The entrance to Chow is a large glass frontage, facing out onto the riverfront, supported by what looks like the back of a Boeing 747 plane. This leads into a post-modern, chic atmosphere, with gently contoured shapes contrasting with clear, straight lines, geometric patterns and metallic sheen. So we have smoothly curving, orchid-shaped chairs, playing off against a long, sleek, distinctly Asian looking bar.
On the other side is a large feature wall, with soft, cushioned blocks of Khmer, rough silk pushed into an elegant silhouette by strips of indented accent light.
This satisfying dissonance is carried on in the menu, the feel of the venue is most definitely Asian, this could be in Tokyo or Hong-Kong, Seoul or Bangkok, but the menu that we are tasting today is Spanish. Chow specialises in three different menus, a Pan-Asian (which includes Japanese and Indonesian dishes among others) a BBQ menu (Cooked on the hotel’s rooftop barbecue) and a new Tapas menu.
The smooth curves of the design are continued in the crockery, with the salt and pepper shakers reminiscent of pebbles, washed smooth on a tropical beach, contrasting with the stark hexagonal geometry of the knives and forks
Anyone expecting traditional, small-portion, tapas plates will be in for a surprise as well. The plates are modern, sleekly curving, asymmetrical, large and stacked full of food.
The food arrives with a baguette of fresh, crusty and light bread accompanied by a satisfying creamy garlic sauce dip.
The Choriza A La Plancha is richly smoky, meaty and full flavoured but a little less spicy than you would normally find in Spain.
The Patatas Bravas are also rather unusual, with the salsa elegantly placed in the centre of the plate, rather than permeating the whole dish. The potatoes are crisp, well cooked and the pay of the tangy salsa and creaminess is pleasing, though once again it is slightly less spicy than I would have expected.
The Croquettes de Pollo were golden brown on the outside but with a soft, finely textured mix of chicken, potato and herb inside.
The Ensalada de Queso was my favourite main, if you like the taste of Manchego cheese, you will love this. The salad is pleasingly simple, fresh mixed leaves and tomato with a light dressing all in support of the rich unguent, piquancy of the Manchego cheese.
For dessert, we have the Crema Catalana, a Catalan delicacy similar to crème brûlée, with a caramelised top giving way to a thick, faintly zesty custard.
We also tried the Chocolate Tort Sufle which was a real highlight. The moist, spongy texture of the cake was warmed through perfectly, with a rich, dark chocolate taste complemented by the cool refreshment of a scoop of coconut ice cream.
Our tastebuds sated, we make our way up to the rooftop barbecue lounge, all darkwood decking and subdued elegance, and sip on a cocktail as we watch the Tonle Sap gently drift on by.
Chow is located on the ground floor of The Quay Boutique Hotel at #277 Sisowath Quay (between Streets 154 and 148).
This article was published in Issue # 2 of The Advisor
3000 copies printed weekly and distributed in hard copy around town to local venues and also available here for downloads in the archives.