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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Playground dining at theatrical Ka Ka Suki Soup

‘An obvious criticism is the speed of the sushi train’: tasty dishes come at great speed at Ka Ka Suki Soup.
‘An obvious criticism is the speed of the sushi train’: tasty dishes come at great speed at Ka Ka Suki Soup. PHA LINA

Playground dining at theatrical Ka Ka Suki Soup

Koh Pich dining, in all its barbecued, deep fried, fairy-lit forms, is a fast and shiny experience best enjoyed with as many people as possible. From burger joints and barbecue chicken to Americana-inspired soft-serve salons – once you’re ensconced, the novelty is hard to resist.

Ka Ka Suki Soup, near the Twin Dragons bridge, is a bright addition to the city’s ever-growing entertainment island (and abundant hot pot trade) and combines two popular drawcards: family-friendly dining and bubblegum-flavoured ‘freshie’ style.

The theatre of it is fun. Fitted with lime green booths, whizzing sushi trains and picture panels of clean-cut teens enjoying suki-induced good times, the floor is teeming with costumed staff when I visit with a large group of ladies in tow.

The restaurant has a booth area, a buffet section and bar-dining with individual stoves. A circuitous suki train snakes around the whole dining floor, manned by uniformed waiters in green satin and cute chefs hats, with sweeping haircuts. The Ka Ka uniform, like K-pop itself, doesn’t allow nearly as much outré statement for its female waiters, who have to wear peasant blouses and satin skirts.

An obvious criticism of Ka Ka is the speed of the sushi train, which is disastrous for indecisive diners. Don’t umm and ahh over a little plate of prawns, just grab it before the express train carries it off to the next table. Maybe you can put it back later.

Luckily, the mood of my companions is to snatch every dish that passes: whole eggs, soft tofu, liver, crabs, straw mushrooms, more liver.

Our soup, which starts off as a mild broth in a divided stainless steel pot, becomes a meat-prawn-poultry stock enriched with fish balls.

Like Shabu-Shabu, the popular and similarly flash “train” franchise, Ka Ka uses a plate system to calculate prices. The ingredients are a cut above Shabu and a little closer to the Japanese sukiyaki: finely sliced beef, raw egg, many types of slippery, slurpy mushrooms. Pork, wrapped around veggies, and fresh prawns are a highlight.

If you tire of soup, which is intermittently refilled and could go on forever, the buffet has an appealing array of fried noodles and vegetables – as well as a few tired looking and tasting deep fried meat morsels such as crumbed prawns. I’ll admit I didn’t try the sushi out of squeamishness.

Self-serve soft drinks and ice cream are a winner with almost everyone, and the buffet also has fresh fruit for dessert.

Once everyone has had their fill of soup and new customers begin eyeing our neon booth, I look out at the dining room floor, through which the train is moving incessantly in both directions, like home-made scenery sets in an amateur opera. On YouTube there is a clip of the Ka Ka Suki waiters all doing a choreographed dance that looks a little like the YMCA, but it doesn’t happen while I’m there. I thank them for their service before I pay the bill - and exit stage right.

Ka Ka Suki Soup, next to Twin Dragon Bridge, Koh Pich.

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