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Edamame: easy budget Japanese

Clockwise from the top: cold ramen, salmon sashimi, truffle edamame and tuna sashimi.
Clockwise from the top: cold ramen, salmon sashimi, truffle edamame and tuna sashimi. Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

Edamame: easy budget Japanese

There is a right way to eat edamame – with beer or sake, on a warm summer’s night – at least, so says Kenji Tamura, 32, one of the owners of the recently opened Japanese restaurant Edamame.

Having opened in mid-June the casual izakaya-style diner serves up typical Japanese fare, such as ramen, sushi and rice. Although its namesake, edamame – immature soybeans in the pod that are boiled and then salted – is what Kenji and his partners hope will bring customers in the door and introduce them to the world of Japanese cuisine.

The restaurant serves up three variations of edamame: plain, with truffle oil and pepper, or garlic and chilli. You can order three different sizes, but the 160-gram portion ($2.50 to $3.75) is a generous appetiser plate for two or three.

“In Japan, we eat edamame in summertime. Cambodia is very hot, and everybody likes beer, so I want to recommend edamame [to Cambodians],” said Tessai Takada, 26, the CEO of their restaurant and company.

Tamura and Takada run Edamame with three other Japanese expatriates with whom they operate their primary business, Trust & True Global Links, a company which specialises in pest control, but recently has moved into food import-export, which may be reassuring to customers at their new restaurant venture.

Takada was also previously involved with the Japanese restaurant Jidaiya when it first opened four years ago, but left that business two years ago.

Edamame, however, isn’t styled to be a fancy sit-down restaurant. Tamura said they modelled it after the Japanese concept of an izakaya – a casual pub where people unwind after work with good, but affordable, food and a drink.

“[It’s] a place where there’s sake, beer – you can eat easily, not like high class. For example, [where] a businessman goes with his co-workers, just to go for a drink,” Tamura said.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
L to R: Kenji Tamura, chef Ven Yadath and Tessai Takada. Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

As such, the menu has a lot of the classic items such as tuna and salmon sashimi, which, at $3 for a portion of four slices, is hard to beat. Tamura and Takada’s recommendations, other than the edamame, include the cold ramen ($4), the California roll ($5.75), and the seared salmon with mayonnaise roll ($4.75).

What’s more, Tamura said, the a-la-carte menu will likely evolve over time featuring weekly specials and items based on popular demand as it typically does at casual diners back home in Japan. Customers can also order other dishes on request, he added, and the restaurant will accommodate.

While the cooks themselves are Cambodian, the authenticity of the food’s flavour is guaranteed “from our taste”, Tamura said with a laugh.

Tamura hopes that the restaurant will also entice Cambodians who might otherwise be put off by the perception of Japanese food as expensive, and hopes that through the food, a chance for cultural exchange might flourish.

“[We want] Cambodians to come here, they tell their friends, their friend comes, and they tell their friends,” Tamura, said, adding that he’d like to host Japanese language classes there as well.

“We want Cambodians to know more about Japanese culture.”

Edamame is located on #165 Sothearos Boulevard, just opposite Aeon Mall. Open everyday from 11am-2am. 077 863 117 / 096 402 49 59

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