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Rahu roars in

Gyoza were one of the standout dishes at Rahu. Photo by: AVLXYZ

Metro is one of Riverside’s most popular venues but its little sister might just have upped the stakes

HAS anyone ever sprinted, shrieking with terror, from the Louvre in Paris?

Why anyone would react in such a way to the most visited art museum in the world may be beyond comprehension for many people. Unwelcome recollection of Dan Brown’s behemoth of sub-par fiction The Da Vinci Code, perhaps? Notoriously stuffy museum attendants bof-ing with a little too much Gallic contempt?

For me, the number one reason to exit the Musée du Louvre in a rush of sweaty panic would be the notorious eyes of the Mona Lisa. The disconcerting way they seem to follow anyone who crosses her path engenders an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. It just does.

Of course, it is simply an illusion, created by the fact that Mona is gazing directly at the painter. But that doesn’t stop it being flat out scary. So imagine my terror when confronted with Rahu, the swanky new offshoot of Metro, located a few blocks further north on Riverside.

It is comfortably one of Phnom Penh’s most upscale new spaces; all dim lighting, inviting chairs and concrete walls in a fashionably dulled tone of charcoal. Yet there is just one problem: the huge portrait of a young Cambodian boy which dominates the bar area. His is a glare that could strike fear into the heart of Ted Bundy.

To the new restaurant cum bar’s credit, though, the devil-child is perhaps the only complaint my partner and I could muster. Rahu has one of the best drinks selections in Phnom Penh; the fact there are 16 different martinis ($4.10 to $6.80) on the menu is a perfect indication of the choice on offer.

The food menu is split into small and large plates, with the latter ranging from $8.50 to $21. Deciding to stick with an assortment of the smaller offerings, the first to arrive, along with the prerequisite wasabi and ginger, were the kimchi pork maki rolls ($3.50). The six plump rolls represented a bargain at that price and the inclusion of meat instead of fish in a “sushi” dish offered an interesting, and tasty, variation. The kimchi flavour was subtle enough for anybody to enjoy, whatever their opinion on the pungent Korean staple, and it would prove difficult for the chefs at Rahu to match such an excellent start to the meal.

They almost pulled it off with the gyoza ($3.50), which arrived next. The four succulent dumplings were covered in diced mushrooms and a sauce which could be deemed a little overbearing by some but found favour with this reviewer, being a big fan of anything salty, sweet and rich.

The garlic bacon green beans ($2.50) were served piping hot, with a more than liberal smattering of garlic. The bacon bits straddled the fine line between undercooked and burnt to a crisp with the skill of a veteran highwire artiste – it is a dish which delivers exactly what it promises.

Metro mini burgers ($5) provided a brief American interlude to a menu that focuses largely on Asian dishes and they were a quirky addition to our evening. Served around a portion of fries, it would serve as a great lunch for five bucks of anyone’s money, or perhaps even a small dinner. The three little fellows were topped with mushrooms, tomatoes and a dollop of barbecue sauce, and managed to provide a meaty kick despite their stature and buns which were a little too crispy.

The crab fried rice ($4.50) was last onto the table, served wrapped inside an impossibly thin omelette. It was one of the more impressive presentations of a basic fried rice dish I have come across. Flaky morsels of crab were joined in the mix by plenty of sweetcorn but, essentially, there is only so much that can be done with fried rice and Rahu had ticked all of the boxes.

After paying the excellent staff, a quick thought popped into my partner’s mind and we promptly ordered a second portion of kimchi pork maki rolls to take away. Few higher compliments can be paid to any dish and it seemed like an occasion where midnight munchies would be the order of the day. After all, looking at that painting all evening is easily enough to render sleep an impossibility.



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