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Steakhouse popular with Cambodians

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A waitress takes a customer’s order at T-Bone.

After repeated compliments to the chef of Le Wok for his steak cooking skill, owner Julie Thai said “Hey, let’s open a steakhouse”.

T-Bone steakhouse on Mao Tse Toung Blvd, offers a relaxed family atmosphere and a fine selection of local and imported steaks.

Owner Julie Thai came to Cambodia in 2002, for a two month holiday from France and fell in love with the Kingdom and never managed to leave. She worked at K-West on the riverside for its opening but said she always dreamed of opening her own restaurant.

A few years ago Julie opened Le Wok, a small eatery near the national museum.

“Le Wok was my first restaurant. It’s small: 30-40 people maximum. We serve French food and Asian food. You can come for a salad or fried rice. We took the best of both Western and Asian food” she said.

“We had such a strong team at Le Wok, and received many compliments on the steak, so I said lets open a steakhouse” Julie said.

“We wanted to offer international quality steak, so we offer imported steak from Australia, New Zealand and sometimes the United States” she said.

T-Bone also offers local beef from Battambang and Kompong Speu which she said often surprise spatrons, as the quality is higher than anticipated.

“Sure, Cambodian steak is different from Australian steak, but the quality is very good and people are surprised” she said.

“We transferred staff from Le Wok when we opened up T-Bone, our team was fantastic and I really wanted to expand” she said.

T-Bone has its own butcher and the cows are purchased whole and stored in a cold room. The chef takes the cuts straight from the cow.

Australian steak is the most popular at T-Bone, and the most popular desert is the cheesecake and profiteroles, Thai said.

T-Bone has been surprisingly popular among Cambodians, with around 80 per cent of the patrons being Khmer.

“Many Cambodians don’t like beef, but they like to eat a little that is well cooked. The meat is best if you have it medium, but it is very different from what Cambodians are used to, so some of them have trouble with this” she said.

“T-Bone is a family restaurant, we have a kids section with a TV and games for them to play, and we want to cater to families” she said.

The restaurant market in Cambodia is very different from her native Fcountry, Thai said, “It is much easier here than in France.”

“The market here is different and the way of management is different. It can be frustrating but also rewarding. The restaurant market in Cambodia is surprising, there is so much choice. This is a good. I am very surprised; ten years ago it was different, it was very hard to get all our ingredients but now we have everything we need” she said.

“Cambodians come for dinner but often arrive at five or earlier and then leave at seven, it is quite different from France” she said.

“We deliver now, but we did not plan to. It was simply because of repeated customer requests,” she said.

A new wine list is planned at T-Bone with pictures showing where each wine is from, to aid Cambodians who often struggle to choose because of their lack of familiarity with it.

“We change our wine list each month, we plan to have some wine from Argentina soon” she said.

T-Bone currently employs 30 people, all Cambodian.

A $9.90 lunch buffet is available, with a salad bar, and the grill of the day. T-Bone is located at #107 (Ex 179), Mao Tse Toung Blvd.

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