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Luxurious lounge set to carve out its own identity

The interior is a slick space with low lighting
The interior is a slick space with low lighting. KIMBERLEY MCCOSKER

Luxurious lounge set to carve out its own identity

The latest venture from the owners of Riverside bistro Metro has the same sophisticated feel, but a more international focus

The team behind flashy Riverside bistro Metro has set up its newest eatery among the nightclubs and cafes on buzzing Street 214. With its luxurious lounge setting and high-end fusion menu, the Mara Restaurant and Lounge has brought its predecessor’s sophisticated atmosphere and food to a new part of town.

The interior has the same chic atmosphere that has become the signature of Metro – dark blue lighting, soft ambient music and a cocktail list among the most elaborate in Phnom Penh. But the aim, said Mara’s general manager, Jean-Luc Baraton, is to set the new place apart with a more European flavour.

“The food in [Metro] is very Khmer-orientated – 80 per cent of the food is Khmer,” he said, adding that while the menu at Mara is currently much the same, there would shortly be an “evolution” to a more Western-themed cuisine.

“In the end, you won’t be able to recognise the food as native to Metro.”

The green peppercorn steak combines a bit of East and West, with USDA-grade steak from America combined with Kampot peppercorn sauce ($24). Cooked rare, it’s tender and juicy with a peppery kick.

Fried rice on the wok
Fried rice on the wok. KIMBERLEY MCCOSKER

The restaurant’s lamb shank ($16) had also proven popular during the first week, said Baraton.

“We get tons of compliments for it – we have a way of cooking it in which the meat just falls off the bone very easily,” he said.

Baraton said the menu would also absorb some of the sushi and sashimi that was formerly served at the now-closed Rahu, which was also owned by the Metro team.

The lounge’s glitzy presentation is not unlike Nova Club across the street, and Baraton said he hopes to attract a similar crowd after the sun sets. Late night dance parties may become the norm provided the neighbours don’t mind.

“Mornings are more like expats, and evening is more young Khmer partying,” he said, adding that he plans to bring in DJs and bands for weekend parties.

The long-drink menu includes enough tipples to keep even a jaded party animal interested, including tamarind martinis ($5.50) and a mix of tequila, cognac and Tiger beer called the Golden Triangle ($4.50).

Baraton admitted that the restaurant, which opened late last month, is still a work in progress, as it aims to continue differentiating itself from its sister restaurant while retaining its popularity.

“It’s in the same spirit [as Metro],” he said.

“But this one is going to move on to be a different thing altogether, especially the food.”

Mara Restaurant and Lounge is located at #16A/B Street 214. Open from 10am-2am.

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