Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A different sort of sandwich

A different sort of sandwich

A different sort of sandwich

090622_21a.jpg
090622_21a.jpg

The Lunch Box in Phnom Penh offers an experience altogether beyond lettuce, tomato and meat on bread – gourmet meals amid unpretentious surroundings

Photo by:

Stephanie Mee

Co-owners of The Lunch Box, Thoeun Soeun and Eliza Mealey.

SANDWICH orders in many of Phnom Penh's restaurants and cafes generally consist of the ubiquitous baguette or plain white bread with mandatory lettuce and tomato, and a choice of meat. In fact, most of the time it hardly matters where the sandwich is ordered, as the basic formula is the same across the board.

Bona fide foodies will rejoice, then, that Phnom Penh's newest lunch spot, The Lunch Box, has dared to deviate from the norm, offering many hard-to-come-by gourmet ingredients and home-cooked specials in a shady garden setting next to Wat Lanka.

"The idea was simple really," said Eliza Mealey, owner of the Lunch Box and a native of Brisbane, Australia. "I wanted to open a place where I could offer food that I really miss from home, things like creative deli-style sandwiches with a variety of fresh breads, vegetables, meats, cheeses and condiments to choose from, and unique specials - things that people might not necessarily find in many other eateries around the capital."

Diners at the Lunch Box can opt to construct their own sandwich using a myriad of ingredients from the brightly lit refrigerated display case or try one of the cafe's original concoctions from the menu board displayed above the cosy wooden bar.

Gourmet all the way

Gourmet sandwiches include the Vego-delight: roasted pumpkin and red pepper, goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, caramelized onions and basil, wrapped in fresh Lebanese flat bread; or the Antipasto Wrap: basil cream cheese, salami, mozzarella, olives, red pepper, artichokes and gherkins in a soft pita bread.

Fresh, inventive ingredients at the cafe include Turkish flat bread, olive and herb focaccia, lightly spiced pepper ham, homemade pesto chicken, roasted pumpkin spread, guacamole, tzatziki and marinated artichokes, to name a few.

Lunch specials change daily, and can range from a flaky ricotta and asparagus tart to a fresh Nicoise salad, bursting with veggies and tuna, to home-cooked lasagna.

The cafe also offers a full breakfast menu with a range of coffee selections, including espressos, lattes, and iced blends, as well as omelettes, croissants, fresh Cambodian fruits and muesli. The oddly popular Aussie favourite, Vegemite with gourmet toast, is also on offer.

"It was important for me to create a space that wasn't stuffy or pretentious," said Mealey.

"I want people to be able to come here and order a really nice breakfast or sandwich, relax, read the newspaper, or meet friends for a coffee and a chat."

The location of The Lunch Box is ideal for a casual breakfast or lunch given that it is centrally located on a quiet side street next to Wat Lanka, mercifully free from the jarring noise pollution that often plagues the city.

Lush tropical greenery creates shade and seclusion, and a large, flowering jasmine tree next to the gate scents the air in the cafe.

All of the fluffy pillows adorning the wooden and rattan chairs were made locally with materials purchased in Cambodia, and a few of the tables, chairs, and lamp shades were made by the cafe's Cambodian co-owner, Thoeun Soeun.

"I like to use the word ‘quirky' to describe this place," said Mealey.

"We like to joke and say it's a little bit of Brisbane and a little bit of Prey Veng (Thoeun Soeun's home province)."

The cafe is open from 7am to 4pm daily excluding Mondays, and offers dine-in service, as well as quick and easy take away.

Plans are afoot for delivery service in the near future.

To enjoy gourmet food in a tranquil setting, visit The Lunch Box at 14, Street 282 in Boeung Keng Kang I, or for more information call 012 893 784.

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Knockout! Kun Khmer replaces ‘Muay’ for Phnom Penh Games

    Cambodia has decided to officially remove the word Muay from the programme of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023 in May. “Kun Khmer” will instead be used to represent the Southeast Asian sport of kickboxing, in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people. Vath

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • New int’l airport nearly half complete as travel industry returns to life

    Construction of a new airport that is slated to serve the capital has passed the 43 per cent completion mark, raising prospects for a proper recovery in the civil aviation and tourism sectors as international travellers return to the Kingdom in increasingly large numbers. The figure

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,