Editor Marissa Carruthers and photographer Lucas Veuve head to Eleven One Kitchen for some top quality, cheap eats.
Owner Srun Soklim and her homely aura is undoubtedly the reason that customers keep returning to her unassuming eatery that sits close to Russian Market. That coupled with the food, of course.
Casual but comfortable simplicity can be found inside the restaurant’s four walls. Wooden chairs and tables fill the main outside terrace, which is surrounded by an array of potted tropical plants. Seating for those seeking solace from the heat can also be found inside an air-conditioned room, where white walls are dotted with art.
The menu boasts a healthy mix of Khmer and Western dishes, with a set menu sitting alongside a special menu that is changed every two weeks.
Sticking to tradition, the fish amok ($3.25) is steamed in banana leaves before being presented on the plate, and the fragrant dish delivers a feast for the senses. The sweet smell smacks your nostrils, the muddy orange of the curry paste combined with the delicate drizzles of white sauce, topped with shavings of red chilli is a joy to the eye, and the mild taste of the coconut and lemongrass from the curry that infuse the flaky fish are to die for.
The pork curry with zucchini and baby potatoes ($3.75) sees strips of tender pork stir-fried in a mild curry sauce that adds just a fraction of flavour to the meat. While the boiled potatoes were slightly too hard in the middle, the courgette was cooked to a treat and worked well with the pork.
The banana blossom salad ($3.50) comes with minced beef rather than the familiar chicken, which makes a nice change. Served on crispy wonton sheets to add a bit of crunch, this dish is certainly refreshing. And the combination of mint, garlic, shallots, carrot, pepper and lime, with the spice of the chilli and crunch of the crushed peanuts, certainly startles the senses.
An open kitchen indicates confidence when it comes to food preparation – an additional element to back up Srun’s devotion to creating hygienic and healthy Cambodian cuisine. In fact, serving good quality, affordable food is a key ingredient to Eleven One Kitchen’s success, with MSG-free dishes and vegetables and fruit either sourced from the nearby market or organic-certified Green Leaf Farm.
No meal is complete without a dessert, and when there is only one sitting on the menu, it has to stand out. Thankfully, Eleven One Kitchen’s chocolate and banana spring rolls ($3.75) do. Banana baked with chocolate oozes out of a crispy, crackly skin with a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream making the perfect companion.
And the range of smoothies, created from fresh fruits and vegetables, add to the health factor, Eleven One Kitchen is going for. Keen to promote local produce, the menu features smoothies and shakes that take in unique local fruits, such as the sour sop, which helps fight cancer.
Satisfied, stuffed and with dollars still in our pocket, we departed Eleven One Kitchen, a couple of happy diners.