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Metro - "Where Hip Meets Phnom Penh"

By: Claire Superfine Posted: January-01-2006 in
Claire Superfine

You don't meet a "founding father" everyday - but I got lucky, and met one from Phnom Penh's nascent restaurant industry. Determined to make Metro Café a success, Aussie owner - Tom - is golden. Recognizing a void of restaurants outside backpacker joints or traditional Khmer, the former chef has identified a niche.

Metro's swanky yet hospitable atmosphere allows an eclectic crowd to enjoy one thing they share - a taste for modern cosmopolitan class. If trends exist for imitation, I hope Metro is no exception.

This young business venture already boasts a foray into corporate social responsibility - vocational training is offered in-house to local kids through the Cambodian Children's Fund.

Situated directly on the riverfront, full-length windows and secluded outdoor dining make the café seem cavernous, but the cozy space fosters integration of patrons. Décor is catchy, but not loud - aside from the chameleon-like bar that changes color every 20 seconds so you can admire the cutie across the way under varying light motifs.

Lunch is the busiest hour; Khmer professionals enjoy refreshing salads and sandwiches at glass tables or outside in shady corners. Expats favor the happy hour scene and casually sip cocktails.

Chocolate martinis speak to trend-setters, while hipsters prefer a Jame Boaggs (a Tazmanian boutique beer that my Aussie dining mate informed me he'd seen no where else in Phnom Penh).

Metro proudly claims one unusual set of devotees - young Khmer women. Desiring to be part of the "scene" without being spotted in questionable nightclubs, these professionals come to chat with friends and enjoy the urban beat.

Although professing not to attract tourists, a few tend to show up - like the fraternity brothers I spotted at the bar. (Yes, your backwards caps give you away.)

The menu implies Sydney meets Bangkok tapas, which is hardly surprising given Metro's trendiness and the yuppie puppy fashion of small dish dining. But these dishes are flavorful enough to be small, and if you like meat, you're in luck.

Beginning with shrimp, scallop and bacon satay, I considered pinching my dining mate's portion. Next, our lusty forks moved to two small dishes; shitake pork dumplings and pe

Metro Cafe


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