Matt Surrusco and photographer Enric Català sample the works, a filling mix of Western and Asian favorites, at Vorra Bistro.

While the menu at Vorra Bistro is familiar at first glance, with dishes ranging from Italian pasta standards to Asian salad favourites, the intimate Phnom Penh eatery offers a few surprises – both savoury and sweet.

Opened in July by Mat Saovoleak and her husband Om Macthearith, Mat says the couple crafted the menu to include food they enjoyed most when dining out in Phnom Penh. Their tastes encompass classic Western and Asian fare, with some Khmer twists.

Inside the narrow restaurant, the inviting decor is both classy and cosy, with electric-lit lanterns dotting the tables and comfortable seating for 24 people.

The dishes we sampled offered both nuanced flavours – some with a chili-infused kick – and balanced textures, highlighting well-above average dining crowd-pleasers and some more unique experiments.

The mini beef burgers ($4.95) were straightforward and scrumptious, thanks to the minced Cambodian tenderloin beef, seasoned well and covered in a mildly sharp cheddar cheese on a buttery bun. The classic sliders, were cooked medium-well, with beef that nearly melts in the mouth.

Also flavourful, the cuts of marinated beef in the grilled beef salad ($5.95) paired well with the appetiser’s main components: sliced cucumber, red cabbage, onion, shallots and peanuts coated in a Khmer-style sweet and sour dressing of fish sauce, lemon, lime, salt and sugar. A big salad that packed a big crunch, it could easily be shared or eaten as a main.

You know they’re bad for you as soon as you see the French fries wrapped in bacon ($4.75), but combining two salty favourites, the whole creation was greater than the sum of its parts. About six bundles of a dozen thin-cut fries held together by a piece of crispy pork bacon never made stuffing fries in your mouth easier. Served with ketchup and mayonnaise, the only thing that could make a glutton happier would be some melted cheese.

For our main course, the drunken mussels ($11.95) in a white wine sauce included another welcome crunch, this time of chopped onion, celery and red pepper that brilliantly complimented the eight large New Zealand mussels. Garlic bread on the side was perfect to sop up the remaining sauce.

If you have room for dessert, the whiskey bananas with vanilla ice cream ($3.50) were super sweet. Two bananas sliced long ways, warmed and drenched in Cointreau and caramel, and accompanied by a single scoop of ice cream were a delightful ending to a flavour-filled meal.

Vorra’s chefs are two recent graduates of NGO Friends International’s cooking course who say their main focus is preparing quality, tasty food and ensuring the customer is content.

With mouth-watering dishes, satiating portions and a pleasant, comfortable ambiance, Vorra offers the food and setting for a relaxed date or night out with friends. It’s a good place to share a meal.