They’re red, they’re furious, and now they’re dinner. Ellie Dyer and photographer Charles Fox try Angry Bird soup at Phnom Penh’s Tea Club Restaurant.
Floating in a pool of bright red soup, the Angry Birds glared up at me — furious that they were about to be devoured as lunch. Not content with covering T-shirts, bags, shoes and even a Cambodian language school, the cartoon poultry have taken over the dinner table.
The dish in question — Angry Bird curry laksa ($3.85) — is a special at Tea Club, an unassuming restaurant on Street 63. In its low-lit surrounds, bedecked with Chinese lanterns and oriental shades of black and red, the ubiquitous birds are served up in a fiery Malaysian and Singaporean classic.
Handfuls of yellow noodles, long beans, boiled eggs and tofu are doused in a generous portion of chilli-laden sauce, and topped with fish balls shaped like the iconic red and yellow birds. The curry is rich but spicy, even described as “volcanic” by one diner. If you can handle the heat, the coconut-based soup is a filling and delicious meal, with or without the furious fowl.
Less should be said about the ‘pièce de résistance’ — the Angry Birds. Fishy and rubbery, one can’t help but wonder if they are irritated about their change in species. Yet, if only for comedy value, they are a quirky edition to what is already a solid dish.
The Tea Club’s other offerings are of good quality for their price point. BBQ pork wonton soup ($3.80 a bowl) housed a mix of pork slices, crunchy greens, thin yellow noodles and mince. Though let down by the flavour of the clear broth, which had a slight charcoal tang, the wontons were silky smooth, and the ingredients provided a good textural mix for a simple lunch.
Harbouring a satisfying grease factor, six deep fried chicken thighs ($2.85) had a crisp shell and a surprisingly tender interior. Chinese vegetables and mushrooms ($3.50 for a large plate) came doused in a salty sauce. Fresh and watery, their crunch contrasted well with less health conscious options.
The best was, however, saved for last. Tea Club’s egg tarts ($0.60 each) were a crumbly delight. Delicate, slightly sugary pastry housed a generous proportion of creamy filling. Retaining a pleasing wobble, the eggy concoction was light yet more-ish. Combined with Tea Club’s attentive service and the restaurant’s complimentary cups of Chinese tea, they’re a perfect afternoon snack.