Around & Out – December 2014

The Foodie

The Chat ‘n’ Chew on st.172 has been an expat recommendation floating around for some time now. The Foodie heads there to see if it gets the Foodie seal of approval.

The place was so packed on arrival, there was a birthday party going on, that we couldn’t get a seat to start with. After a quick beer over the street we returned to grab the one small table that was available. Like many of the places on the street old school rattan furniture is scattered around to be arranged as necessary, today a huge long table ran through the bar.

We were seated just to the side next to a wall covered in photographs of rural Cambodian scenes, available for purchase if you’d like a souvenir of your meal, or your trip. There are two tables by the entrance doors for street side dining they are the choice seats in the house and usually full.

The menu features budget Asian dishes, and mid-range international fare. The most expensive dish being the Beef Wellington which I’ll have to return for as my appetite wasn’t up to it after a large lunchtime BBQ. I opted for the Pad Thai, and my partner the Spaghetti Carbonara. The drinks list has a decent amount of cocktails, a few wine choices by the glass, and reasonably cheap beers. Draught is $1, we ordered one of those and a mixed fruit shake.

The fruit shake was white and nicely aerated with the sweet flavor of mango most pronounced, and a nice background provided by the other fruits. The beer was that same old amber nectar that still manages to taste good every time.

The food arrived just after my second beer, good portions served in large deep pasta plates were a promising start. The Pad Thai featured large chunks of chicken in sauce topping the pasta with a sprinkling of peanuts and some assorted salad items. It was tasty to eat, but not completely authentic with the sweet flavor of the sauce failing to be balanced by the salty fish sauce or sour lime, and a complete lack of spice. The dish was tasty, but I can’t say I’ve ever had the need to add Tabasco to a Thai dish before.

The Carbonara was closer to the traditional dish, but as the menu had stated the sauce was creamy, and a little heavy, which isn’t authentic, but the flavors were good, and that made it one of the better versions of this dish that I’ve tried at this price point. With the price taken into account they get Foodie’s approval, for the budget dishes. Would the environment hold up for a more expensive meal with wine, we’ll have to check that out another day.

On the Town

Slur bar boasts one of the better stage set ups in town, and the Mekong Messengers are one of the smoother bands here, put those together and you can expect a slick show. Kristen is a classically trained singer with a love for good ol’ blues and soul. Her voice warm and rich as she belts out soulful vocals.

Accompanied by a fine selection of Phnom Penh’s resident musicians she gets the crowd dancing with rock, soul and blues classics by artists such as Dusty Springfield, Dolly Parton, Etta James and Aretha Franklin.

Catch up with the Mekong Messengers mid-December at Equinox in Phnom Penh, or up in Siem Reap for a special New Years’s Eve performance.