Artillery – Eating Clean in Phnom Penh

With all the fresh produce and incredible fruit you can find in the markets of Phnom Penh, it’s quite easy to eat healthily – but I was in Cambodia over the Christmas season, and with all the usual Christmas treats combined with tropical cocktails I wasn’t feeling particularly tiptop.

Artillery, Phnom PenhArtillery, Phnom PenhArtillery, Phnom Penh

Enter ARTillery cafe – calls of ‘healthy’, ‘organic’, ‘homemade’, and, of course, ‘free wifi’ drew me down a charming little alley on Street 240 (note: in the same alley you can find Public House, Bar Sito and Alley Cafe). Artillery is a teal-coloured mecca of superfoods, juices and all manner of clean-eating. Vegans, health fanatics and coeliacs rejoice, as Artillery Cafe will have something for you.

Hummus, Artillery, Phnom PenhVitamin Vitalizer, Artillery, Phnom Penh

I ordered a Vitamin Vitalizer juice (carrot, ginger, lime and apple), and grazed on some homemade hummus as I waited for my lunch companion. I’m pretty particular about my hummus, and I was pleased with Artillery’s offering – even more pleased by the stacked vegetables.

Hummus, Artillery, Phnom Penh

My friend ordered the Phnom Penher smoothie – a blend of dragonfruit, lemongrass, ginger, lime and honey, which left me with drink envy for the rest of the meal. It’s not the prettiest of smoothies, but my god is it delicious.

Phnom Penher, Artillery Cafe

For my main, I went for the raw pizza, as everything on the raw menu was gluten-free (as well as dairy-free, sugar-free and meat-free). My raw pizza consisted of sun-dried tomatoes and nut cheese on a flax and almond crust, topped with some assorted greens. It was crisp, sharp and refreshing – but nothing at all like a pizza – I think of it more as a crispbread.

Raw Pizza, Artillery, Phnom PenhDSC01244

My friend went for a seasonal special – a brown rice bowl topped with kombu, local vegetables, sesame seeds and cabbage.

Brown Rice Bowl, Artillery, Phnom Penh

For my next visit, I’m really keen to try the breakfast menu – gluten-free pancakes, muesli with a Clean Green (apple, mint, spinach) sounds right up my street.

For fresh juice and a guilt-free dining experience you can’t beat Artillery for their vast selection. But for those who don’t consider a meal complete without some meat (like all the men in my family) then Artillery might not be the place for you.

ARTillery cafe can be found on Street 240 1/2 laneway, near St 19
behind Wat Botum, near the Royal Palace, or at their second location on Street 278 #13B, near St 63, close to Wat Lanka, behind Lucky Market Sihanouk.

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

The Common Tiger, Phnom Penh

Happy 2015! It has been an age since I last posted – after Christmas I was off to Kep and Kampot, Phuket and Koh Phi Phi for New Year’s Eve then back to the UK (after I stopped off at Hong Kong). Blogging had to take a backseat while I got back into the swing of things, but I’m excited to be back in the swing of things.

The Common Tiger, Phnom Penh

I’ve definitely had the post-holiday blues since I’ve been back in the UK, and looking back on the photos I took at The Common Tiger hasn’t made it any easier.

The Common Tiger, Phnom Penh

My visit to the capital was fleeting, but I managed to get to The Common Tiger twice during my visit – the first time for lunch, the second time to sample the tasting menu I’d been hearing so much about. Each visit was an absolute delight – each dish, course or cocktail so carefully considered, each plate was a work of art. It didn’t just look pretty either – the expert use of combining locally sourced ingredients and flavours to create something new, described as ‘progressively Asian‘ – ensures that they’ve really got fusion cuisine spot on at The Common Tiger.

The Common Tiger, Phnom Penh

The decor is minimal and effortlessly cool, a lovely space and atmosphere that doesn’t distract from the main attraction – the menu.

Lunch

Beetroot gin cocktail, Common Tiger Phnom Penh

My first visit to The Common Tiger was for lunch. We booked ahead, although we didn’t need to (lunchtime on a Tuesday – does anyone anywhere need to book a table for that time?). I had a gin cocktail with some kind of beetroot in it, if I recall correctly – followed by a duck curry, which looked too beautiful that I almost didn’t want to eat it. But of course I did, and it was exquisite – the duck was perfectly balanced – just the right amount of juicy flesh, the skin perfectly crisp.

