Micheal Sloan sits down with Ryota Miyauchi to learn how East meets West at Cross Town Cafe. Photography by Dylan Walker.
Upon entering the Cross Town Cafe, your attention could be drawn to a bookshelf stocked with encyclopedias about cats. Out of the corner of your eye, diners are even likely to spy a chicken advising them to try the ginger pork.
Japanese owner Ryota Miyauchi — who designed everything at the café from the classic rock soundtrack to the custom pine furniture and glass sake shelf — says that the venue’s slightly kitsch style is part of the appeal.
“Cross Town Cafe’s meaning is from the words cross or close town. Tokyo and Phnom Penh are both close to me. Another thing is I really like western music like Cross Town Traffic by Jimmy Hendrix, so inside we have a mix of everything,” he says.
The road to the opening the café was a long one. Miyauchi and business partner Masatake Waki both quit their jobs and left their families behind in Japan last year to start a water filtration system business in Cambodia. Finding the market slower than expected, they put their previous hospitality experience to good use and opened Cross Town Café on Street 294 in April.
The cafe serves an expanding lunch and dinner menu, which is heavy on curries and chicken. In fact, the restaurant’s logo — featuring a chicken holding a coffee mug waving its right wing happily —is emblazoned on menus, mugs and t-shirts sold over the counter. If you need help deciding on a wine, then the chicken has already compiled a handy guide on page 11 of the menu.
The kitchen has produced eclectic combination of dishes ranging from fried bread wrapped sausage ($3.50) through to the Cross Town roll cake ($3.50). The chocolate treat is accompanied by a testimonial from restaurant staff on the “hours of blood sweat and tears” it took to develop.
A good first pick for a main course is the curry hamburg teppan plate ($8) featuring spiced chicken marinated in gravy. It is served fresh from the oven cafeteria style and is accompanied by rice and vegetables.
Dessert comes in the form of a selection of fruit frozen in amber and green-coloured jelly ($3) served in champagne glasses. You can also order coffee or drink the jellied version.
“I think that until the end of next month were going to add at least one food a week to the menu and see which is the most popular,” says Miyauchi. “I want to say thank you very much to the customers, as most of our cross town cakes are sold out everyday, but we still want more people to come and try everything.”