Urban chic, Angkorian art and verdant jungle jostle for space under the all-seeing eyes of a robotic master of ceremonies
At the end of La Seine road on Koh Pich, behind a pair of bored-looking sidewalk guards, is a sign with an arrow that reads “Stairway to G-Star”. But there is no stairway.
Instead, a glitzy elevator transports you up five floors to the new restaurant. You’ll know you’ve reached it when you see the human-sized Transformers robot with the animatronic head.
“It’s just decoration,” assured Rasmei Moranich, manager of the newly opened upscale lounge. “People can take a picture with it. It moves.”
The restaurant, which held its grand opening last week, is not an easy place to pin down.
The food is fusion style, and so too is the decor. Cement walls and painted metal barrels converted into hanging lights give the bar an urban vibe, while a verdant outdoor terrace, potted plants and fountains suggest a more organic theme.
A mural running along one wall featuring Angkorian warriors offers a nod to Cambodia’s more traditional eateries.
And that’s just the main floor.There is also the rooftop bar space: a multi-storied, modernist sprawl of thatched tables, Christmas lights, beach umbrellas and a panoramic view of Koh Pich’s faux-Roman developments.
“At nighttime, it looks really nice,” said Moranich over deafening techno music and the joyous shrieks of a nearby table finishing up the last of two beer towers.
On a flat-screen TV above the Angkorian mural, an amateur video of a snake snarfing down a bullfrog played inexplicably. It soon switched to looping footage from a European electronic music festival.
The diversity of aesthetics at G-Star reflects the varied business portfolio of the restaurant’s owners. GFG88 is a Cambodian firm that boasts a list of G-centric enterprises, including G-Decoration and G-Diamond – a jewellery import shop with one branch located conveniently below G-Star.
But one should never go diamond shopping on an empty stomach, and the colourful menu at G-Star has more than enough tasty offerings to sate.
Some are, in true fusion style, quite strange – but surprisingly succulent. There is the salmon surprise ($6.50), a delicious circle of raw sashimi, layered with cuts of coconut meat, garnished with basil leaves and centred around a mixture of cut-up garlic, peanuts and lemongrass.
Then there is a fulfilling frog amok with jasmine rice ($6.50), served in a thatched basket. And one more mouthwatering mention: the deep-fried king prawns wrapped in bacon ($8.50).
For drinkers, there is an equally colourful variety. A generous beer selection is overshadowed by a long list of enticing cocktails, such as the Kiss Your Lip (vodka, blue curacao, malibu, pineapple) and the unfortunately named Yellow Snow (tequila, cointreau, mango and lime), both for $5.50.
For big groups, there are beer towers and also plastic vases containing multi-coloured beakers of various alcohols called The Summer Rain (both $16).
Like its mood-setting yellow Transformer, which doubles in the Michael Bay film as a robot warrior and sports car, G-Star is decidedly multipurpose.
“It is a lounge, but we also provide the sky bar, so our place is a combination between a lounge and a club, because we also have DJs perform,” said Moranich, adding that she also planned to book live bands.
Behind her on the flat screen, the European ravers appeared to celebrate her announcement as she continued: “It’s a fusion between Asian and Western.”
G-Star Lounge and Sky Bar is located at B43-46 La Seine, Koh Pich