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The chicken is served with salad, garlic-fried rice and fries.
The chicken is served with salad, garlic-fried rice and fries. Eliah Lillis

Quirk, value at Thai grill-house

It’s a familiar origin story in the Phnom Penh restaurant scene: three friends, looking to mix things up, move to the capital and decide to open a business. But if the set up is all-too-recognisable, the end result – a quirky, and tasty, little eatery near Russian Market – remains a winner.

Meet Watcharin “Pui” Suwannathup and his wife, Pattarasiri “Ohh” Viriyasiri, who were looking for a change of pace, so left their native Thailand, joined forces with a family friend to this month open a small Thai-inspired grilled meat restaurant in the capital’s Tuol Tom Poung neighborhood.

Pui, who wears a red bandana under his hat and does the grilling, had been an advertising photographer for more than a decade, he says. The decision to move, Ohh adds, sprung from a search for “new inspiration.”

Indy House has a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ feel.
Indy House has a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ feel. Eliah Lillis

The Thai trio dubbed their eatery Indy House, a tip of the cap to the “independent spirit” they say drove the adventure. The small Tuol Tom Poung space serves simple but tasty sets of grilled meats accompanied by fried rice, salad and fries. The chicken, just $3 for a plate, makes for a quick, light lunch, but a variety of pork, beef and lamb cuts are also available at similar price-points.

“Our food is easy and cheap; it’s accessible,” says Sitthiphat “Selek” Buchavong, the team’s third member.

The eatery has a “hole-in-the-wall” feel, with a mural decorating the walls that livens up the space. The low tables and benches as well as the bar were built by Pui out of repurposed wood pallets. It’s a bit of handy know-how from his days building sets for advertising photo shoots. The bar stools and light fixtures are also his creations, he adds.

“He recycled materials to build everything,” Selek says.

For now, Indy House is open for lunch and dinner, but they’re stocking the bar to make it a casual place for drinks as well.

So if you’re driving down street 135, look for a simple wooden sign advertising “steak” for $3 in big, colorful chalk lettering, and stop by. Selek, Pui and Ohh will be waiting.

“Everyone is a friend,” they say.

Indy House is located at #62 Street 135 and is open every day from 12pm-8pm. Tel: 099 555 722

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