Whether you’re craving kangaroo or a few nibbles with a glass of wine, there’s something for everyone at this Phnom Penh institution. Words by Erin Hale; photography by Enric Català.
Whether you’re a first timer or planning a dinner party, the Lost Room is a solid bet when looking for a gourmet experience in Phnom Penh. The Street 21 establishment specialises in small- and medium-size plates – great for sharing – and its ever-changing selection never gets stale.
On a typical week, more than 20 items are on the menu, so diners can mix and match flavours and spices, says owner Wendy Lucas, who describes the menu as “eclectic” with inspiration taken from around the world.
There are also nods to Lucas’s Australian roots, such as the distinctive Australian Outback “Bush herbs” – carried to Phnom Penh in the suitcases of visiting friends.
“The concept I try and put across is every time you come to eat, whether there’s two of you or 10, it’s like a little mini dinner party,” she says.
With groups of six or more, Lucas often offers to order for the table once she figures out items they like to eat.
“It’s fun because you don’t know what you’re going to get,” she says.
A Lost Room favourite, not technically on the menu, is the mezze platter ($10.50), which offers a sampling of popular small plates: warm goat and feta cheese dip, pear and blue cheese parcels with mango and basil puree, crab cakes served with roast pepper mayonnaise, and rocket and parsley falafel with beetroot hummus and tahini dressing.
Each item is delicious on its own – the goat and feta cheese dip is a definite crowd pleaser – but taken together it’s a standout for its variety of flavours and textures.
Don’t fill up on starters because the medium-size plates shouldn’t be missed. Take the Australian lamb tenderloin fillets with mashed garlic potatoes ($12.50), crispy pork belly braised in dark ale and caramel sauce ($8.50) or a Turkish-style aubergine stuffed with vegetables and garlic yoghurt sauce ($6.50) for vegetarians.
Kangaroo is also a permanent fixture on the specials menu. For the uninitiated, kangaroo meat tastes like a leaner version of beef – or some say venison – with a gamey tang and goes great with a glass of red wine. On the current menu incarnation, kangaroo comes served as a seared fillet ($12) with a red wine and port sauce, accompanied by baby carrots and steamed Brussel sprouts.
Finish off a meal with something sweet. The cheesecake stuffed bake apple ($5.50) or drunken red wine pears with vanilla ice cream ($5.50) are perfect accompanied by dessert wine or coffee.
As expansive as the menu may seem, Lucas can make easily make accommodations for travellers with dietary restrictions, from dairy to celiac, as she designs the menu herself – although a heads-up is always appreciated. Set menus can also be arranged for large groups, ranging from $15 to $20 a head.