Dinner at The Lost Room – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

‘The Lost Room’ is a pretty apt name for this restaurant in the heart of Phnom Penh.

Tucked away in the back streets, to find this place you either need to:

  • have been here before;
  • know someone who’s been here before; or,
  • take the easy option and have the owner pick you up from your hotel 🙂

Seriously, this place is hard to find and even if you were on the right track, you would have massive second thoughts given how dodgy the streets look in the dark! Very little lighting, rubbish littering the verges, your gut instinct will be screaming at you to turn around and save yourself a mugging!!

Initially finding this place on Trip Advisor, a little bit of digging around resulted in us working out that the owner of The Lost Room was actually an ex-Tasmanian. A couple of emails later and Derek had offered to send his trusty steed (ie. his mate with a tuk tuk) around to our hotel to pick us up and transport us to his humble establishment. It ended up transpiring that Derek himself came to get us in his old Mercedes(?), whereupon we got to talking about his passion for the service industry, his life as an expat in Phnom Penh (10 years later and fluency in Khmer still eludes him 🙂 ) and the trials he went through in starting up The Lost Room.

Specialising in ‘sharing-plates’, The Lost Room served up one of the very best meals in which we have ever had the privilege of partaking, anywhere in the world!! The service was spot-on all night, the host himself was attentive, friendly and always willing to provide advice on menu selections where necessary, and the range of dishes was remarkable.

Staff at the bar at the rear of the room (with a very cool red crystal bust on the ledge!)

It’s been a while now so unfortunately I can’t recall the exact flavours of every single dish that we ate, but the one that will forever stand out in my memory came from the most unexpected of places…..pumpkin!!

As a child I absolutely despised pumpkin. I can still recall the day we were staying at my grandmother’s house where she had served us some pieces of pumpkin for dinner. I stubbornly refused to eat even a single bite, expecting her to fold under my youthful, yet stern gaze. Alas, I had never come across such determined opposition!! After half an hour of this passive stand-off, the situation swiftly escalated and the ultimatum was finally made, “You’re not moving from that seat until you finish every last bite of your pumpkin!” Now that was a challenge if ever I heard one!! Yet an hour later, and after a number of unsuccessful attempts at trying to make myself throw up, I conceded defeat to this tea towel-wielding tyrant. Sadly my Vecmamma is no longer with us, but I’m sure she’d burst into laughter at the recollection of my earnest little performance!

Since then my palate has undergone somewhat of a transformation, to the point that I find pumpkin, on the very odd occasion, to be quite the delicacy. It doesn’t happen often, but this one evening in Phnom Penh I was taken to another world with this delicious combination of caramelised pumpkin, fetta, sage and hazelnut pesto. So simple, yet so tasty. Sheer genius!

Obviously pumpkin wasn’t the only dish we tried! From the sea bass to the Moroccan duck to the peri peri crab cakes, every single dish was clearly prepared with great skill and attention to detail.

We were sad to see the night end, but the memories live on forever!

Spicy rocket and parsley falafels with beetroot humus and tahini dressing

Peri peri crab cakes with red onion jam

Moroccan spiced crispy duck on a stew of chick peas with yoghurt dressing

Pan fried sea bass with goat cheese tartar and herb gremolata on asparagus

Roasted caramelised pumpkin, with feta, sage and hazelnut pesto

Dark chocolate pot!!

Sticky date pudding with caramel cream sauce and ice cream

The decor

The menu

The front doors, leading to a couple of tables outdoors

After paying the ridiculously cheap bill, we emerged onto the street to find that it was raining cats and dogs!! Piling into the tuk tuk we made our way back to the hotel through the flooded streets…

The drive home, into the teeming rain

Cambodian chivalry!

Just another wet evening in Phnom Penh!