Phnom Penh Pub Page – October 2014

First some updates.

Actually to get this out of the way – Skirts!!

Last month I was fascinated with 179 Bar (or at least the way the real name was being hidden) – so of course it has now closed or at least it is being heavily renovated at writing.
I was also interested in following up on how 104 Bar would look under the new regime – been there a couple of times since it re-opened – I actually miss the big tables in the front (there are some relatively minor (to me) aesthetic changes but the tables and loss of foosball are what I noticed most) and am curious what they are going to do with the space between the main bar and the washrooms. However, the new couches out front do add a different feel to the place and as you would expect from the owners of Xanadu and Oasis, the club seems to running smoothly and I will be back.

The Pub Page rarely gets any feedback; although I guess it is possible that the hunchback is hiding and doing horrible things with all my fan mail – so I am frequently left wondering whether anyone actually reads the page, let alone those worthy bar owners that graciously put up with my pathetic excuse for investigative reporting. So you can imagine I was really thrilled to get actual written evidence that someone had read their review. A couple of months ago I hit Angry Bird Bar – while I enjoyed the renovated space itself, I sent a clear message to Rovio to debug quickly unless they wanted to turn the place into some kind of red bird mini card game. Angry Bird’s reply was particularly noteworthy and even led to the evil Publisher launching into a maniacal laugh when he read it. I have some notable excerpts below:

“Rovio (Cambodian hostess bar expansion unit) has taken your honest and forthright comments fully on board and the screaming ladies card club has been banished forever.”

“The Angry Birds staff have also been re-programmed by launching them from catapults into nearby buildings to remind them of the Angry Birds culture and theme.”

“They have emerged fully re-energised, enthusiastic and ready to welcome future visits by you and other customers.”

While the Pub Page does not actually recommend launching bar stuff from catapults, I have to appreciate the effect it had. Given that the Cambodian hostess bar expansion unit had put such care into its retraining and filing its report, I felt the need to revisit it and test the efficacy of Rovio’s innovative training methodologies. The bar was busier – on a night when most bars I went to were far emptier – the staff was friendly without getting annoying – music was still at a very reasonable level – and the expansion pack has arrived (there seemed to be an increased number of staff). IGN (Intoxicated Gropers Network – not to be confused with the famous gaming review site) gives the update two thumbs up (and maybe a little more as well). Thanks to the HBEU for reporting in and even more thanks for retraining – it seems to have stuck (much as the staff probably did after the catapulting).

On to some new bars – first up was Oh La La at the corner of 136 St. and Sisowath. I have been waiting for quite a while to see what would happen to this space. While the construction hoarding seems to have stayed up for quite a while, I was really happy with the results. The space comes off as simple but had a good open feel. We ended up planting ourselves on the patio which gave a great view of the riverfront street life as well as (thanks to some impressive scheduling) a nice view of staff coming to work along 136 St. Good service but we were not hungry so could not really evaluate the food but there was a reasonable selection. The drinks were quite reasonable given the appearance of the place – draft beer was $1.5 with a jug for $5.5; cans of Cambodia beer were $2, most mixed drinks were $2.5-3 with cocktails coming in at $4. For those with a more refined palate, house wines were $4. Not the cheapest place in town, but a nice relaxing place for some people watching and a few quiet drinks before, during or after a hostess bar crawl.

Walking down 136 St., I noticed Heart Attack Bar for the first time. Was very impressed with the place – particularly as they managed to stay hidden from me for 2-3 months. The bar felt spacious and the music was at a good volume. Staff was very friendly and kept us amused. To be honest, I was a bit too drunk to remember how much things cost but I am pretty sure we had a good time here and I will make it back – ok – not my most detailed review but at least it was positive. I also seem to recall some explanation about renovations being done to the upstairs but I was lucky to remember that much so have no idea what they are doing up there.

Next on the tour was the immodestly named Simply the Best Bar on 130 St. The bar is about six weeks old according to the staff who chatted me up. I was about to turn left on 130 St but happened to glance over and catch this place out of the corner of my eye. On the plus side, the bar is open from noon until 3 am or later – more importantly, it runs a happy hour from opening until 8 pm at night with buy one get one free for beer and spirits. If I was able to decipher things properly, the second shift starts around 6 and the first shift leaves around 8 so there appears to be an extra happy hour when they bar has two times the staff and the drinks are half the price – now that makes me happy. Pretty simple place – felt roomy in the main section with a pool table in the back. Not sure how accurate the name is but it was a worthwhile stop and I will be back.