Phnom Penh Pub Page – September 2014

Is there a month that is not odd at the Pub Page? I have been struggling with hitting the bars this month as I was recovering from my grievous research related injuries, when the Evil Publisher reminded me that the Pub Page was due and made it clear that no excuses were permitted. Since I hurt myself last time, I was told I needed the Hunchback to supervise/babysit me on my rounds this month. However, when I go out with the Hunchback, all the girls focus on him so I was forced to slip the ankle monitor, scoot under the razor wire and somehow escaping detection, hit a few bars. My drinking arm is mostly healed so I was able to do a few “raise the glass” curls as part of my physiotherapy.

Before I get to bars that I imbibed at, the pub page would like to pay its respects to Chuck Norris Dim Sum R.I.P. Pretend there is a moment of silence now – best late night snacks on 51 st have hit the dust.

On a happier note, there is a new place that should be open around when this article is published – Templar bar at 377 Sisowath Quay just a bit south of the FCC. It is/will be a wine/cocktail/champagne/ whiskey bar (I would have just said bar and not named each major type of beverage served but I am going with the press release provided). It is being opened by the notorious Rob Huxley famed for the eponymous Huxley’s but equally renowned around town for his tours at Sharky (way back in the day), Shanghai and most recently Cavern (where he also got to play with a lot of sausages). I was told there will be food available with a BBQ on weekends and with my fond recollections of Rob’s version of the Shanghai BBQ, I am already drooling in anticipation.

Wondering around this month, I was intrigued by 179 Bar on St 172. It was not the friendly staff sitting outside that got my attention, nor the exterior decor – it was the fact that they were clearly named 172 bar at some point but someone decided it needed a name change and pasted a ‘9’ over the ‘2’. Clearly the bar was in disguise and I wanted to see if it had something to hide. It was actually a fairly nice set up inside – despite the wall to wall sound dampening egg carton-esque decor – and felt spacious and comfortable. I was fairly happy with the set up and the music, I was actually able to have a conversation with the staff (always a pleasant surprise – however you want to take that). Service was good and this place is well worth a stop on my next slither through 172 st.

Actually hopped over to Spicy Girl bar on the other end of this block of 172 st as well. A number of people had been recommending it to me lately. Boisterous may be an understatement here. Staff still very friendly and the customers seemed to be having a great time. A bit louder than I usually like so I wondered off but nuff said.

Over on 136 st, we hit Cozy Bar – was quite surprised to see they had set up a patio bar as well – unfortunately, it is just a block to far west for good people watching but it makes a pleasant change of pace to sitting inside another bar all night. It was fairly busy when we came by but I have a note to come back again soon (have to reward innovation). However this place also seemed to be trying to confuse this reviewer as it had signs indicating it was also named Bob bar and Sexy Girl – luckily I know how to find it if not what to call it.

Managed to hit Helicopter bar again – it has been quite a while – it was fairly rowdy when we got there as they seemed to have a bit of a celebration going on (among some customers). It was so loud that we had trouble speaking but that was more about happy customers than about the bar itself. Overall, a fun place to drop by – standard hostess bar – but I do wish they had a real helicopter inside – in the spirit of how the Airport Club in Sihanoukville used to have the Anotov plane suspended in the bar. Not saying it would be practical here but with a name like this – it would be cool – and get much more of my business.

Also settled at VVIP bar for a bit – I have not wondered in there in many months but hit it three times in a couple of weeks. Really quite happy with the place – well set up – lots of couch space – good music levels (and when we requested them to lower the volume at one point, they did it without scowling (a huge plus that got me back there the next night)). Pool table upstairs with space to play. Staff is friendly without being annoying, I went with three different friends and everyone enjoyed.

Scooting up to 104 st, we have saved the big news for last – Barry has finally sold 104 Bar. Despite his threats to do so over the years, I was still shocked – he has been an anchor on that street for most of a decade. I have very fond memories of dropping by after work to play Croix (although we used to call it Droha) with Bob (still my favourite cashier of all time). Happily, the bar has moved into excellent hands (and even happier, Barry can still be found sauced up at Cavern), and is now owned by the sisters who brought you Oasis and Xanadu on 136 st. I was there on their last night before it closed for renovations and it sounded like they had some ideas for revamping the space and were excited to be back as owners on 104 st. The bar should have re-opened by now and the pub page will be back for a proper visit soon.

That rounds up this month – hopefully will get more of an urge to try new places next month – but it is so hard to stay away from the hostessesssss.