Duck Curry, The Common Tiger, Phnom Penh Duck Curry, The Common Tiger, Phnom Penh

I was thoroughly impressed – even the latte was picture perfect.

Latte, The Common Tiger, Phnom Penh

Dinner

We booked ahead for the tasting menu (a requirement, if I remember correctly). I’d heard so much about it from several different sources in Phnom Penh that I was steeling myself for disappointment as I was sure they wouldn’t be able to deviate from the menu, or make any gluten free substitutions. Luckily for me, the staff at The Common Tiger were extremely accommodating, and I was able to enjoy an almost identical menu to my dinner companions, just without the bread (brown bread – a sought after commodity in Phnom Penh, it seems) as well as the crispy skin on the pan-fried fish and some kind of cashew biscuit that came with dessert.

Tuna Sashimi, The Common Tiger, Phnom Penh

The seasons and the market dictate the menu at The Common Tiger, which means it isn’t set or available online – and as so much time has passed I really won’t be able to do some of these courses justice. I’ll try to describe each as best as I can recall, but each dish has so many ingredients, infusions and intricate details that you’ll just have to take my word that it was one of the best tasting menus I’ve ever had.

Tuna Sashimi, The Common Tiger, Phnom Penh

The first course was a tuna sashimi dish served with banana heart, served with a light shaving of truffle. This was followed by a crab dish, then a course of fish with pak choi served with perfectly cooked quail eggs – perfectly soft-boiled.

Crab, The Common Tiger, Phnom Penh Fish and Quail Egg, The Common Tiger, Phnom Penh Fish, The Common Tiger, Phnom Penh

The fourth course was duck breast again, though this was lighter than the lunch: served with a few greens.

Duck, The Common Tiger, Phnom Penh

The final course, which looks like a miniature city of Oz, was a magical combination of pomelo, jackfruit, white chocolate, ricotta mousse and mint. I’m not the biggest fan of desserts usually, but this, as well as the whole tasting menu, was nothing short of spectacular.

Dessert, The Common Tiger, Phnom PenhDessert, The Common Tiger, Phnom PenhDessert, The Common Tiger, Phnom Penh

5 Stars (5 / 5)

No. 20, Street 294, Phnom Penh, Cambodia 12000 | +855 23 212917 / +855 92 963 920
Mon-Sat 12:00 – 22:00

Things to do in Phnom Penh: Sunset Cruise

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! I feel so lucky to be spending it in such a vibrant, exciting and warm place surrounded by loved ones. We’ve been doing a lot of festive activities (drinking, eating, caroling), and although we’ve got a Christmas playlist on an almost constant loop, I can’t say I’m feeling particularly Christmassy, though we’re having a lot of fun. I spent today on another Cambodian cooking course (read about the first one I went on here), a great experience which I’ll be writing up shortly!

Sunset Cruise, Phnom Penh Sunset Cruise, Phnom Penh Sunset Cruise, Phnom Penh Sunset Cruise, Phnom Penh

One thing I really regretted not doing last time I was in Phnom Penh was going on a sunset cruise. It’s well worth doing – the heart of Phnom Penh lies close to where the Mekong river meets the Ton Le Sap, which changes the direction of its flow once a year. While floating down the river you can see the Royal Palace, and landmarks like the Vattanac Tower on one bank – and on the other, the new, including the new Sokha hotel in Phnom Penh.

Sunset Cruise, Phnom Penh Sunset Cruise, Phnom Penh Sunset Cruise, Phnom Penh Sunset Cruise, Phnom Penh

We brought our own prosecco and took in the view, as well as the bats flying alongside and above the boat. As we had prearranged dinner plans, we didn’t bring our own food, but our drinks stayed chilled in the ice box that was provided. The boat was lovely – wooden, attractive and more sophisticated than some of the gaudy monstrosities that often trap tourists wanting to go on a boat tour. We only hired the boat for an hour, but with seating provided it would be a great idea for a romantic evening – especially as almost all restaurants in Phnom Penh deliver, getting some take out and taking it on a sunset cruise would be something I’d love to do in the future.

royal palace, sunset cruise, phnom penh Sunset Cruise, Phnom Penh Sunset Cruise view, Phnom Penh Sunset Cruise, Phnom Penh

We paid $30 for an hour with Crocodile Cruise – it’s definitely worth booking ahead, as we saw several tourists jump on the first cruise they saw. We were able to have the whole boat for our group, at a really reasonable rate. I’ve got another few posts lined up before I go to Kampot and Kep on Boxing Day, followed by New Year’s eve in Phuket and possibly some of the islands too.

