Siem Reap is slowly but surely turning Japanese. The town hosts, among others, Kobe restaurant on Road 6, the Sokha Angkor Resort’s Takezono, and last year Koh Kong opened on Pub St. Now there is a new star on the Japanese dining scene, the sleekly chic Hashi, on Sivutha opposite Lucky Mall.
Despite being open for only three months, Hashi, meaning Chopsticks, is already a Siem Reap favourite, firmly staying at Number 3 out of the 275 restaurants listed on Tripadvisor. The eatery specialises in sushi and sashimi and it definitely has a whiff of the high-end about it.
The menu features Japanese-imported Kobe beef, the legendary meat prized for its tenderness, priced at $89, which makes it the most expensive item on the menu.
The 70-seater restaurant is beautifully designed, from the shoal of delicate Perspex fish hanging from the ceiling above the sushi bar, to the neat black and red place settings. To the left of the sushi bar on entry is a traditional Japanese seating area where diners sit cross-legged on the floor.
On the right-hand side, for customers needing a little more comfort, is what is known as ‘tatami seating’: kind of sunken tables that diners can pop their legs under. There are also two private dining rooms, one seating six and the other eight people.
Owner Finan Khim, who also manages Borei Angkor Resort and Spa, and Lotus Blanc Resort, decided to open Hashi after noticing the growing trend in Japanese food.
“Hashi is offering a healthier choice of dining option in Siem Reap. It’s quite limited in terms of restaurants here,” he says.
“I also noticed a lot of big shopping malls featuring the so-called ‘Tokyo Street’ concept – not just one Japanese restaurant but a whole load of them. I’ve seen it Malaysia, Singapore, mostly in Asia.”
All the staff at Hashi is Cambodian, but both the chef and restaurant manager have spent time working in five star hotels in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The chef has worked for Japanese restaurants in Hyatt Regency among others.
Hashi prides itself on using the freshest ingredients, sourcing its tuna from the Philippines, salmon from Norway and sea bream from Japan. Only the shrimp, squid and snapper come from Cambodia. The restaurant’s signature dish, according to manager Sam Ang Touch, is the sashimi and sushi which Hashi ensures stays fresh by only using fish that is up to a day old.
Finan says, “We have a policy that any fish that stays out for longer than a day we will rotate to other places because I have a number of restaurants doing western cuisine where you serve it cooked. We work around to make sure that whatever our customer eats raw is very fresh and of the highest quality. So far, we’ve never really had a problem selling the sashimi because we sell it every day.
The maki rolls, tempura and avocado rolls are also extremely popular.
Since its recent opening, Hashi has been an instant hit with a full house almost every night. Finan says the majority of customers are European with many Koreans, Japanese and now well-heeled Cambodians also starting to come.