Catering to demand, S&P Thai Restaurant and Bakery has upgraded its offerings to a spacious colonial villa in central Phnom Penh. Editor Marissa Carruthers and photographer Lucas Veuve sample the menu.
“When people think of Thai food, they tend to think of tom yum soup and papaya salad,” says seasoned chef Tanayut Saikao, who relocated from Thailand to head up the kitchen at S&P’s flagship store in the Kingdom. Throw into the mix a pad Thai and green and red curry, and you’ve pretty much got S&P’s signature dishes off to a tee.
Having built up a Thai empire of more than 460 outlets, S&P has branched out into Cambodia. With its small outlet at Aeon Mall proving popular since opening in 2014, it has upped its game, launching a two-storey restaurant and bakery in a spacious colonial-style villa.
With a team of Cambodian and Thai chefs, the menu is packed full of authentic Thai dishes, such as larb pork ($6.50), a spicy minced pork salad, Chiang Mai curry noodle with chicken drumsticks ($5.50) and chicken Massaman curry ($6.50).
The tom yum goong ($7.50) was a must try with a steaming bowl of fragrant broth, decorated with a splash of green herbs, brought to the table. Hailing from the Western world where degrees of spicy can drastically differ from this neck of the woods, we opted for medium spicy. The dish still came packed with a punch, with the hot and sour of the lemon grass, galangal, kaffir lime, chilies and lime biting each time.
The som tum gai yang ($7.50), or Thai style spicy green papaya salad, is another firm favourite on the menu. “Most people in Thailand eat chicken and papaya salad because it is healthy,” says Tanayut, adding the fire of the dish is believed to cleanse the digestive system.
Served with a side of grilled herb chicken and sticky rice, the shreds of unripe papaya are peppered with dried shrimps, adding an extra texture to each bite. True to Thai cooking, the explosive salad powerfully combines sour, spicy, sweet and salty. Tanayut says in S&P’s Khmer version, shrimp paste is used rather than the anchovies used in Thailand, which creates a more salty flavour. This can be changed on request.
The rice with chicken green curry ($4.95) offers a smaller meal than the others, which is reflected in the price. A small bowl of flavoursome curry is served alongside a portion of steamed rice and a boiled quail egg. While the curry remains spicy, it leans more to the sweet side, balanced out by the saltiness of the egg.
The pla tod sam rod ($14), deep fried fish with hot and sour sauce, is impressive on the eye. The fish is filleted and deep fried in a sweet and sour sauce, topped with fried garlic and chili to add an extra kick, before being placed back in its crisp skin and served. The result is divine. The moist fish is brought alive by the sauce and complemented perfectly by the crunch of the crisp skin.
Pretty much packed full for lunch and dinner, S&P is definitely making a mark in Phnom Penh for offering a true taste of Thailand.