Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Late lunch at Kampuchea

Kampuchea Restaurant: StoreWe read about Kampuchea several months ago, and had been planning to dine there for a long time but somehow never materialized -- until now. A late lunch sounded like a good idea (hint: less crowd).

The first think we noticed was the mural of a giant rooster on the wall next to the entrance. Certainly a little different. As we walked in certain things stood out: the wooden tables and stools, the smallish open kitchen, and the wine rack on the wall.

Kampuchea Restaurant: Interior Kampuchea Restaurant: Interior
The interior

Our waitress was very nice and helpful, she gave us some good recommendations and suggestions on what to try. That coupled with some prior knowledge from other bloggers and reviewers, we ordered the tamarind baby back ribs, catfish savory crepes, and sandwich tasting (which came with a choice of 3 sandwiches). If we had some room left, we would try the noodle.

The tamarind baby back ribs was good, the meat was very tender and tasty -- they fell off the bone easily -- with a dab of a spicy glaze brushed on the surface. It came with a lime dipping sauce, and (even more) spicy pickle. We discovered the best way to enjoy the ribs was to eat it with the dipping sauce to cool it down, followed by a little bit of the pickle. It was hot, sour and cool at the same time but in a good way.

Kampuchea Restaurant: Tamarind baby back ribs (close up)
Tamarind baby back ribs

The catfish savory crepes was our favorite, even though the sauce was a little bit on the sweet side that it just too overpowering on its own. Fortunately it came with a bowl of fresh lettuce, which the waitress explained should be used to wrap the catfish nuggets. The 'wrap' certainly brought the sweetness down and worked very well with the dip. Note that it only came with 2 lettuce, so you're bound to have leftover catfish -- which we just ate with the crepes.

Kampuchea Restaurant: Catfish, ground pepper, honey soy, sesame seed (close up)
Catfish, ground pepper, honey soy, sesame seed crepe

Lastly was the sandwich tasting. We chose sweet pulled oxtail, hoisin pork meat balls, and coconut tiger shrimp. The last time I ate oxtail was at Brasserie 8 1/2, which was really good so I had high expectations. I wasn't disappointed, as the oxtail was very tender and tasty, my favorite out of our three choices. My husband, though, preferred the meat balls. Although the meat balls were tender, for me it was only ok, maybe because there was not enough sauce. The shrimp was disappointing, as it again didn't have enough spices in my opinion.

Kampuchea Restaurant: Num pang (sandwich) tasting (another view)
Num Pang (sandwich) tasting

At the end, we were full and decided not to get the noodles, maybe next time?

After we paid the bill (wow, they certainly add up), we walked back to our car which was parked right in front of 'inoteca (on the other end of the block). Eventhough I was full, there's always room for dessert. In my world, the meal is not complete without it. So, we stopped by teany (which was on the same block) to take a peek, and perhaps to grab a dessert. Sadly there was nothing of interest. Next to teany was another small cafe called Bruschetteria, no dessert but maybe it's worth a future visit.

teany: Store Bruschetteria: Store 'inoteca: Store
Lots of restaurants on this block

Then I remembered that Chef Pichet Ong just opened a bakery next to his famed P*ong restaurant, so I made an executive decision to go pay a visit to Batch.


Kampuchea Restaurant
78 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 529-3901

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