Marissa Carruthers and Monyneath Reth don plastic gloves and bibs at The Lobster Bay in Aeon Mall, with photography by Rudi Towiro.

I always find myself in a bit of a quandary when tackling one of my favourite foods. As a lover of crustaceans and a hater of getting my hands dirty, I’m often forced to decline eating any form of sea creature that comes complete with a shell that needs cracking.

Thankfully, The Lobster Bay at Aeon Mall provides the perfect solution to scoffing scrumptious lobster, crab and prawns. Here, all fears of messy hands, clothes and tables are wiped out in a pincer move, as diners eat with disposable plastic gloves and bibs. Dishes are even served up in translucent plastic bags, instead of plates and bowls.

“Our motto is ‘enjoy with your hands’. That’s what we want people to do in a relaxed and fun environment,” says general manager Prohm Davin, explaining that raw oysters and rice are the only items eaten with spoons.

“Another great thing that has come out of it,” he adds, with a smile, “is that families have no choice to sit down and eat together without getting out their phones or iPads.”

Embracing all things nautical, the restaurant is decked out with life buoys, fishing nets, a flashing lighthouse and two life-sized pirate statues, both made in Cambodia, for diners to be photographed next to.

The menu also follows the sea-faring theme, offering a range of seafood, including blue crab ($1.80/100g), raw oyster ($2.50/100g), lobster (depending on the season, $3/100g), scallops ($2.50/100g), clams ($1.25/100g), sweet snails ($2.90/100g) and squid rings ($2.50/100g). The shell option ($0.80/100g) comes complete with prawns, crab and lobster.

Dishes come cooked in a choice of salty and spicy American style – consisting of an imported mix of butter, garlic, vegetable oil, chilli and salt – or a secret herb-infused Cambodian version, with various levels of spiciness to choose from. Also packed inside the plastic bag of shellfish and other seafood is corn on the cob, chillies and peppers.

The idea came to the owner during a trip to America, where he stumbled across a similar concept on the San Francisco coast. “The uniqueness of the idea is what has made this very popular,” Prohm adds. “No other restaurants in Cambodia offer an eating experience like this.”

Infatuated with recreating the environment while serving up easy-to-eat seafood, he adapted the idea for Cambodians and opened the country’s first Lobster Bay on Koh Pich in January. The roaring success led to the restaurant securing itself a second spot in the newly opened Aeon Mall, where the eatery is regularly full of plastic glove and bib-wearing diners tucking into their grub, regardless of the mess.

Aeon Mall, Phnom Penh.
Tel: 099 920 930
Open daily from 10.30am to 10pm