With its modernist interior and prime location in the city’s developing financial district, new venue Doors is talk of the town. Ellie Dyer tests it out. Photography by Conor Wall.
Bread, jam and gin may sound like an unusual fusion combination, but trend-setting restaurant Doors doesn’t shy away from forward thinking. With mismatched furniture, funky artwork and a wall of colourful shutters set up behind the in-house stage, the venue is already setting new design standards for Phnom Penh.
Retro chairs, textured cutlery and fedora-wearing waiters are the first indication that attention to detail is a major feature of the newly launched bar and restaurant. Ordering a drink proves it.
The toast and berries cocktail ($5) is a case in point. Not only does it come in a jam jar wrapped in a delicate white paper doily, but an egg shell containing fresh bread and jam has been clipped on the side with a tiny clothes peg. For those brave enough to branch out, the berry preserve complements the zingy gin cocktail perfectly and demonstrates mixology at its best.
Moving on to the food and more surprises await. The restaurant offers small plates to share with dishes on an initial menu — which has been updated since AsiaLIFE’s visit — including a ‘pregnant’ (stuffed) tomato and ‘chicken rock and roll’.
It turns out that a mini pan, apple slices and currants are the key to getting a chicken rocking. A smoky flavour permeates the tender meat, but for $5 a plate, it’s a small serving by Phnom Penh standards.
A starter steals the day. The watermelon josper spicy squid is, simply put, a winner. Named after a Spanish charcoal oven — which forms a major element in Door’s cuisine — the texture and flavour combination are fantastic. Smoky seafood contrasts perfectly with a gingery dressing and slightly warm watermelon hunks. It makes a beautifully put together dish.
Classic options are also presented well. The individually stacked patas bravas see each chunk of potato topped by small dollops of sauce, emphasising the kitchen’s presentation skills. Chicken strips may be simple, but the coating is perfectly crisp.
Doors is creating a niche all of its own in the capital. But the exciting food and wonderful presentation were slightly let down by teething problems, which are not unusual at a new eatery.
Despite enthusiastic staff, a couple of wrong orders reached the table, while the ambitious soufflé was more like a flattened pancake.
The deflated dish was, however, sweetened by a delicious white chocolate ganache pudding. A tangy passion fruit sauce cut through the smooth chocolate, again showing that, like Doors, a mix of styles can make for a good combination.