Street 51, or Pasteur, is very much the spine of the capital taking in a string of coffee shops to appease the coffee fix in BKK1 up to the Central Market cross section. Writer Steve Noble explores the diverse offering of cafes, restaurants, bars and entertainment spots. Photography by Lucas Veuve.
Simphony Music & Art School
243 Street 51
A musical escape from the rows of crammed coffee shops comes in the form of Simphony Music & Art School, which opened in 2010. Offering classical music training it aims to promote music education to the general public as well as offering lessons to students of all ages and abilities. A range of musical instruments are taught, including the guitar, piano, violin and saxophone. A showroom, range of activities and art courses offer a mix of education. For those who plan on staying in town for a while, this could easily become a second home while budding musicians learn to embrace their musical talents.
Lotus Blanc Training Restaurant
152 Street 51 (between Streets 306 and 310)
As the brainchild of NGO Pour un Sourire d’Enfant’s (PSE) Hotel Training School, this restaurant offers Asian and Western cuisines prepared and served by students who gain practical firsthand experience working in the restaurant. The food is good value for money around the clock, and local dishes, such as beef lok lak and mango salad, and desserts, including the pineapple flambé, come recommended. The restaurant can be sparse at times, however, this gives guests the chance to interact with the attentive and eager training staff. It’s a great cause and alternative to the international franchises that are starting to litter the street.
9Eo Street 51 (cnr Street 278)
Well located for people-watching, the enticing happy hour from 3.30pm to 7.30pm is enough to lure punters into the breezy, almost open-air setting situated opposite Wat Langka. Although the food varies and the menu is typically over-saturated in terms of choice, the food is good, cheap, and tasty, catering for both Khmer and Western choices. With the hustle and bustle of the street, it’s a great place to catch up with friends and soak in the mayhem that can be the capital.
17 Street 51
Located just before the main nightlife hub of Golden Sorya Mall, RSD Tattoo started inking customers in 2005 as a temporary store. RSD was the first to offer tattoo designing in Cambodia and has welcomed a healthy roster of Cambodian tattoo artists over the years. Today, it still maintains a varied roster of local and international artists who specialise in different styles. Those looking to be inked can request a tattoo off the catalogue or spend time with one of the artists designing something unique. The red sofas that line the shop are often a social setting for the staff and their friends but they are a welcoming bunch.
32 Street 51
An institution among the expat crowd, the small but hospitable bar is a welcome relief from the craziness of adjacent Golden Sorya Mall. Well known owner, Howie, is often on hand to greet guests to his popular dive bar. The pool table is constantly congested, but be warned and watch out for pool sharks, especially the friendly staff, who are constantly challenging customers in a game of Connect 4. The music runs the spectrum but mostly takes in eighties and nineties rock and ballads. It’s a bar that’s far less sleazy than some of its neighbours, and regularly hosts a mixture of locals, backpackers and expats who pour in late at night.
Golden Sorya Mall
Another mainstay and institution – yes, mainly for the wrong reasons, it features all the worst and best examples of nightlife in the capital. Housing lady bars, restaurants, cheap eateries, beer gardens and Pontoon, it attracts a diverse range of people from across the globe, from backpackers, expats and locals to the rich, poor and needy. It is undoubtedly a melting pot best witnessed firsthand. Be cautious, be adventurous, have fun, and stick this one in the memory bank.
168 Street 51
Aiming to offer something unique on a street cluttered with cafes, Conekla encourages visitors to embrace their inner child. This entertainment bistro has a range of games and activities on offer, and a fun, sweet-themed decor that includes a giant lollipop, a candy and popcorn bar, and sweets a plenty, such as M&Ms, Gummy Bears and Skittles. Downstairs is an atrium-style room with water streaming down the glass roof, and plenty of light due to the floor-to-ceiling windows. Upstairs offers rooms that can be hired, and feature large flat-screen HD TVs, couches and sound systems. Gaming consoles, such as Xbox 360 and PS3, are also available. There is plenty of seating throughout and although it’s already looking a little worn, it’s a nice alternative to the hordes of cafes on Street 51.
Katy Peri’s Peri Peri Chicken and Pizza
Cnr streets 51 and 172
Katy Peri’s was the first street food stall in Cambodia to have a wood-fired pizza oven on a tuk tuk, and it’s a challenge to find an expat who hasn’t soaked up the excess booze with one of the delicious pizzas after a night out. The pizzas are incredibly affordable with small or large sizes costing between $2.50 and $6. Whether it’s a stopover to refuel for the night or a bite on the way home, Katy Peri’s is a landmark in the capital’s late-night eating, and the setting for people watching is unsurpassed for viewing the range of nightlife in town.