One man and his kebab stall have created a buzz among carnivorous expats, after opening on Sivutha Boulevard near the night market entrance last month.
Armenian-born Narek Grigoryan left his adopted home of the south of France five months ago, bringing with him skills learnt from “the best kebab chef in Nice.”
“I’m a mechanical engineer and cooking is my hobby,” says Grigoryan. “The kebab has a long, long history, and every man in traditional Armenian families is good at barbecuing and making kebabs. It’s in our genes.
“I took a master-class with one of the best kebab chefs in Nice, an Armenian-Lebanese. He taught me how to cook, how to prepare meat, how to take care and how to make it the best kebab in the city.”
Having visited Siem Reap on holiday and found there were no kebab purveyors here, Grigoryan decided to make the move in February, setting up shop four months later. He met with almost instantaneous success, with people flooding Facebook with high praise.
Grigoryan says the secret of his success is his inherent love of cooking, and using the best quality ingredients – he spent two months tracking down the right pita bread supplier.
Grigoryan uses chicken rather than lamb or pork because he feels it is healthier and lighter on the stomach in a hot climate. He buys fresh chicken every morning and marinades it in a special sauce, which sadly must remain top secret.
“I researched different meats and I chose chicken because it’s the healthiest meat – it has a lot of protein, a lot of vitamin D and is low in cholesterol,” he says. “It’s not dangerous to eat in hot weather.. You can eat chicken any time.”
Grigoryan’s kebabs come in two sizes with French salad – cabbage, tomato and onion – and a variety of sauces including homemade garlic mayonnaise and chili sauces with varying degrees of heat.
While he caters to a wide variety of consumers, he was surprised to discover that the Khmer also like his kebabs.
“What really surprised me was that so many Khmers buy it. They like it so much, and they say, ‘this is very chhnganh’.”
Grigoryan says he has had many requests to stay open all night, in keeping with the age-old tradition of people stumbling home inebriated and picking up a kebab en-route after a big night out.
His opening hours are 7pm-midnight, Monday to Saturday.