Hope you are all having a lovely Christmas eve!

Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh

I arrived in Phnom Penh on Monday. It’s the second time I’ve been here in 2014 and I am so glad to be back! After a fairly uneventful journey (the only blip being Cathay Pacific serving regular bread with the on flight gluten-free meal, which was not ideal – never trust the bread!), I’ve been spending my first week unwinding by the pool, going for walks with the family and catching up on some last-minute Christmas shopping.

Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh

One of my favourite things about Phnom Penh is the great boutique hotel and restaurant scene. Sure, you get some of the same chains here that you do everywhere else, but there are so many options for going out – great bars, independent restaurants, shops and galleries that I can’t wait to cover this trip! The cocktails here are also incredible – and for about an eighth of London prices too. It’s safe to say that so far, I’m having a pretty incredible Christmas.

One of the first places I went for lunch here was Friends the Restaurant, #215 Street 13 in Phnom Penh. It came highly recommended by my friends, not just due to the menu – a selection of Asian and Western-inspired tapas – but because of the restaurants’ work with the local community. Friends is a TREE restaurant, providing on-the-job training and skills for marginalized street youth, giving them valuable skills to help secure their futures. I love this idea, and there are several places throughout Cambodia that have initiatives like these, which are absolutely great as you can really see the programs at work. Last time I was here, I went to Dine in the Dark, another great experience that I thoroughly enjoyed, and a great social initiative.

Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh

We sat in the outside area, guided there by a member of staff in a ‘student’ t-shirt. The students and the teachers of the program can be told apart in this way – often the students would be waiting on tables with the watchful eye of the teachers nearby.

I loved the concept for this restaurant, and for this reason I hadn’t particularly set the bar high regarding the food. I was really pleasantly surprised after being presented with a simple but charming and imaginative tapas menu, with locally sourced ingredients and flavours.

pineapple and chilli margarita Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh

I had a pineapple and chilli margarita with my meal, and really liked the combination (I’ll have chilli in anything given half a chance), but it’s certainly not for everyone. The drinks menu was extensive, with lots of variety, which is always a plus.

zucchini cheddar fritters Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh zucchini cheddar fritters Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh

2-3 plates per person are recommended, between $4.50 – $8 per plate, with some dishes (like the 3B burger) slightly more, around $15. We went for the crispy zucchini and cheddar fritters, baby squid with Kampot pepper and rice wine, a grilled beef fillet with daikon and chive flowers served with a wasabi mirin vinaigrette and the sun-dried tomato hummus with crispy wonton wrappers.

hummus and wonton wrappers Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh beef with kampot pepper and daikon Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh

The vegetarian options were my definite favourite – I loved the fritters, which were served with a chilli mayonnaise sauce, and the hummus, tomato and basil-topped wonton wrappers were lovely.

The squid and beef fillet were also tasty – I love daikon, but the whole Kampot peppercorns were a slight surprise and biting into them was not a particularly pleasant experience, despite the fact that I love the stuff.

Baby squid with kampot pepper, Friends the Restaurant, Phnom PenhFriends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh

Besides the fritters, the dessert was my favourite part of the meal. I clearly hadn’t had enough pineapple or chilli with my margarita, as I went straight for the caramelised pineapple with chilli ice cream. The warm caramel and pineapple combined with the cold ice cream was a real treat for the senses. I loved the ice cream – it seemed to be warm and cool at the same time, really unusual and something I’d definitely try again.

caramelised pineapple, chilli icecream Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penhcaramelised pineapple and chilli icecream Friends the Restaurant, Phnom Penh

At some points there seemed to be a lull in service, despite Friends the restaurant not being particularly packed, but that might be due to the fact that we missed the lunchtime rush. I really enjoyed my Friends dining experience – a nice, interesting meal for a worthy cause.

