It’s not hard to find somewhere in Phnom Penh to tuck into some sushi or a bowl of miso soup, but if you’re after authentic Japanese cuisine – and some of the best salmon and vegetable soup you’ll ever try – there’s only one place to go: Ashima at No 336C on Monivong Boulevard.
Ashima chef Chhean Sophal, who doubles as the restaurant’s manager, picked some of his favourite dishes on the menu and spoke to the Post about their flavour, health benefits and top-notch ingredients.
“Here, we treat our customers with extra care,” Sophal said. “Our waiters are deeply knowledgeable about every item on our menu and is willing to take the time to explain the ingredients and taste of each.
“Eating at Ashima is like an experience from another time. You can eat slowly, letting the flavours of ancient Japan excite your taste buds and the healthy ingredients assist your digestion – which, indeed, may be the most important factor.”
Sophal first prepared some mouth-wateringly fresh vegetables, salmon, tuna and nishin fish with beef. He then served up some rich vegetable soup with mushroom – the key ingredient is the variety of mushroom, in this case, morchella. After that, some black chicken soup and another vegetable dish was on the menu, followed by dessert. The restaurant also stocks Japanese alcohol and French wine to make any occasion a little bit more special.
“Most of the specialties at Ashima are focused on health,” Sophal said. “This is done by ensuring the highest quality ingredients. This is what truly makes us different; it is what our brand is built on. Everything we cook with is organic and almost 100 per cent of our ingredients are imported from Japan.
“One of the mushrooms we use is the Morchella Esculenta or morel mushroom. It is one of the ingredients we are proudest to use. It is imported from Japan at great expense, but it’s worth it, because its health benefits are so great – especially for men. In particular, it is beneficial for kidneys and veins, and for those who want to have kids.”
Matsutake mushrooms are also a frequently used ingredient in Ashima recipes. The mushrooms are widely regarded in Japan as one of the best things you can eat to strengthen your body and help you be more active.
“We also use field mushrooms, which are renowned as a bringer of longevity,” Sophal added.
And don’t forget to order some seafood.
“Our salmon is imported alive direct from Norway. Our nishin is rich in protein, which is a great boost for your health. Both also help to reduce cholesterol and fat levels. And our beef is imported from Japan and Australia.”
Ashima has something to satisfy the young ones, too, with special kids set lunches for $5 to $7 each. To order call 023 801 222.
Ashima was founded in 2005 by a Japanese entrepreneur doing business in Vietnam. Today, the restaurant has branches from Hanoi to Japan to Cambodia. It has won legions of loyal customers for its healthy and delicious natural mushroom hotpot and other specialties. In total, the collection of Ashima includes natural and valued mushrooms from Japan, Korea and Shangrila, such as matsutake, termitomyces, boletus edulis, oletus pallidu. Aside from the food, Ashima also serves up an exotic atmosphere and friendly service.
Ashima’s core values:
• Delicious and healthy meals low in cholesterol
• Value for money
• Professional, enthusiastic and friendly service.