Phnom Penh Pub Page – May 2014

It has been another quiet month for the Pub Page – the New Year’s holiday puts a bit of a damper on my pub crawling activities – especially given how many hostesses head back to the provinces. I was actually surprised this year that a few of the hostess bars stays opened – particularly given how many businesses and restaurants were closed, but there were at least a few hard working, although bored, souls trying in vain to keep customers spirits up over the New Year break.

Being a long time comic geek – of course I had to go to Spiderman bar on 136 st once I saw the sign –I was somewhat concerned about supporting an institution that makes such cavalier use of other’s intellectual property but I was assured that Marvel – which is owned by Disney (which is well known for its hostesses) – has given authorization for the use of its intellectual property in this commercial venture – after all what better advertisement is there for the global release of Spider Man 2 (although if the villain had been Dr. Octopus it would have worked better with the multiple staff massage shtick at the bar…). The bar itself is the latest to take over from Casa Lika restaurant – you may remember I reviewed Skippy a while back and was not that thrilled. Spiderman is an improvement (lots of points for the name) with a relaxed atmosphere, reasonable music volume and friendly staff who were careful not to cross over to being annoying. There is a pool table and the bar area feels spacious. It was not quite my cup of tea but my friend seemed to enjoy and I will definitely be back – but I am looking forward to seeing some of my dearer characters get better treatment – thoughts of She-Hulk/Scarlett Witch bar are making me droll.

M & Me bar on st 130 was more fun than I expected. It has been around for quite a while, but I never seen to get over to that section of the street – normally Fire bar has exhausted both me and my wallet (and yet I can’t stop myself going back there) but on fear of being put down or having my head cracked open by the Hunchback, I dragged myself across the street with a few dollars in my wallet (twice) so I could get a review done. I was pleasantly surprised. But this really seemed like the kind of bar where your mileage may vary. It was very laid back, comfortable, felt spacious and had a very friendly vibe. For many, I suspect the .75c draft would be a huge draw – that may be the lowest draft price I have seen in a hostess bar. I saw a few guys having a grand time in there but they left shortly after I arrived (guess watching an investigative journalist at work was too much for them), but for the most part, on the two times I went, it was pretty dead customer wise. My two cents – come for a quiet relaxing time (and cheap beer) or bring your own party.

The pub page hit a few room tops along the river this month. We have already hit FCC so we started this month a block up the street at Le Moon which is the rooftop bar of the Amanjaya Hotel. I had never been up there before and had expected to enter from Kwest but it turned out that you enter through the hotel lobby. Given its location at the north corner of the death intersection in front of Wat Ounalom it is no surprise that this bar has an amazing North/East view over the city and river – it is a large terrace with small tables set up along the edge to enjoy the view and comfortable couches set up in the middle area. Service was friendly and finger foods were on the menu at reasonable prices. Prices were in the high reasonable category – Tiger mugs were $2.5 with a lot of the beers about 5,000 riel dearer and most cocktails at $4.5 – be warned VAT was added to the bill. Overall a really nice place to relax and enjoy the view. It is open from 5pm – 1 am. No evidence of a happy hour – which was a surprise given the excellent one downstairs.

We next crawled up to the Quay. Nice if narrower view (the walls on three sides basically restrict you to a river view – which I still think is pretty sweet) despite being a bit higher than Le Moon. Great happy hour – from 5:30 – 7 it is 50% off almost everything – I was told coffee, water and bottled beers were excepted. Actually I want to praise the staff who thought to inform us that our bottled beers were not happy – much better to find out while we were ordering (so we could change to cheaper drinks) than to find out when you are paying your bill). Without the happy hours drinks were a bit pricy – draft was a very reasonable $1.5 but a lot of the cocktails seemed to be in the $6-8 range and the imported beers were about $6. A full menu was available and while I have not eaten there lately, I have done so a few times before and the food was always excellent.

Last up before we ran out of steam and went to Sharky (which was reasonably busy with a bunch of people enjoying a pool tournament on a Weds night) was Frangiapania which is the rooftop bar of the Bougainvillier Restaurant/Hotel. It was a very nice rooftop – good view – very relaxing – and I was surprised as the evening went on to see it get a few more tables of customers (we were about it when we arrived during their happy hour) because you have to walk up five floors to get to it – yup no elevator, The walk down was much easier than the walk up but I would not want to try it if I was too polluted. It is worth the walk though – happy hour was 5 to 7 and it was 2 for 1 on draft beer, wine and cocktails. Draft was a very reasonably $1.5 for Angkor and $2 for tiger and cocktails for $4-5.5 – so you can really make the climb worth your while. A full menu was available for dining and the bits I saw brought to other table looked good.