Street 105, famed for its pungent sewage canal, is hardly the setting that comes to mind when thinking about where to have a meal. The area that links the upcoming Russian Market neighbourhood with the already upmarket Boeung Keng Kang could do with an upgrade.
That’s where Pujanyatan Yeung, or Our Restaurant in English, comes in. The restaurant is a bright, friendly affair, decorated by an orange awning strung with pretty fairy lights, and furnished with western style floor lamps and wooden tables and chairs. Since it opened around two months ago, the place has been crowded with young Cambodians.
In addition to the restaurant’s name on the awning, the menu is in Khmer. With a Cambodian friend, I ordered two traditional dishes to share: beef lok lak ($4) and barbecued beef steak ($4.50).
Both dishes came with a generous serving of rice, and raw vegetables: carrot, cucumber, green tomato and cabbage as well as spicy pickles and pepper and salt with lime juice for the meat.
The service was faultless: the lok lak arrived within ten minutes, and the steak soon after - but not before we’d finished, so I didn’t feel rushed. Our waitress installed a bucket of cold Angkor beers next to us and kept replenishing our glasses with the beer and large blocks of ice.
The lok lak was succulent and the beef steak also extremely tender: pink on the inside, juicy, but not underdone. When our waitress cut the steak, she revealed cloves of garlic pushed through the centre of the meat, giving a distinct punch to the taste.
Our Restaurant is a lovely place to dine: soft lighting gives it a homely feel, and the staff go at just the right pace. Christmas trees made from tinsel decorate the walls, and some of the staff were wearing reindeer horns and Santa hats. Cambodian pop music was playing; Spiderman 3 was broadcast from a TV screen on the back wall.
Srey Pou Moot, who opened the restaurant two months ago with her husband, said their idea was to cater to a growing number of Cambodians interested in a fancier dining experience. She said people are increasingly expecting a clean, homely setting like that of Our Restaurant - at affordable prices. Management is currently working on translating the menu into English - so soon it might not just be Cambodians enjoying this hidden gem.
#133, Street 105.