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kampuchea noodle bar.

does anyone know when the kampuchean noodle bar in the LES opens up? i'm dying to check it out.

from the nytimes:
KAMPUCHEA NOODLE BAR -- In the 1970's and '80's, Cambodia was known as Kampuchea. Ratha Chau, a native of that country, who was wine director and manager of Fleur de Sel, will feature street food from Southeast Asia at this Lower East Side spot. (October) 78-84 Rivington Street (Allen Street).

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  1. it looked pretty unfinished as of wednesday night, with lots of heavy construction work going on.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wleatherette

      aww, bummer. i was hoping they'd make the october opening date originally set out. i'll have to keep my eyes peeled. thanks!

    2. i talked to (i think) ratha the other day and he said they were aiming for a nov 20th opening... i have to say, the interior looks quite attractive even though they're not done yet! i also talked to him a bit about the menu and i am soo excited.. cambodian, vietnamese, southeast asian... some of menu items he mentioned sort of reminded me of dchang's idea of upscaling asian food..

      1 Reply
      1. re: kareny123

        now you have me even more excited! can't wait to check it out---the menu sounds more expansive than i originally thought. thanks for the update!

      2. I saw a bunch of men in business suits dining their last night. Perhaps it was a soft opening?

        1. i just called the restaurant----the official opening is supposed to be thursday, 30 november 06.

          also, this from thestrongbuzz.com:

          Momofuku’s heavenly ramen may have a little bit of competition with the soon-to-open Kampuchea Noodle Bar. Opening on November 21st, this rustic restaurant is washed in orange and brown and is filled with high-top communal tables for convivial elbow-to-elbow slurping. As for the menu, owner Ratha Chau (Fleur de Sel) has designed it as an ode to the food of Southern Cambodia with a slew of Pho (including a make your own version where you choose from a list of add ins), cold noodles, and hearty stews like braised oxtail with stewed tomatoes, and spring onions and Bwah Moun, a porridge made from chicken broth, shredded chicken and cabbage. Kampuchea Noodle Bar is located at 78-84 Rivington St., corner of Allen St., 212-529-3901, www.kampucheanyc.com.

          1. I called as well and was told they were shooting for next Thursday, the 30th, as an opening day. I wonder who was dining there on the 21st, the previously announced opening night, bespoke or not. Any spies who might know?

            1. I just called Kampuchea and they confirmed they are, indeed, opening tonight at 5:30. I live one block away so I can't wait to try it out!

              Will report back...

              1 Reply
              1. So, I went last night around 9:30 and the host said the owner had decided to close early and offered his sincere apologies. I pressed him a bit, but he genuinely did not seem to know why, unless it really was just a "coach's decision.'

                Kampuchea, when will we get to taste your sweet, salty, spicy broths and stews??!

                The host did give us copies of the menu. It looks really good. Momofuku-esque, but definitely not a total derivative. The one thing that calls out "momofuku" is the Berkshire Pork usage, which is really kind of David Chang's signature, not that he owns the copyright or anything.

                4 Replies
                1. re: psmalera

                  that's exactly when we stopped in! we weren't planning on eating, merely wanted a look at the space and the menu - which we got. definitely looking forward to trying it. the oxtail stew will be top of the list, for me.

                  1. re: psmalera

                    Momofuku didn't invent ramen, and in fact, their version is pretty bad. Berkshire Pork usage in ramen is very common, and Momofuku is just one of the most recent restaurants in a long line to use it for this purpose.

                    1. re: Peter Cuce

                      I actually never said Momofuku invented ramen, as I'm sure you realize. My point in mentioning them was because Kampuchea's press/pr blitz has been in full force well before the restaurant was open, and it has been suggested that they are trying to fill/expand the very same niche as Chang. I happen to enjoy Momofuku's ramen, but for the record my favorite joint is Minca.

                      1. re: psmalera

                        However, Momofuku is named after the man who invented instant ramen.

                  2. My husband and I went to Kampuchea Noodle Bar last night and it was closed. Granted, it was Sunday night, but...Anyone know what's happening with the place?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: hellhound

                      they're open tonight. i don't think anything is amiss... they're probably closed on sundays.

                    2. During a trip to NYC we happened upon Kampuchea during their opening weekend and ate their both Friday and Monday nites 'cause it was that good and inexpensive. The feel of the place is warm and inviting, too. For a place that had only been open a couple of days, the kitchen and waiters were doing a great job. Try the grilled corn and the sandwiches and crepes-they were amazing. I think it's really unfair to draw conclusions about any new business until they've had at least a month to work out any kinks. Kampuchea had a few but I can't wait for my next trip to the city to see this place turn into the gem it has every potential to be.

