Opening last Friday, October 12, the long awaiting re-incarnation of Merivale’s Tennyson Hotel space has arrived. Kingdom of Rice, a collaboration between Mitch Orr, Cam Fairbairn, Lillia McCabe and Sophia Thach of ACME will be serving Cambodian-style street food for a six-month take-over of the Mascot boozer.
Filling the shoes of Mr Liquors Dirty Italian Disco, Kingdom of Rice has drawn on inspiration from Sophia Thach, front of house manager at ACME. The team have together created a vibrant menu drawing on Thach’s Khmer heritage and time spent in Phnom Penh.
“We have always been fascinated by Southeast Asia and Sophia has cooked so many incredible dishes over the years that really introduced us to Khmer cuisine”, says Orr. “The ingredients used ignite all the senses, not just taste.”
The menu is made from five categories, all designed to share. They’ve got snacks, skewers, grill, wok and noodles and rice. Start with the prahok k’tis (crudites with a dip made from fermented fish paste, pork belly and kreung), svay kchey (green mango, chilli and salt) and trey neet alek (dried fish and watermelon). Next, get the skewers, served with chlouh (pickled green papaya salad) and numpang (a baguette). Choices include phsaet ung (shitake mushroom), sach chrouk ung (caramalised pork) and sach gor ung (lemongrass beef). Think of it as a warm up.
After you’ve sampled the skewers, get the classics from the wok including, bort ling, (corn, dried shrimps and garlic chives) or the cha le’a samot tdek meric (pippies, lime and kampot pepper) with trey ung (whole fish, lemongrass, coconut and herbs) served straight from the grill. Once you’ve conquered the protein, lean into some carbs from the rice and noodle section, before delving into the fruit reliant desserts with jek ung (grilled banana, sticky rice and caramel) and bobor lapoav (roasted pumpkin tapioca and coconut milk).
“Phnom Penh is a real sensory overload. There’s laughter and noise of people everywhere, the smell of food cooked over charcoal, colours of fresh tropical fruits and an amazing sense of community. That is really what we have wanted to capture at Kingdom of Rice”, says Orr.
Overload you must, with a range of Asian beers and natural wines stocking the Tennyson’s self-serve fridges. Try the classic Cambodian flavours on the drinks list like fresh whole coconut rum, pandan piña colada and hennnesy and jasmine tea.
“We want to explore the fundamentals of Cambodian cooking, showcasing classic flavours across wok and grill dishes”, says McCabe. “It is loud, colourful and a lot of fun, and we can’t wait for people to get stuck in.”
Walk through the roller door into the self-described calamity of colour, mismatched furniture and plastic market stools. Feel the hot hustle and bustle as you watch Cambodian movies projected onto the pink walls. Check it out while it’s here.
Kingdom of Rice
Tennyson Hotel, 952 Botany Rd, Mascot
Wednesday – Thursday – 5.30pm-12am // Friday – 12pm-3pm, 5.30pm-12am
Saturday – 5pm – 12am // Sunday - 12pm – 3pm, 5.30pm – 10pm