Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A ‘feast’ from the Middle East off Bassac Lane




A ‘feast’ from the Middle East off Bassac Lane

A serving of fresh hummus sprinkled with spices and served with pita bread.
A serving of fresh hummus sprinkled with spices and served with pita bread. Sahiba Chawdhary

A ‘feast’ from the Middle East off Bassac Lane

Whether for a hearty lunch or a late-night snack, new restaurant Middle East Feast is the latest entrant to the ever-growing food scene on Street 308. Syrian owner Abdullah, who arrived in Cambodia a year ago, has brought to the Kingdom knowledge he accumulated working back home.

“I worked in a restaurant before, in Syria, and Lebanon,” he said. Abdullah, who asked his last name be withheld for privacy reasons, prefers not to dwell on the war back home, instead focusing on the food.

“The food here is [representative of] all the Middle East, not just Syria and Lebanon,” he said.

Despite the novelty of his surroundings in Phnom Penh, he found that all the herbs, spices and peppers required were readily available in the markets.

One of the dishes offered at Middle East Feast.
One of the dishes offered at Middle East Feast. Sahiba Chawdhary

“We can find them all here in Phnom Penh,” he said, adding that at times it could be tricky navigating the language barrier, but ultimately “just the names are different”.

“I would go by myself [to the markets] in order to see, and I would show the Cambodian vendors pictures, and also taste them to see if it is the same,” he said.

The restaurant has a soft-opening menu for the next month with more than two-dozen menu items featuring everything from a plate of Hummus ($3.50) to Baklava ($3) to end the meal.

A main “special” will be changed every few days, in order to showcase different entrees to a local clientele that might otherwise be unfamiliar with Middle Eastern cooking.

Middle East Feast's chef preparing food.
Middle East Feast's chef preparing food. Sahiba Chawdhary

He foresees it catching on, he said, noting the similarities in rice-grains in Khmer cuisine, and the prominent uses of grilled meats across the two otherwise disparate culinary traditions.

“There are some Cambodian dishes that are in some way semi-Arabian,” he said.

Abdullah’s plan is to more than double the already ample current offerings. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the choices, his favourite is the chicken shawarma done “Damascus style”, which means it is marinated in garlic and herbs and slowly spit-roasted, instead of simply grilled.

“People in Phnom Penh might have had the shawarma before, but this is going to be different from that,” he says.

Middle East Feast is located at #11 Street 308, and is open every day from 11am-11:30pm.

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Cambodia at ‘most critical moment’, Hun Sen warns

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the first community transmission of Covid-19 in Cambodia has led the country to the “most critical moment” that warranted urgent, large-scale operations to contain the pandemic. Hun Sen, who confirmed the first local transmission on November 28, said the source of

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there