                      1. i went to Kampuchea last week and it was relatively busy for a Tuesday night. I had the grilled corn, grilled eggplant sandwich and the savory crepes with tiger prawns and red onions. my favorite was the grilled corn. i suppose you can't go wrong with grilled corn at any place but the spicy mayo topping was delicious and gave it just the right kick. the savory crepes has scallions in it and is good by itself but the texture is more like a pancake than an actual crepe, i.e. you can't actually wrap anything with it because it would break apart. the eggplant sandwich was also good, mostly because of the grilled bread and sauce. the sandwich contained carrots, much like vietnamese sandwiches. my friend had the chicken noodle soup entree which had rye grains in the soup. in my opinion, the rye grains were one of the few ingredients that differentiated it.

                        1. I loved it when my friend and I went. I had the filet mignon stew, which was insane, and she had the oxtail. The toasted baugette was yummy when we were there.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: haleyjen

                            You hit on probably the two best dishes, in my opinion. Something I didn't write about what that the "filet mignon stew" can be had even better for about $6-8 a bowl in a lot of places. I didn't think it fair to hold their feet to the fire on that because obviously they are emphasizing atmosphere and service, but at $17, it should damn near pour itself into my mouth.

                            I found the oxtail to be tasty, but would I ever order it again? It was a gutbomb, too rich for me to become a favorite dish. And as all reviews are (hopefully) thoughtful opinions, I am of the school that a baguette should be crusty and chewy. Kampuchea's was soft and melty-- decent, but not a baguette. Again, just opinions...

                          2. So I went to Kampuchea last night finally. I had been meaning to check it out for quite awhile since i literally live around the corner. Wanted to post my review for all to see if you are interested.

                            The atmosphere is that "dark dinner by candlelight" feel and i think the space itself is quite nice/pretty/warm. However I'm not terribly keen on communal tables. Luckily, since it was early in the evening me and my friend were not seated right next to someone else and there was plenty of space and privacy.

                            We started with the savory crepe stuffed with shrimp to share. I have to agree with a previous poster in that the crepe is more like a pancake. It really has no taste to it actually and sort of sits there underneath the pile of shrimp and onion only to break apart when i tried to transfer my share onto my plate. For me, I enjoy different textures in my dish so I threw in alot of the fresh sprouts and wrapped my shrimp in the bibb lettuce provided with the appetizer rather than the crepe. Not that I could since the crepe had turned into a rather soggy consistency on my plate. The shrimp is actually quite salty as well. At the end of the day, I'm not sure what the crepe is there for. They should just get rid of that part of the appetizer and serve the filling to be placed inside the lettuce cups and eat it like a warp like some asian restaurants have. I wouldn't say the dish was bad as I did enjoy it since I'm a fan of shrimp however I don't think it is something to go back for.

                            The next thing I ordered was the filet mignon stew only because I had read that that was the best soup on the menu. I have to say I was sorely disappointed. The meat is sliced filet mignon but when you actually eat it, it has a rubbery consistency and is quite flavorless. The soup base itself is your basic beef broth with a hint of asian spices within and the dish is served with some rice noodles, fresh sprouts, some leafy greens and mint. The idea is to mix all ingredients together prior to eating. I ate what meat was in the dish since i paid the whopping $17 for the dish and sucked up as much of the broth i could. My friend had the oxtail stew and I have to say, the stew was thick. I didn't have a taste (as I had a cold) but from what i could see it looked like your quintessential beef stew with peppers, okra, onions, etc. He told me it tasted no better than canned beef stew.

                            There was a basket of garlic bread that came with the meal and sadly, that was probably the best part. The bread was actually crust on the outside and chewy on the inside with a nice flavoring of garlic and butter. But seriously, I wouldn't come back to the restaurant for the garlic bread alone!

                            Overall I'm glad I finally tried the place but I doubt I'll ever go back. The experience was subpar and I'm disappointed. The only reason I might go back is to try one of their sandwiches but for $9 each, I think I'll get the equivalent at any one of the other Vietnamese sandwich shops found througout the city -- especially since they will have them for $3-4.

                              1. My husband and I finally went to Kampuchea last night and had a very good dinner. The place has a nice vibe, very friendly service, good music, though the loudest guy in the restaurant happened to be sitting at our communal table. We had to scream over his voice to have a conversation and had to struggle not to be dragged into HIS inane conversation. Otherwise, I like the communal table atmosphere. Just bad luck.

