A group of young Singaporeans have opened an unusual Asian fusion restaurant, based on Italian food, but with dishes like Singapore chili crab pasta.
If you head up Russian Boulevard toward the airport from Canadia Bank, the new restaurant, called The Park, is located about one kilometer on the right, just beyond where street 169 comes from Kampuchea Krom to intersect with Russian Boulevard.
The four Singapore partners named their place The Park because there about three parks located right in front of the location.
A driving force behind the vision and the menu, as well as one-quarter owner, is Barry Yip, 27, who worked as a chef in Singapore, loves cheese, and used to work at a restaurant called Everything with Fries.
Yip started to visit Cambodia in recent years because his father owns a small shampoo factory here.
By and by he saw the young population of Cambodians eager to learn and thought he could not only get a change to serve the good food he loved, but to train young Cambodians in international systems of the food and beverage industry.
Located in what had been a combination residential area and photo frame shop, The Park opened in mid-August. In addition to Yip, shareholders include Hung Sihao, 31, Jason Eng, 31, and Jerome Ho, also 31 years old.
The Park is a big adventure for the four Singaporeans. Eng is from the Information Technology industry and Hung is an engineer. Jerome Ho is a certified public accountant.
Yip says making money is not the main focus. He sees Cambodia today as being like the 1970s in Singapore, something he and his generation of Singaporeans feel they missed and are hungry to find somewhere else.
They think they may have found it in Cambodia.
“We never had a chance to experience this kind of place at all. More important than earning money, we would like to help Cambodia and go through the things that Singapore went through during the 1970s in Singapore that we did not have a chance to go through,” Yip said. He formerly served as a chef at Café Delmar in Singapore.
Yip first came to Cambodia to take a break from the fast pace of Singapore where he says everything was going too fast.
“We are spending our lives trying to catch up, the country the economy, how they are going to develop.”
Yip’s Italian fusion concept includes dishes like Garlic Shrimp Baguettes for US$5, Minty Lamb Rack for $17, Crispy Skin Duck Leg for $15, the Park Big Cheese Burger for $9 and a range of pasta and soups prepared in a unique Singapore fusion way.
“Most Italian food has cheese,” Yip said. “Singaporeans love cheese.”
“Fifteen years ago, everybody was trying to do fusion, and they didn’t make it because they had 70 per cent Western 30 per cent Asia. We do it 50-50,” Yip said.
Yip seasons the French fries with his own special marinating powder. The concept is casual dining, where guests can have high quality food in a casual atmosphere.
“We are here to build business, and we are looking at a bakery with cakes and desserts where we can start teaching the youngsters,” Yip said.
“I see some young Cambodians sniffing glue along the roadside and with no jobs. I would like to help these people with a baking school where we can teach these people where they can have some skill.”
One opportunity Yip sees is people are happy to make $200 a month, where in Singapore people have to be paid $1,600 to $1,800 per month.
“We don’t mind paying good wages as long as they do their job. A business might not last long, but building a country will last long time,” he said.
Once The Park is successful, Yip would like to open another location on the riverside and expand into the production of biscuits and other bakery items.
“At the end of the year, two per cent of the profits will go to charity, and three per cent will go to all the staff,” he said.
The Park is open every day from 10 am to 10 pm. Yip intends to start creating a breakfast menu with American breakfasts, fusion style, with crepes, pancakes and omelets.
“We need much more awareness to the public.”
Other dishes include Fusion pan-seared sea bass for $8, naked rib-eye for $16, stuffed chicken thigh for $11.
To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Alan Becker at [email protected]