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New Indian nosh-house second to naan

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Dakshin's chefs cook some of the best naan in Siem Reap with their specially imported tandoori oven. Photograph: Alistair Walsh

A restaurateur in Siem Reap has a novel approach to attracting customers. Those with a passion for curry will be happy to know Siem Reap’s newest Indian restaurant is planning a grand opening complete with free food and drinks.

Restaurant co-owner Pannir says, "We hope this will be a big party for Siem Reap's expats and will bring in customers to try our food.”

The Singaporean-run Dakshins has just opened on the laneway opposite Miss Wong’s and is serving food from all over India.

The restaurant had a soft opening on December 23, an apparently auspicious day for the owners, who are planning a grand official opening on February 3 with a free banquet from 6.30pm, and musical performance by Singaporean artist V Mogan.

V Mogan has been described as a “one man band with the soul of a five-piece combo band.” His music is culled from artists such as Neil Young, Cat Stevens, Jimi Hendrix and Cat Stevens.

Dakshin’s co-owners and brothers, Pannir and Vijay Selvam, opened the restaurant following the success of Pannir’s East India Curry restaurant in Phnom Penh.

Pannir says East India Curry was one of the premiere curry locations in Phnom Penh and attracted a loyal clientele that included royal figures.

Pannir has gone to great lengths to make his new restaurant stand out from the 11 or so other Indian restaurants in town including building a fishbowl-like glass kitchen, a custom-made staircase and importing his own tandoori oven – likely the only restaurant here with its own imported tandoori oven.

He hopes his attention to detail will make the restaurant second to naan. “Happiness should always come from the stomach,” Pannir says.

The two have hired two chefs from north and south India and plan to hire a third.

The menu is predictably extensive, covering the cuisine from all over the 3 million-odd square kilometres of India.

Most of the curries range from about $6 to $8, while samosas are $2.50 and chowpatties are $3.

Pannir says he realises the tourist season is short, and hopes to curry favour with the expat community.

To that end he says expats here will receive 10 per cent off and can expect to be treated well.

The décor of the restaurant is undeniably stylish. Entrance via the laneway leads guests past the spotless glass kitchen into the double-height front dining area.

Pannir has removed the false ceiling to expose the hard-wood rafters and the charming brickwork of the building.

His custom stairway leads up to a second floor dining area which will open for functions and parties.

Pannir says the business will provide take-away, delivery and catering for events.

The hiring of a third chef should push their opening hours in the wee hours, possibly making them the 24-hour chapatti people.



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