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Grab & Go has an Iranian touch.
Grab & Go has an Iranian touch. Eli Meixler

New sandwich joint calls on creativity

What does a chicken burger smothered in hummus have in common with a beef shawarma covered in ketchup and garlic sauce? Not much, you may think, if you hadn’t experimented with the vast array of sandwich creations on offer at Phnom Penh’s newest sandwich joint, which allows customers to get creative with lunch.

Grab & Go, the new sandwich shop on the corner of Streets 306 and 57, looks like a coffee shop, but its menu is more akin to Subway than Starbucks and has much more flavour than either.

The interior décor is eccentric and trendy – at the centre of the dining space, with its plush reading chairs and low-set coffee table, is a bookshelf stocked with an eclectic collection of quirky household objects ranging from vases to antique-looking clocks. A large mural states: “People who love to eat are always the best people.”

Beef on olive bread.
Beef on olive bread.

The menu itself could take the form of a tree diagram: with no specific sandwich offered, it is up to the customer to decide what to eat. Each sandwich is stuffed with either chicken ($3.75) or beef ($4.75) marinated as per the Iranian chef’s secret recipe.

“I cannot tell you the exact recipe of course, but our meat is marinated with a delicate blend of fine Iranian spices,” said Gwen Rognant, the restaurant’s manager, adding that the opening of Grab & Go is preceding the opening of a Persian fine-dining restaurant called Kaviar.

Set menus, which include a chicken ($6) or beef sandwich ($6.75), come with one side of French fries or salad and a choice of a soft drink or Tiger draught.

In an attempt to create a chicken shawarma, I selected a tortilla with chicken, hummus, spicy chilli, lettuce and tomato. My dining partner was more creative and opted for beef on olive bread with tomato, red cabbage, jalapenos, BBQ sauce and garlic sauce.

Both sandwiches were superb – the shawarma was everything it ought to be, with a spicy tang accompanying what tasted like satay. My friend’s sandwich was less to my liking due to the intensity of the jalapenos mingling in the BBQ sauce, but after all, it’s each to their own at Grab & Go.

The restaurant manages to successfully apply the coffee shop model to sandwiches – you can order and mingle in an aesthetically pleasing space or, as the name implies, get your food and be back on the street within 10 minutes. And with its fresh ingredients, high quality sandwiches are all but guaranteed. Don’t like how your dish comes out? With Grab & Go’s nearly endless possibilities for customised sandwiches, return the next day and try again.

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