Following on from the success of the first branch, Eleven One Kitchen has opened its doors in BKK1. Writer Jessica Tana and photographer Lucas Veuve check it out.

Opening a new restaurant is a daunting task, but Eleven One Kitchen owner Soklim Srun is a woman who doesn’t say no to a challenge. As if running one restaurant isn’t enough, she recently opened a sister restaurant to her Toul Tom Poung offering in BKK1, juggling the two venues while working part-time as an accountant and raising a family.

Passionate about the environment and serving fresh, pesticide-free food, Srun ensures all the packaging is biodegradable, ingredients are locally sourced and organic – although, this is a challenge and some are purchased from Vietnam – and absolutely no MSG.

“One day I would like to own my own farm,” she says. “Then I would know exactly where all the produce comes from.”

Like the flag-ship restaurant in Toul Tom Poung, the eatery is surrounded by flowering plants, wooden tables and chairs, and an aura of down-to-earth hospitality.

The menu has undergone some changes at the new location. The number of Western dishes have been downsized, and Khmer cuisine increased. A new weekly-changing set lunch menu has also been introduced. “We want to focus on Khmer cooking,” Srun says. “The set menu is food Cambodians might eat at home.”

At only $3.75, the vegetarian set lunch is a bargain (meat option is $4.75). It includes a tasty tofu and broccoli salad, presented on a pink banana flower, creamy pumpkin and mushroom curry, rice and a tri-colour jelly dessert.

Next was the Cambodian-style dinner with stir-fried beef and red tree ants ($5) and Kampot green peppercorns with stir-fried seafood and broccoli ($4.25).

The beef stir-fry was filled with aromatic lemongrass and shallots, however, the red ants may take a little getting used to – they are tangy and slightly crunchy, and a few larger bugs hidden in the meal are not for the faint hearted. The seafood stir-fry was filled with juicy, ripe peppercorns, bursting with peppery fire and infusing the fresh squid and prawns.

The stir-fried chicken with spicy basil ($3.75) a deliciously sharp mix of chillies, roasted garlic and spicy, Thai basil coating tender chicken pieces; and chicken curry ($4.50). Potatoes, green beans and chicken in a rich and pungent, coconut sauce, suffused with a hint of cinnamon.

For dessert, we tried the sticky rice plate dumplings stuffed with banana and caramel ($2.50) and a pumpkin coconut cream cake ($1.50). The dumplings were moist and chewy, scattered with shavings of coconut, but the pumpkin cake stole the show. It was light and springy, with a delicate fusion of both flavours. Rich and sweet, without being overbearing.

This recent edition to the Eleven One Kitchen family is just as good as the first – a beautiful space to sit in, with an environmentally conscious owner, and cheap, hearty food.

37 Street 334, Phnom Penh.
Tel: 086 619 111.
Open Monday to Thursday, from 7am to 9pm, and Friday to Sunday, from 7am to 11pm