new Things I Ate in Cambodia: Anise Terrace Phnom Penh

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Anise Terrace Phnom Penh

Anise Terrace
#2C, Street 278
Boeng Keng Kang 1

The Anise Terrace is a restaurant on Street 278. You know, the one where all the ex-pats congregate on their free time to get massages, lie by the Elsewhere pool, hit on each other at Equinox, and eat.

It's a gorgeous restaurant inside, and is as French-colonial gorgeous as you could possibly ask for, with big wafting fans and chairs you can sink down inside of. And yes, there's a Happy Hour. Gotta have one on 278.

The menu is international, with both Khmer and European selections. There's also fresh pastries on offer and a lot of fruity drinks. There's a club sandwich, a large and tasty Greek salad, a number of sandwiches, and a bunch of Khmer dishes - it's fusion. There's even fish amok ravioli. which I haven't tried yet but sounds like it'd be an awfully good idea.

They make a fine beef loc-lac and an equally fine mashed potato here - my default hangover food.

The amok is very good, with a heavy reliance on Khmer spice paste (kreung) and an intense flavor. Very kaffir-lime intensive. I approve.

There's wi-fi here, cheap drinks, and big swishy fans. It is, on occasion, hard to leave.

I got to talking to the owner's, mainly because I had overheard them discussing Sacramento and was curious. As it turns out, the female half of the pair is part of the Cambodian disapora to California. She grew up in Long Beach, attended UCLA, and then decided to move to Phnom Penh with her American husband and open the place as a second act of sorts. She also mentioned that her parents live in Sacramento, and they visit up there regularly, and ain't that a coincidence?

The second time we visited, we got to talking again. Her parents were in town, fro Sacramento, so of course we discussed it. As it turned out, they lived near our house in Sacramento. Really, really close. A matter of blocks. "Oh, do you use that grocery store?" "Yes, we do! They've got everything!" "And isn't living near the rive nice?"

This was the discussion we had. "That's such a nice neighborhood, you know. Really convenient."

My mother admired a knick-knack in the shape of a pig on the table, and asked where she got it in Cambodia. The owner said, "I get asked about that all the time. As a matter of fact, it's Pier One. Bought it in Sacramento."

We laughed.

The universe is very tiny.

We then segued into the Cambodian-California diaspora, which I find perennially interesting. Sacramento has a ton of Lao and Hmong people, and there are some Cambodians in town too. However, the majority of Cambodians in the central valley reside in Stockton. Apparently, the owners parents head up to Stockton whenever they feel the hankering for some real Cambodian food. We have Lao restaurants in Sacramento, but insofar as I am aware, no Cambodian food.

Next time I'm in California for a while, I think I'm going to head to Stockton and see if I can write a piece. (Perhaps the first interesting thing I have found out about Stockton).

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