Chef Narith Plong is in constant motion. In the kitchen, he cracks open oysters, torches thin cuts of beef and slices salmon into sashimi. He also serves as waiter, delivering course after course to customers in his recently opened sushi bar, Le Broken Plate.
Plong, who is Cambodian but lived in Canada for many years, returned to the Kingdom over a year ago to settle and open a restaurant. His idea? To take his international cooking experience and combine it with a palate of local ingredients.
He also had a “personal attachment” to the food business. “My grandfather was a butcher in a village 20 kilometres from Phnom Penh, [called] Bek Chan,” Plong says. His new restaurant takes its name from the village. It’s where he spent his childhood and “got connected with using a knife”, in his words.
Plong likes his knives. They are laid out neatly before the sushi bar. “They’re treating me well,” he says. “They teach you to be responsible.”
The 36-year-old chef was trained in the kitchens of Montreal’s vibrant food scene, including making sushi. But in Phnom Penh, he’s made more than a sushi bar, taking some liberties with design and a whole lot more with the cuisine.
“I have a habit of making things up,” Plong says. “It’s not a traditional Japanese restaurant. We experiment with tastes and flavours.”
While the trappings are there, the food – “internationally inspired” – tells a different story. From the wasabi-pomegranate-caper garnish on the Pacific oysters (imported from Na Trang) to the slices of grilled pineapple served alongside a dish of Canadian beef glazed with ponzu sauce, the dishes Plong brought to Post Weekend’s table broke with conventions.
“I don’t ever get satisfied,” he says.
For this reason, Plong doesn’t just offer a rotating menu, but an omakase menu, a Japanese tradition that features a multi-course meal selected personally by the chef. (Plong also recommends making a reservation.)
Like his cooking, the price of a meal varies – on the market price, he says. Items are available off the menu a la carte accordingly. However, for an omakase menu, one should expect to pay between $30 and $50. It’s all about the quality, according to Plong.
“It’s a game of trying to find the best ingredients,” he says.
Le Broken Plate is located at #108 Street 13. It is open Tuesday through Sunday from 6pm to 10pm, from October 10. Tel: 078 903 335.