BKK1’s new Burger King has been a whopping success. Reporter Marissa Carruthers and photographer Charles Fox check it out.

Burger King landing in BKK1 has been a blessing for fast food junkies like myself. Gone are the lengthy tuk-tuk trips to the airport to satisfy a craving for those far-from-gourmet cheeseburgers and crispy fries.

It seems I’m not the only one to welcome this fast food brand. Phnom Penh’s BKK outlet is pretty much always packed. Trying to find a seat, especially at weekends, can be a difficult task, and battling the mob that crowds around the tills takes a while to get the hang of. On my visits, I’ve got to the cashier after a five-minute wait.

While the burger-heavy menu is not as extensive as in some countries (it’s missing ingredient being breakfast items), it boasts the usual Burger King staples. Sadly, I found that the already abridged menu was further cut by ‘not available’ signs on the chicken bites ($1.30/ $1.90), double mushroom Swiss burger ($4.95), grilled onion and cheese burger ($3.95), and any other chicken-related item bar the wings. When I returned two weeks later craving nuggets, the situation was the same.

So that left us with the cheeseburger meal ($3.20), a whopper ($4.80), a double bacon burger with cheese ($4.95) and spicy Mexican chicken wings ($1.70). After a 10-minute wait full of trepidation – can they really taste as good as back home? – the order landed in front of us.

The burgers arrived in familiar thin paper wrapping and, thankfully, when it comes to taste, they’ve mastered the recipe to perfection. Each bite of the whopper – made up of two patties, crammed with salad and lashings of sauce – reminded me of home.

In fact, they’ve even upped the global chain’s game, replacing the thick, crispy fries served in the UK with the signature skinny ones seen at McDonald’s – a brand that is also making waves in Asia and opened its first Vietnamese store in Ho Chi Minh City last month. Amazing.

If you like chicken well done, then the wings will also be right up your street. Each small bite was crunchy and had a satisfying tang thanks to the spicy coating.

Despite being busy, the deep wooden floors of the main eating area and the cozy corner with coaches and a low table were clean. Tables were also quickly wiped down after customers left. The potted plants lining the entrance and hanging baskets outside add a welcoming splash of colour, while a feature wall made of bricks gives the eatery a contemporary feel inside.

I’m not sure how long it’ll take for the novelty to wear off, but for the moment I’m indulging in the fact the city centre now houses a quick and convenient taste of home.

Corner of Street 310 & 51, Phnom Penh. Tel: 023 890 282.
Open daily from 9am to 9pm.