Friends the restaurant is located at : #215 Street 13, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
+855 12 802 072

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

Shoryu Soho – Delicious Gluten Free Ramen in London

Shoryu’s tonkotsu bone broth with gluten-free rice noodles packs a whole lot of flavour and umami, while their gluten-free hirata buns are filled with deliciously crisp fillings and perfectly matched sauces. Shoryu have completely mastered the art of creating delicious gluten-free dishes that don’t compromise on flavour or texture.

Shoryu Sohoshoryu ganso tonkotsu gluten free shoryu london

It wasn’t the first time I’d been to Shoryu, but it was my first time at the Soho location, just near Piccadilly Circus on Denman Street. I’ve been a massive fan of Shoryu for a while – I’d done a review around a year ago on this site, but wanted to focus more on the gluten-free offerings available.

Shoryu Soho, London

The atmosphere at Shoryu is pretty casual – the trendy black and gold Asia-inspired fusion decor, combined with the fact that it’s always brimming with people gives the place a lively atmosphere. Depending on the size of your party, you’re usually sat immediately next to strangers on a long table, in line with the way ramen is traditionally consumed – hurriedly eaten seated beside strangers. One thing worth keeping in mind is that they refuse to seat incomplete parties, so if you are the type to get ‘hangry’, it might be worth coordinating beforehand.

Salmon Hirata bun - Shoryu London

My dinner companion was the lovely Priscilla from Food Porn Nation, formerly based in Sydney but currently blogging in London, and a fellow ramen fan. Once we’d been seated, we immediately got stuck in to the menu, questioning the waitstaff thoroughly regarding their personal preferences and recommendations. We started our meal with a bottle of umeshu – a Japanese plum wine which is a particular weakness of mine. Although delicious and enjoyable, it is quite sweet, and not necessarily a beverage I’d recommend with savoury hirata buns or ramen (although I will definitely end up ordering it again).

Tori Karaage Gluten Fre Hirata Bun - Shoryu London

For starters, we went for the Shoryu hirata buns – their take on the steamed Taiwanese street food trend, which involves steamed bread-like buns filled with various savoury fillings. The gluten-free options for the buns included chicken karaage, a Japanese fried chicken dish made with potato starch (see my recipe here), as well a ginger salmon option. I was completely enamored with the latter – the crispy salmon skin combined with the soft texture of the warm bun was exquisite. The gluten-free buns were really something – I didn’t feel, as I often feel when having the gluten-free option, that I was missing out on anything at all.

Chicken karaage gluten free hirata buns shoryu londonchicken karaage gluten free hirata buns

For the main course I went for the restaurant’s signature dish – the Shoryu Ganso Tonkotsu ramen. I substituted the regular wheat noodles for gluten-free rice noodles, similar to those found in Pho. The Tonkotsu broth is made by boiling down and reducing pork bones for hours on end, creating a rich, creamy flavour and consistency to the broth. I decided to go for the Shoryu Ganso Broth and skipped the nitamago which accompanies many of the ramen dishes, as the boiled egg is flavoured with soy sauce. Other gluten-free options are available, like Tori Karaage-men, which is made with a shiitake mushroom and kombu seaweed and soy broth.

Shoryu ganso tonkotsu ramen gluten freeshoryu ganso tonkotsu ramen gluten free shoryu soho

As always, the ramen was spot on – the flavours of the broth were rich, delicious and comforting – and while the rice noodles didn’t quite compare to their gluten-filled equivalent, they were still satisfying.

shoryu ganso tonkotsu ramen gluten free

Despite thinking we were well and truly stuffed, we ordered a couple of the mochi on the strong recommendation of our waiter, who favoured the raspberry and chocolate one in particular. Luckily, these were also gluten-free: the first bite was slightly surprising, as I was still expecting the traditional red-bean filling for the dessert, but the raspberry mochi (a sweet rice cake) was unbelievable – tart yet sweet, indulgent yet light – a definite winner. I wasn’t as keen on the Tiramisu, but that could be due to the fact that I am not a Tiramisu fan generally.

Shoryu mochi

Around three or four sets of diners had come and go in the time it had taken us to finish our meal – not particularly unusual when a couple of food bloggers go for dinner.  The service was prompt and efficient, yet I didn’t feel pressured or rushed at all to leave – the entire meal was extremely pleasant, and came to around £35 per head.

I strongly recommend Shoryu for gluten-free diners and their companions – a delicious meal in a low-key, smart-casual atmosphere in several locations: you’re onto a winner.

4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

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