One of the well-known Chinese restaurants in Phnom Penh is the Old Place Seafood Restaurant at 403-405 Monivong Boulevard, where specialties like traditional Chinese New Year turnip cake can be had for $6.
According to restaurant captain Lay Laing Eng, who has worked her way up from waitress over the course of eight years, Chinese New Year is a busy time.
“We are busy every day for Chinese New Year. A lot of the Chinese people work at Chinese-owned factories in Phnom Penh,” she said.
“We see a lot of Malaysian and Hong Kong Chinese and when they finish work they come here for dinner.”
In addition to the turnip cake and other specialties for Chinese New Year enthusiasts to bring home, Old Place, or “Laodifang” Restaurant does a lively dim sum breakfast trade.
On Saturday and Sunday morning we have a dim sum, starting at 7 am until 3 pm,” she said.
Dishes cost about $2 to $3 each.
Thanks to Eng’s eight years of work experience at Old Place, she can speak both Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese and can read both languages as well.
Like many Chinese restaurants, Old Place has a series of rooms people can book for family gatherings and according to Eng, the rooms are full every night.
“It will be busy for Chinese New Year.”
Shark’s fin soup is especially popular as are big head prawns, Mekong River prawns and abalone.
While South African abalone can cost as much as $128, other dishes that include pork, beef or chicken—like fried rice and fried noodles—are only $4.
For men who are interested in a healthy libido, the recommended dish is Gong Fu Tang, which includes sea horse, turtle and other things to make a man strong.
Other favourites include bird’s nest soup and bird’s nest dessert, braised fish maw with sea cucumber, braised crab and chicken casserole, whole roast duck for $20, whole roast suckling pig for $60 and smaller portions for less money are also available.
The restaurant has barreled chicken, crackling baby pigeon, pork spare ribs, and big head prawns with salted egg, but what Eng says is really famous is the big head prawn fried with soy sauce.
“I like the seafood because all the seafood in here is fresh. If it is not fresh I don’t want to sell it,” Eng said. “Because it is fresh it will taste good.”