standards that would be found at similar establishments in Paris, London and Sydney,” says its artistic director Marco Antony. Operations manager Oliver Granier says he spent six weeks training bar staff.

Doors open at 9pm and each night the two in-house DJs fuse ambient lounge tunes and hip-hop with electric and mainstream beats that will get you moving on the dance floor or the bar top, which has been treated with cement-wax for that very purpose. The neutral colour scheme and geometric décor are softened by violet and taupe velvet lounges that invite intimacy: there’s no need for lip-reading or inaudible hollering amidst what is unquestionably a rather sophisticated milieu.

Nova also has a bit of a dress code. Flip flops are a no-no. “Guests will need to dress appropriately,” Ngy says. The club is also committed to avoiding overcrowding. “Unlike many clubs [in Phnom Penh], if we’ve reached capacity [250 people] we’ll turn guests away. We want people to feel comfortable, not congested,” Ngy says.

Nova’s grand opening is scheduled for early next month. For the rest of this month there’s a 20 per cent discount on drinks and canapes.



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