Indy House is proving you don’t need a huge budget to make a splash on the capital’s swelling eating scene. Words by Marissa Carruthers; photography by Enric Català.

As restaurants fling open their doors ten to the dozen in the capital, finding a way to keep them from closing is becoming increasingly tough, and thinking outside the box an essential to survival.

So when Thai husband and wife Watcharin Suwannathup and Pattarasiri Viriyasiri, or Pui and Ohh, decided to look for something new, they put their creative caps on. Teaming up with Chay Vichey, known as Selek, they decided to put a new spin on the street barbecues commonly found in their homeland.

With minimal budget, Pui and his pool of friends called on their artistic talents to add a heavy dose of the trio’s funky, energetic personalities, and elevate their eatery from street standard to edgy hang-out spot, specialising in Thai-inspired grilled meats.

The result is a casual diner with heaps of street style. An urban mural depicting the trio covers one wall and antique paraphernalia sourced from Bangkok decorates the walls. The bar, benches and tables are Pui’s creation, built from recycled wood. As are the lights, wooden decking and shelving.

By sticking to simple dishes, with all meals rustled up in the clean, open kitchen – a metal grill, hobs and small work surface that faces the street – costs are kept really low, with hearty meals starting from $3.

“We wanted somewhere relaxed, where people can come and chill,” says Selek, who quit his job in events to work on Indy House. Pui and Ohh were both photographers working in events and advertising.

If you don’t eat meat, go elsewhere because, for now, there’s the choice between chicken, pork, beef, with sides of French fries ($2), cheese balls ($2.50), salmon cheese ($2.50) and garlic fried rice ($1).

The meat options range from spicy chicken steak ($3) and pork steak with spicy Thai sauce ($4), to T-bone ($7.50) and sirloin ($6) steaks. All are served with French fries, salad, rice, and servings of gravy and spicy Thai sauce, nam jim jew.

As soon as we placed our order, Pui jumped behind the grill, slapping the meat, which was slathered in the Thai sauce, onto the sizzling metal. Within minutes the aroma of barbecue wafted through the air, before steaming hot plates landed at our table.

The spicy chicken steaks see thigh and breast meat infused with the kick of the nam jim jew, made from dried chilli, fish sauce, and fresh lime juice.

The thin T-bone steak was cooked to perfection, remaining tender and easy to cut, and perfectly washed down with an iced tea. Again, the sauce adds a welcome punch. While the pork steak ($4) also comes with the option of nam jim jew, we asked for it without. Instead, we poured lashings of the thick, meaty gravy on top, adding a nice amount of moisture to the meat.

With plans to add to the menu, as well as the bar, Indy House is a great addition to the capital’s expanding eateries.

62 Street 135, Phnom Penh.
Tel: 099 555 722.
Open daily, from 12pm to 8pm.