The capital has a worthy successor to Odom Garden – and one that will hopefully survive longer as a vital green oasis to recharge mental batteries to face life in the foliage-deprived city. While Odom was doomed from the start as a cruel marketing stunt to sell an expensive apartment complex, Maloop Garden feels different. Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking. And I’m certainly not bitter about the loss of Odom.
Billing itself as “a small city park that offers a café, bar, and inhouse restaurant with local inspired dishes,” and run by the same team as Russian Market’s Kinin and Nesat, the verdant location in nearby Boung Tumpoun is a delight. And raises the important question of, “why can’t Phnom Penh ever have more than one nice green space at once?”
The nature + Cambodian flavors of their other two locations – lots of reclaimed wood in homage of rural houses – has been taken in a new direction at Maloop. The 1960’s villa channels visions of the Kep su Mer of legend, while the bar and outdoor seating area have a more modern feel. With winding paths between trees, a large grassy area, and a swimming pool repurposed as a lily pond, it’s hard not to sound overly fawning while describing the place.
The menu brings together some of the popular Kinin and Nesat dishes, while bringing some new options to the table. There are vegetarian versions of Cambodian dishes for those avoiding meat, such as chickpea curry and jackfruit burgers, the more adventurous can try frog and ant char kdao, and gourmets will be thrilled by green tea pork ribs and seabass ceviche. For those with no curiosity whatsoever, there’s a wagyu and gorgonzola burger (with optional bacon).
The location in a once-aquatic part of town means that rainy season dining is a risk – flood waters were up to mid-shin level when this intrepid gastronome visited – but bring your inflatable Decathlon kayak or some plastic sandals and venture the other side of Street 271 to see what all the fuss is about. And heal the hole in your soul left by the construction site that was once Odom garden.
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
209 Ta Phon Street, Boung Tumpoun, Phnom Penh
Tel: +855 92 420 205