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Antipasto & Ambiance - it’s all about the vibe

By: Alison Jarvis Posted: June-10-2011 in
Alison Jarvis

Noise pollution is a pervasive problem in Phnom Penh. The persistent whirring of motodop wheels, construction contraptions manipulating the skyline or a 4am Khmer wedding, mean that a quiet spot can be something of an elusive oasis.

So imagine a place where the maximum decibels generated are equal to the chatter of just 22 gently merry expats, seeking space, a lazy afternoon and a pre-dinner wine. You might expect this to be somewhere outside of the City. However, the sounds of Cafe del Mar and the lapping of the Mekong, giving the place its rhythmic pulse betray the fact that you are still within sight of Sisowath Quay.

This seductive idea, called appropriately ‘’The Bungalows’’ was the vision. And just two weeks ago, George Norbert Munns decided to convert that concept of a bar in a bungalow into a reality. George has seized the day. And then some. In a country where a jog is as quick as it gets, this man of action leapt from the blocks to capitalise on the development taking place on the other side of the river.

George is a businessman hailing from New Zealand. As he describes his latest venture, he talks of waste management and sustainability. Loosely translated, this means his food is uber fresh and his staff Cambodian. Under his exacting eye, they will be taught to recreate the ambiance on a daily basis. This USP is likely to make the Bungalows a success, and the Cambodian staff, profitably employed long after George has moved on. George is justly proud of his plan: ‘’The only waste is a few limes’’.

The quality of sophistication twinned with simplicity starts with a private boat trip from the Quay, and then continues perhaps with a welcome drink. Cold beers, vodka in all its glorious guises, a G&T, or perhaps a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, are offered at no more than $3.50 USD. Lounging on the sofas in the left bungalow, drink in hand, it is likely to take all of a nanosecond to acclimatize to the stillness.

George’s design background is evident in his choice of furniture which is not so ostentatious so as to drown out the natural wood bungalows, yet modern and stylish. Just as your glass empties, you can wander into the right bungalow and eat your antipasto: brie, olives, grapes, crackers and wasabi peas. $12 USD per shared platter for two is not the cheapest dish in town, but then this is a little more exclusive. There are after all just 22 seats (for health and safety and ambiance reasons) and bookings are recommended.

Like planning a trip out of town, it is difficult to visit The Bungalows on a whim. But unlike a trip to Kep, or Kampot for a restful weekend away from the megaphoning barflies of the City, it is just a short boat ride away, located opposite Dr Andrew’s house. Opening between 2pm and 8pm, you can join the hubbub later for dinner once you have had your medicinal quiet time.

The Bungalows welcome you daily from
Tuesday to Saturday from 2pm to 8pm.

Regular departures on The Butterfly.

Opening party on Sunday 11 June, 2-8pm.
Bookings can also be made for functions with the Chinese House’s very own Tepui doing the culinary honours.

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