Man about town: 8 August 2014

Man about town: 8 August 2014

Eye-catching neon signs now light up a strip of National Road 6 halfway between Sivutha Boulevard and the airport turn-off, in a new strip of restaurants and hotels that have sprung up over the past few months.

The most ornate neon light show radiates forth at nighttime from the new Angkor Mondial, and its lights resemble some sort of scene of ancient Babylon meets 21st century high tech. And like moths attracted to the bright lights, this restaurant, only open for a few weeks, attracts buses and hordes of package tourists at night time.

The restaurant serves up a strictly tourists-only Khmer buffet and Apsara dance show for 12 bucks.

The neon light show at the newly opened 90-room Angkor Grand Pleasant Hotel resembles a slice of lit-up Shanghai night life and the hotel is also open to a cavernous and plush Chinese restaurant, the Hong Kong Zhen Bao Seafood Restaurant, which is already busy on some nights.

Seemingly ignoring present politically correct culinary convention, the restaurant’s a la carte menu’s most expensive items are stewed tiger shark fin soup with abalone sauce at $80 for a large serving, and stewed shark fin with crab meat at $98.

The menu lists just over 100 interesting items, priced from $3.80 upwards and also caters for tour groups with six set menus ranging from $4.50 per person to $18.50. As usual with Chinese restaurant menus in town, there’s always a mystery item – in this case grilled wire taro.

On the other side of the road is another cool but laid back neon sign display inviting customers to step into the Thai-run Red Crab Seafood restaurant.

One of its menu features is a variety of five different lobster dishes coming in at a mere $150 a kilo, with fried rock lobster at $50 a kilo. There’s also a good range of seafood salads priced from $6.80 to $7.50, and some interesting vegetarian fare such as braised sea asparagus for $15. Fresh oysters are available at $2.50 each.

A much humbler entrant, which opened five months ago, is Japanese Pizza Yes. But the menu is a case of pizza – no, because there’s no pizza as we know it on the menu. Ask for pizza and you’ll be directed to the okonomiyaki selection which in reality is a type of Japanese pancake – the name is derived from the ‘okonomi,’ meaning ‘what you like’ and yaki meaning ‘grilled’ or ‘cooked.’

The restaurant has five variants of this dish ranging in price from $3 to $4.50.

It also serves meat dishes such as ‘hamburg steak with turnip sauce’ for $4, and caters to mainly Japanese, Korean and Khmer customers.

All this new business is certainly creating a buzz in the National Road 6 strip, and passengers coming from the airport at night will be greeted by the somewhat glamourous neon light show.

Christian de Boer from Shinta Mani reports that “The government of Cambodia has just given us the permission to stage our Made in Cambodia Market twice a week. I am sincerely grateful for their approval and willingness to work with us here at Shinta Mani and make a difference in the lives of so many.”

The market will now be held every Saturday and Sunday from 4pm onwards and Christian adds, “We are still working on the details but I am expecting 50+ stalls to participate (including companies like Cambolac that are the sole employer of the deaf) and thus it will have a tremendous affect.

"A lot of the souvenirs are fabricated by large machines in either Taiwan, China or elsewhere. This market hopes to change that a tiny little bit and thus help to benefit the Khmer that are in need of respect and jobs.”


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