Editor Marissa Carruthers and photographer Enric Català go sky high to sample the delights of Japan with the Cambodian capital twinkling below, at Iza.
There are three stages of delight diners go through on entering Iza, an open plan restaurant that occupies a sprawling space on Rosewood Phnom Penh’s 37th floor.
The first is the views of the capital racing to the horizon below. The second is the interior. Sharp urban style seamlessly blends with Old World designs, all laced with subtle nods to Khmer tradition – a theme that runs throughout the hotel and carries into its stylish izakaya-style dining space.
The third is what a visit to Iza is all about: the food. And there’s plenty of that to choose from, with the menu experimenting with the different styles, tastes and techniques of Japanese.
We started with the hotate mango spicy miso ($22), a delightfully-presented dish, with the green, purple and yellow of the ingredients working well together on the plate. Great for sharing, four plump portions of Hokkaido scallops are draped in a chunky sauce of yellow mango marinated in miso topped with cress. The sweetness of the mangos perfectly complements the tang of the miso sauce and the delicate flavour of the scallops, chargrilled to perfection so they remain soft to the bite.
Another dish that is great for passing around the table is the Ika Karikari Isobeage ($9). The dangerously moreish appetiser sees bite-sized pieces of squid lightly fried in a crispy batter flecked with nori. It is served with a wedge of lime and a side of spicy cod roe sauce that adds a mild kick.
The Zensai Moriawase ($28) provides the perfect opportunity to sample the varying tastes of Japan. Comprised of the chef’s selection of appetisers, the dish is served in a large copper bowl filled with ice.
Again, the presentation is on point, with each option served in a unique way. Edamame poached in Kampot sea salt comes in a small ceramic pot and the chicken karaage – popcorn-sized bites of chicken lightly fried in sake, soy sauce, ginger and garlic – is served in a small wooden crate. The salmon Namero – a spicy salmon tatiki with crunchy black sesame crackers – is presented in a glass dish, while the jyaga gyoza – crispy potato and corn dumplings accompanied by a spicy miso mayonnaise – and spinach topped with a cheesy sauce are both served on ceramic dishes.
Despite the creative plating of our previous dishes, the pièce de résistance came in the form of the Moriawase ($52/ $68). Delivered in a giant ceramic half-pipe, the colourful spread takes in a range of sushi and sashimi options. Tender slices of tuna and salmon pork belly marinated in citrus and soy sauce almost melt in the mouth, delicate dollops of truffle mayonnaise sit atop plump prawns, and makis of chopped tuna tatiki, sea urchin and salmon roe make this a sushi fan’s ultimate dream.
With 42 varieties of sake and shochu, as well as an adjoining whisky bar, and plenty more packed into the menu, Iza is an exquisite place to sample the true tastes of Japan in style.