Adding a fresh twist to vegetarian eating is top of Duplex’s dining agenda. Marissa Carruthers and photographer Charles Fox sample the menu.

It’s easy to create the illusion of fine food by filling a menu full of fancy words, but the proof is definitely in the pudding – and all other courses – when it comes to new kid on the block, Duplex.

Here, it’s the acute attention to detail, that can easily go unnoticed by distracted diners, which makes this place stand out.

Setting up in a spot that has seen a string of businesses struggle to survive, it looks like the brains behind Duplex have finally got the recipe right because day and night, an array of people fill the tables in the spacious downstairs bar and restaurant area.

With the focus being on providing healthy food at healthy prices, the majority of the carefully crafted menu is built around the pescatarian concept. However, meat-lovers need not feel left out as there is a small “grills of hell” section. This includes chicken satay and lemongrass skewers ($6.50), Australian beef tenderloin ($16.90) and cheeseburger ($6.50).

Deciding to stick to the flavour of the restaurant, we ignored the meat and settled on the aubergine, gorgonzola and thyme lasagna ($7.50), seared pistachio-crusted tuna ($11.90) and baked potato and pumpkin gnocchi ($5.90).

Effort clearly goes into presentation and each of the dishes looked almost too nice to tuck into. However, we were hungry and the guilt soon passed. The lasagna was undoubtedly one of the best I’ve tasted to date and the key to this success lies in the laborious technique of cooking the lasagna layer by layer before adding the aubergine, gorgonzola and thyme puree and giving it one last blast in the oven.

The result is divine with the freshly-made pasta cooked to the perfect bite – not too soft and not too crunchy – while the creamy puree adds a rich but refined tang to the equation.

The tuna was on a par, with the flesh remaining cold and firm despite having being lightly seared on the outside. The mustard and pistachio crumble that coats the fish adds a crunch and slight kick, and despite the accompanying papaya, mango and cucumber salsa sounding like a sweet addition, it in fact adds a delightful twist, giving a fresh kick to the palette.

The baked potato and pumpkin gnocchi with sage and raw egg yolk, topped with taleggio fondue and almond flakes, also packs a punch. Steering away from the traditional small pockets of gnocchi, Duplex serves the Tuscany type, which comes as one whole, pillow-like dish.

Despite the gnocchi being cooked to the crunch, as if by magic runny egg yolk oozes out as soon as you cut in, adding to the texture and taste of the delicious, filling meal.

Satisfied and stuffed, I finished off my iced-tea, which, to my surprise despite the Cambodian heat, hadn’t been diluted thanks to the drink cleverly containing ice cubes made from the infused tea. Genius.

3, Street 278
Tel. 098 317 150
Open daily from 11am to midnight.