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K-West - "An American in Paris Heads to Phnom Penh"

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

Despite what my European and Aussie friends think, some people do appreciate a tinge of the American dining experience - and K-West is such a place. I mean, who is going to turn down a banana split when faced with one?

Lucky for my Aussie dining partner, K-West, pleasantly situated on the heavily trafficked corner of Sisowath Quay, does not pigeon-hole itself. It symbolizes a new Phnom Penh. A mixture of French, Khmer, and American cuisine, it capitalizes on layers of history. Feel like wonton soup followed by steak tartar and a brownie sundae? You got it.

A spacious room with high ceilings, the slightly clinical feel you get upon entering is outweighed by over-eager young hostesses, Asian art, and commodious booths suited for lengthy meals. K-West caters to a diverse crowd.

Don't be fooled by the barong menu, its business following is mainly young Khmer professionals; Asian tourists stop in from attached Amanjaya Hotel. "Regulars" sit at the bar with laptops and iPods.

Neon-colored lighting above the waterside view and a drink list featuring Cosmo, Americano, and Pink Lady might place the bar scene in Miami, but the dinner crowd is politely separated, and the relaxed atmosphere wins out in the end - persuading you to linger. Céline, the lovely French manager, will likely be seen chatting with customers or giving novice staff friendly guidance.

An abundant menu allows picky eaters to find a suitable dish, and for indecisive customers, a recommendations menu features new items each month. We commenced with a seafood pastry and French onion soup.

The pastry was delightful - ample fresh salmon, shrimp, squid, and mussels in a cream sauce that wasn't too overpowering, meaning we could enjoy the adeptly cooked dough. Although an onion soup lover, it's rare to finish an entire bowl - but I saw the bottom of this one. Known to some regulars as a steak-joint, I tried the green pepper steak.

Rare-enough for those of you who like to see some pink juice on your plate; it was complimented by a side of broccoli drenched in butter, but smartly cooked for a non-native vegetable. Second entrée was a captivating spin on salmon; bathed in a tandoori sauce.

Distraught with dessert choices, we agreed on the intriguing watermelon pineapple ice-cream with macaroons and my old favorite, the (American) walnut brownie sundae. Admittedly a choc-aholic, and not one to believe that dessert deserves its name without, I was impressed with our fruity option.

Sweet but refreshing, it was perhaps the more appropriate choice considering my brownie was more cakey than the rich gooey-ness I'd hoped for. Next time, I'll go straight for the mango mint ice-cream with mango sauce - sacrilege for a chocolate lover, but in Phnom Penh, even if the restaurant screams Franco-Americano, mangos are surely the way to go.

On the river front Sisowath Quay


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