Le Broken Plate stands out from a city crowded with sushi restaurants thanks to its extremely fresh ingredients and close attention to detail. Words by Erin Hale; photography by Enric Català.
Sushi is a competitive business in Phnom Penh. The large number of Japanese expats and tourists has ensured there are dozens of restaurants, varying in quality and price from Aeon Mall’s conveyor belt sushi to fine dining at Daishi Japanese.
Canadian-Khmer chef Narith Plong, however, gives the best sushi chefs a run for their money at his new riverside restaurant. It’s not every day in the Cambodian capital that diners can sample sushi cut with a $1,000 knife directly from a whole fish – head, scales and all – fresh from Japan or Norway without breaking the bank.
Plong brings 18 years of experience working in Montreal’s food and beverage industry to Le Broken Plate, named after his grandfather’s village in Kandal in its English translation. After several months of cooking for family and friends, the restaurant saw its official opening early in October. The menu changes weekly with new dishes added or removed, with an overhaul planned every three months to change with the seasons.
The best place to start is the $30 omakase tasting menu which is the best deal, and way, to try most things on the menu. It also comes with plenty of surprises, as per Japanese custom.
“Traditionally the Japanese sushi chef would serve you what he [had[ fresh at that moment in time, and he would cook for you without you ordering anything. And that is done throughout Japan with omakase menu,” says Plong. “Then you end up with a series of small courses, whether it’s nigiri [slices of fish on rice], grilled fish or steamed fish.”
For us, the tasting menu began with fresh cold water oysters imported from Nha Trong, Vietnam ($1 each) and served with a spicy micro salsa mignonette with flavours such as pineapple, pepper and lime. This was followed by a rich Takeo river prawn and lemongrass soup, which, while slightly off course from the Japanese theme was delicious.
Sushi and nigiri followed, and with it the standout dish: salmon belly nigiri with a miso-based glaze, braised with a small blow torch to “activate the fat” and add a smoky texture (two pieces for $2.25).
While it’s intended to be eaten in one bite, it’s almost a shame because the salmon belly is the fattiest and softest piece of the fish – and most delicious.
The salmon belly was followed by a fresh and equally favourable Japanese red snapper (three pieces for $4.75) accompanied by fresh sea urchins. Australian lamb also features on the menu (100g for $4.25) which comes with surprisingly tasty yucca – also known as cassava – fries topped with grated cheese.
The feast that is the omakase menu is best washed down with cold sake. Le Broken Plate offers a range of sakes, but be warned they aren’t cheap – once again, quality comes at a price. For those on a budget, try beer or some hot Japanese tea. And don’t forget the dessert, which on this occasion was a creative reimagining of pumpkin pie that saw cooked pumpkin served with cream.