While petite Phnom Penh native Ahya Chan may not look like your average British butcher, she has done her homework. Since marrying her husband, Chris Brown, 14 years ago, she has been working on perfecting her repertoire of English dishes, which she cooks at home for her Bristol-born husband and two children.
“Ahya likes discovering new recipes on YouTube, especially British recipes and trying them out,” Brown says. This experimentation even extended to early forays into sausage making in which she cut off the bottom end of a plastic bottle and used it as a funnel to stuff ground meat into casings. Having purchased a meat grinder for the shop, she no longer has to resort to such do-it-yourself measures.
“My husband loves English food, and every time I cooked for him he said ‘wow, this is good’,” she says.
With years of experience, she decided to put her skills towards a business. While there are German and French butchers in town, there is no butcher shop dedicated to meats in the English style. Chan is filling that void out of a small shop in Russian Market. In a tiny back kitchen and upstairs, she dry cured bacon and grinds meat and herbs for her sausage recipes, which include traditional options and more experimental recipes, like the Garlic Black Pepper Sausage ($10 for a kilogram), which packs a spicy punch.
The shop also has a basic menu of “fast food” pub items, like a tasty Minced Beef Pie ($3.75) and even a Scotch Egg ($1), the classic snack that involves wrapping a hardboiled egg in meat before deep-frying. The cooked items, though, are there to showcase the raw meats on offer, says Brown.
All of Chan’s meats are dry cured, not smoked, and the sausages are wrapped in intestine rather than in artificial casings, in true British style. “You go to the French butchers – it’s pates, types of ham, much more coarse meat,” Brown says, adding that a German butcher like Dan’s Meats would also have its own traditional style of grinding and processing meats. The Meat Shop, however, is banking on mostly British and Australian expats missing the taste of home – and three months in it seems to be working.
Down the line, Chan would like to expand to grocery stores and to begin selling to restaurants around the city. At the moment, though, she says she is too busy to expand. “I just opened and I didn’t expect a lot of customers to come,” she said, but come they did. “In the future I want to go out [to sell] to hotels and restaurants,” she said. “For now customers know they can come and get my meat and they take it home to cook.”
The Meat Shop is located at #4 Street 450 in Toul Tompoung. It is open every day from 8am-6pm. Tel: 092250249.