Our Cambodia correspondent, Darren Gaul, reports on the latest restaurant opening in Phnom Penh, The Duck
There is a lot of noise being made about the fine and contemporary dining scene in Phnom Penh at the moment; it seems to be exploding with new restaurants, gastro bars, cafes and food outlets. There’s a new addition almost weekly, (or so it seems) accompanied by the requisite marketing and hype.
The Duck restaurant on Sotheros Boulevard, (near Meta House) is a new and exciting addition whose savvy blend of chic and comfort is finding favour with The Penh’s foodies and is managing to be heard above the noise of a thousand opening nights.
Owner Dah Lee has over 30 years of ownership, concept and creation experience in the Food and Beverage and entertainment industry in New Zealand and Australia. With over fifteen original concepts to his name ranging from Café’s, bars, clubs and restaurants that span casual to fine dining, Lee has gained recognition for his strong capabilities in design and food service as well as his market nous in delivering the latest dinning ‘hot spots’. The Duck looks set to follow on in a long line of successful enterprises for Lee.
The Duck restaurant’s space oozes style without appearing pretentious, sleek, dark wood, dim lights, large, soft mirrors and tasty modern art. There is a small, comfortable bar to sit at pre-dinner and a modern, open kitchen so you can watch the chefs perform their magic should you choose.
The wine list is extensive, Dah Lee bringing over his own collection, accumulated over many years to offer a selection of wine previously unavailable in the kingdom, along with a good selection of popular favourites. Prices are reasonable, without being ridiculously cheap, (both a boon and a bane in this town when it comes to getting quality offerings).
Menu and dish construction is another area where Lee’s experience and skill comes to the fore, a concise selection of modern favourites with an added contemporary flourish making for dishes that are familiar yet exciting and finely executed without being overtly fancy.
Lee has spent a considerable amount of time scouring local and imported supplies, insisting on working with product and ingredients that are only of the highest standards and the he is prepared to work with in his cuisine. Dishes and flavours are fresh, clean and often simple, the main ingredient being allowed to shine on the plate without being overly worked or flavor confused.
These are dishes that are sure to please a wide audience of food lovers for their balance of fine dining quality and straight forward flavours and textures. Slow Roasted Beets, Chevre, Balsamic Reduction; Absolut Cured Salmon Gravalax, Crisp Capers, Lime; Lamb Paparadelle, Ragout Tomato, Olives, Lemon Oil, Pecorino; Twice Cooked Osso Bucco, Saffron Risotto, Lemon Gremolata are some of my favourite offerings but, with a name like ‘The Duck’ you can rightly expect the duck dishes to be exceptional, there is also a well-considered selection of vegetarian options.
Prices are very reasonable for food of this standard, I call it mid-range pricing. Service is both eager to please and eager to learn, with a refreshing happy attitude to diner’s cares and needs.
The Duck is already firmly entrenched as one of my new favourite eating establishments and with new opening hours incorporating breakfast and lunch, I expect to get there more often.