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The popular night spot of Bassac Lane will soon be home to a new cargo container restaurant and bar, in what is proving to be a growing trend in Cambodia. Sreng Meng Srun

Container see, container do

The notion of markets – be it wet markets, night markets, or flea markets – are age-old. Vendors and visionaries have been making creative tweaks to this tradition of shopping in a one-stop destination that sells anything from meats and vegetables to trinkets and vintage goods.

Cue cargo container markets, the latest trend to have taken over parts of the world, from Bangkok to Toronto, and now, Cambodia.

Aptly named Zinc, the container restaurant and bar is set to lay its foundations on the former parking lot along Street 308, opposite Bassac Lane. Groundwork began a month ago, with these retrofitted cargo containers emulating an “American style”, according to Hyunwoo Kim, CEO of LK Service and Trading Co. Ltd., Zinc’s developer.

LK Service and Trading has partnered with Korean restaurant Sura – situated right next to where Zinc will be erected – for the project, and said this was their first project in Cambodia.

The predominately expatriate clientele frequenting Street 308 and Bassac Lane’s bars is not lost on Kim, who said that their focus would be on targeting foreigners. However, in due time, he said, “We are sure we can catch the attention of local customers who are looking for somewhere new and interesting.”

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A worker modifies a cargo container onsite at Zinc. Sreng Meng Srun

“Since our restaurant operates from cargo containers, this could make the main difference between the other bars and restaurants in the Bassac area,” said Kim.

The hype of container markets has captured the hearts of Phnom Penh’s locals, especially youths, with Jet’s Container Night Market – the first container venture in Cambodia – on National Assembly Street rarely witnessing anything less than a heaving throng of people every night seeking food and entertainment.

Zinc will be operating on a more cubbyhole concept compared to Jet’s one-hectare plot, although the former’s 500 square metres is sizeable compared to the tinier bars in the area. Half of the space, though, will be dedicated to parking space.

A resemblance between the two container developments is the stack-upon concept. Similar to Jet’s night market, Zinc will also serve from two floors of reconstructed containers.

The latest container craze venture can accommodate up to 150 people at a time, and will be smoking up a storm with its spread of barbequed meats from pork ribs to seafood, while other dishes pay homage to more international cuisine like India’s Tandoori chicken.

“We aim to be fully operational by the end of June,” Kim said.

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