From the Bruneian dishes on the menu to the chic restaurant and bar itself, the owners of Intégrité share their family recipes and welcome diners into their Phnom Penh home. Words by Matt Surrusco; photos by Enric Català.
The owners of Intégrité, a stylish restaurant and bar serving Bruneian and Chinese specialities in Phnom Penh, call their place a “home boutique cafe”.
It’s a good moniker. The interior decor is colourful, cosy and chic, with armchairs and sofas accented by pillows and fabrics in three dining areas, including an indoor loft and roofed balcony that welcomes the breeze and street sounds below.
Plus, owner Sabrina Wong, and her Bruneian partner Paul Sitai, a former aircraft engineer turned chef, live upstairs.
“We love entertaining,” Wong says, explaining how she and Sitai decided to open a cafe. They first visited Phnom Penh in November 2016 while on holiday, returned in February last year to explore their options and found the originally dark and tight, four-floor building in Toul Tom Poung that they would transform into the welcoming, multi-level cafe, which opened in October.
“I saw the potential in making this place beautiful,” Wong adds.
Her modern yet cosy interior design is not just visually appealing, but also conducive to hosting private events as well as regular lunch and dinner patrons, she says.
We sampled a mix of Bruneian dishes crafted from Sitai’s family recipes and other flavourful dishes.
Two vegetarian soup starters – pumpkin and carrot, and mushroom and leek (both $3.75) –were light, creamy cups of simple, nuanced flavour. The two main ingredients of each were well balanced.
My choice for top dish was the nasi lemak ($6.50), a piece of fried chicken seasoned with turmeric and served with coconut rice, sambal chili sauce, anchovies and peanuts. While the chicken was slightly dry, the well-seasoned meat was an overall delight to tear off the bone. And the spicy, red dollop of chili sauce added a welcome kick to the rice. The mix of salty anchovies and Khmer bar peanuts were a crunchy, enjoyable side.
Similar to the Indonesian version, the beef rendang ($7.95) comprised tender chunks of halal meat doused in a green curry, like a thick pesto sauce, and served with steamed rice.
The halal chicken curry and ayam masak merah, chicken cooked in a red sauce with spices, (both $6.50) were also tasty, especially if you’re looking to try a Bruneian dish.
The menu also includes a few Chinese dishes – “Grandma’s Specials” – which we weren’t able to try during our visit, but which Wong says are her mother’s recipes. Shanghainese dumplings, fried or steamed, ($6.50) are served with black vinegar and ginger sauce. Cantonese-style pork ribs and hong shao rou, Shanghai-style red-braised pork belly served with rice, (both $7.95) are more meaty options.
The desserts also sound tempting: affogato, a scoop of vanilla ice cream with espresso coffee ($3.80), caramelised pineapple and sauteed banana crepe. With food nearly as colourful and homey as the restaurant’s decor, Intégrité offers satisfying flavours.