The family hotpot-style restaurant Master Suki Soup has opened its ninth restaurant in Cambodia, on Sothearos Boulevard adjacent to Hun Sen Park, with the newly relocated German Fresh Beer brew pub and German menu upstairs.
The soft opening took place on Thursday night as Master Suki Soup Co Ltd Managing Director Ly Seng Khong joined members of his family along with German architect Rainer Striffler and partner Virabouth Khieu of 2form, who came up with the concept of making the relationship between the two distinct atmospheres, upstairs and downstairs.
The idea is that the bright, white and orange Master Suki Soup restaurant downstairs enjoys compatibility and common family characteristics with darker and blue-lit German Fresh Beer atmosphere upstairs.
“In the evening at dinner time people can come upstairs to enjoy the drinks and live band every day until 2am,” Striffler said.
Even at Thursday’s soft opening, guests packed both the upstairs and downstairs.
“This location is special, and it is necessary that you can sit outside. Of course, there must be an area inside too. It is a little bit like a lobby for the family karaoke. The stairs divides the areas. With the Master Suki Soup, the concept is more Cambodian; while here on top it is an international area.”
An unusual feature of the upstairs German Fresh Beer brew pub area, adjacent to the breezy deck and bar overlooking Hun Sen Park, are 10 family karaoke rooms beyond the indoor dining area where people can take the kids and sing songs together, perhaps after a Master Suki Soup birthday party downstairs.
Managing Director Ly Seng Khong said he wanted to make a place of safety for families that enabled karaoke for the whole family, distinct from the usual Cambodian karaoke paradigm with pretty girls and heavy drinking.
“Here is a safe place to bring your family,” Ly Seng Khong said.
He originally brought the concept of Master Suki Soup to Cambodia after studying Thai restaurants like MK Suki in Thailand. He knew there was a Cambodian tradition of beef soup, so he named his franchise Master Suki Soup.
Ly Seng Khong’s restaurants, including six Master Grill outlets, one of which will open shortly adjacent to the new Master Suki Soup on Sothearos, together employ more than 500 people.
He opened the first Master Suki Soup in 1996.
“Now it is very hard to find staff, because they go to work in Thailand,” he said.
While the Master Suki Soup restaurant is open all day, from 7am including service for noodle breakfast and coffee, Ly Seng Khong says the Cambodian tendency is to focus on going out for dinner.
“We mostly sell at night time because people think soup is only for dinner. Cambodian people eat lunch and then sleep. They don’t want to go out. In the evening time everybody goes out and they ask where are we going to eat?”
He says staff training is a key challenge because most people want to go to work right away.
The grand opening for the new place is scheduled for Thursday, July 19.
Ly Seng Khong took over German Fresh Beer from an associate a year and a half ago. This opening marks the moving of that business just down the same street and combining it with Master Suki Soup.
“German Fresh Beer is here for tourists. I would like this to be the first choice for tourists who come to Cambodia.”
The brew pub produces two types of beer, stout and gold. The upstairs restaurant offers pizza, Thai and European food, including German pork leg, and German sausages, escargot, Lyonnais salad and duck legs, ranging in price from $9 to $11. Other fare includes onion soup, baked mussels and German salad.
Architect Rainer Striffler said the upstairs area made an ideal beer garden, where Cambodians and Europeans could easily share the space.
“I come from Bavaria where you sit together with people you never met, and you drink together. In Cambodia, the tradition is different. The family comes and eats, but they don’t talk to other people. This is a point because the foreigners and Cambodian guests are mixed here and they want to know something about each other.”
Striffler said at the German Oktoberfest you could sit with Japanese and Chinese people, singing together, but that Cambodia did not yet have that tradition.
“It can start here and the people can communicate more,” he said.
The Master Suki Soup and German Fresh Beer on Sothearos open daily from 7am to 2am.
To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Alan Becker at [email protected]