FOR an American bar experience about as authentic as you can get, a popular choice is Sharky Bar and Restaurant, located at 126, Street 130 in Phnom Penh.
Once you climb the stairs to the interior, you’re greeted by an unusually large room centred on a rectangular bar in the middle and flanked by a bandstand, a kitchen and places to sit.
One of the owners, Al Schaaf, 38, of Dayton, Ohio, is a trained American chef and is proud of the food Sharky has to offer.
Schaaf, who studied culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University, is the primary architect of the Sharky menu.
“My mother has a grill and tavern in Dayton, Ohio,” Schaaf says.
He’s particularly proud of the authenticity of the Mexican food, including the Pacifica Burrito, which is filled with grilled chicken, refried beans, cheese, salsa and sour cream and topped with spicy ranchero sauce and additional cheese.
Other items include a blue-cheese bacon burger for $6.95, a barbecue rib dinner for $8.50, a Greek chicken salad for $6.25 and a grilled cheese steak sandwich with onions and mushrooms for $6.50.
“This is exactly like what you would get in America,” Schaaf says.
Schaaf’s partner, Mike Hsu, regularly brings Ancho and Chipotle chilies from Mexico.
Schaaf is also the owner and creator of Fatboy Subs, next door to Sharky at 124 Street 130. He’s proud of the freshly baked bread and the New York style cheesecake on offer there.
Some Fatboy Subs details can be seen at http://fatboysubs.blogspot.com/
The style of Sharky Bar is definitely rock and roll, with live bands every Friday and Saturday.
Sharky, with a capacity of 250 people, is open every day from 4 pm to 2 am.
Sharky entertainment manager Ross Hounslow says Cambodian bands often perform. “We’re giving them a venue to promote the local music scene,” Hounslow says.
In February, Sharky hosted an event dubbed “Pennstock”, during which 20 bands performed over three nights.
During his decade in Cambodia and seven years at Sharky, Schaaf has seen Cambodia improve remarkably. He’s ridden his motorcycle all over the country, thanks to a well-trained team.
“If I want to go on a bike trip to Kampot, I can go and not worry about what’s happening here,” Schaaf says.