At many seafood restaurants, diners get to pick their dish from crowded tanks, filled with a selection of fish and crustaceans crammed together like passengers in a London tube train. But if your stomach is empty and your pockets are full, the newly opened Fishermen Village is a more sporting option. The fishery cum restaurant opened last Saturday, and provides patrons with a rod and an all-day pass to a 25-by-5-metre pool.
Koy Le San, the owner of Fishermen Village, told 7Days that the large freshwater prawns are fed and housed according to Singaporean techniques.
“We tested the techniques about a month ago. I’ve also had help from the co-owner, Nang Sokti, who is the expert on setting the hydrogen levels,” he said.
“You can either cook them yourself or give it to the chef to cook for you. You will be charged only for your yield, not for the cooking.”
The restaurant is on Street 8, near Chroy Changva high school and the Japanese Friendship Bridge, and also provides coffee, soft drink, cocktails and karaoke. The prawns are sourced from markets in Takeo, Prey Veng, and Phnom Penh, where they sell for roughly $15 to $20 per kilogram.
At Fishermen Village, punters are charged according to their yield – prawns cost $25 per kilo and redfish go for 30,000 riel each. The target crowd for the restaurant is upper class Khmer people, with big appetites and the urge to catch their own food.
But despite being a first time angler, I decided to give fishing a go and see what I could reel in.
At first, it looked like I might come away with nothing. Every time I dipped my line into the pool, the prawns swam up and ate the bait, but I always yanked the line up too quickly to hook any.
In the first hour, despite the background noise of my fellow anglers cheering every new haul, I pulled my line in 10 times with no result. But luckily, one of the foreign fishermen took pity on me, and with unclear pronunciation he guided me through the process. He said I needed to be more patient, and stay with the prawn while it devours the bait.
Using his professional technique, I switched to a lower gear and started trying to string the prawn along. When one started nibbling on the bait, I let it continue until it began trying harder and harder to escape. Eventually I pulled up the rod and hauled it in, noticing it had my hook triumphantly piercing its mouth.
“Sometimes catching a prawn is just based on your luck,” said Koy Le San, above the sound of punters raucously celebrating a catch.
“But I think it’s easier than catching normal fish.”