                                We had a very sweet, though young, waitress. When my husband ordered an old fashioned from the bar, she asked, "An old fashioned what?" But in a nice way. It turns out the bar had no bitters at first, but then tracked some down. (This was the second time in a row that this has happened at a New York bar and has left us thinking maybe we should carry our own!)

                                As noted above, the roasted corn is amazing. The papaya salad has these tiny shrimps in it that authentic papaya salad is supposed to have. It's the first place in a long whole that has had them, although the salad could have used a bit more flavor and punch. The pork crepes suffered from a similar fate. Could have used a bit more punch and spice. But otherwise, pretty tasty. The grilled prawns, monster specimins with some very tangy, yummy dipping sauce, were terrific.

                                We've been to a couple of Cambodian restaurants before -- one in San Francisco and many times to the one that closed recently in Fort Green (and is scheduled to open soon in Manhattan). It seemed to us that the food at Kampuchea is more Cambodian influenced than actually Cambodian, though I'm not Cambodian and so I'm no real expert.

                                Either way, an enjoyable night. We'll definitely return, as I'm sure the place has to get its proper footing. And the menu was filled with things I'd like to try.

                                1. I really enjoyed my meal there too. Nothing authentic, I'm sure, but tasty fare for a neighborhood spot (although a bit too pricey). Worst offense: the horrible loud Ipod mix, which seems to fluctuate wildly in volume.

                                  1. Well, I had a fantastic experience.

                                    We started with the pickled vegetables and the skirt steak sub. I've never been a fan of Khmer pickled cucumbers, but the pickled veggies (chrouk) has always been a favorite. The skirt steak sub was an interesting take on the French-Vietnamese sandwiches. The mayo was spicy and I suspect bird's eye chillie's were cut up and put in the mayo. The steak was perfect and it was a delightful, crunchy sandwich. (Watch out for the bird's eye chillies as they show up in a lot of places and are pretty lethal upon contact.)

                                    For the entree, we had one of the ka tiew's with filet mignon. Now, as someone who was raised with Cambodian homecooking, eaten Cambodian homecooking while in Cambodia, and often reliving these flavors in the home kitchen, I'd say I know a decent ka tiew when I've had one. This was superb. No condiments (other than sprouts and such) were needed. The thing about "pho" and other related noodle soup cousins to ka tiew is that so much flavoring is required on the part of the consumer before it's flavored to one's liking. That wasn't the case with this ka tiew. It came to you already well flavored. You could even taste a little anise in there as well. Lovely, lovely broth. It beats some of the pho a couple of train stops away which, I admit, is twice the size for half the price, but I'm not interested in a big bowl of noodles I can't finish and a broth that's barely flavored once it's on the table (get out the srirachi and soy sauce!).

                                    Although I've never been a fan of Bahn Cheo myself, I would like to clarify that Khmer crepes are hardly like the nutella-filled crepes you would find at Le Gamin. They're actually related to the Vietnamese Banh Xeo (which can easily be found in Chinatown). These crepes are meant to be filled to the brim (almost sloppily; some Khmers even eat them by hand. In addition, because a fish sauce is used to flavor it, it will of course collapse. The dish may not be structurally sound but I wouldn't hold it against the crepe.

                                    I'm also unsure what is meant by "authentic" here as it doesn't always mean the same thing. Sure, I think my mom makes the best ka tiew, but I'm pretty proud of the concoction that I had that night at the noodle bar. As far as decor, thank goodness it's not "authentic" like a cheap noodle shop in Phnom Penh. (I don't think New Yorkers are ready for the ubiquitous, assorted colored plastic chairs and soups with cow's arteries -- I didn't know till after!) If that were the case, it wouldn't be much different from the tacky-fancy Chinese places you'd find further down the road.

                                    By the way, I understand from our server that night that most of the dishes on the menu are meant to be shared. Since that was the case in my experience, the meal was actually affordable. So a meal of two appetizers and an entree for round $30 is how much I normally spend for a good meal. Any more would be a good occasion, any less would not be a culinary adventure, no?

                                    Lastly, I don't think it's fair to compare this place to, say, the greasy and cheap New Pasteur (I love that place). Frankly, I think it's a cop-out when people compare every new "Asian" place to Chinatown restaurants. C-town serves a certain purpose of price and community. Kampuchea Noodle Bar isn't pretending to do that. Besides, how authentic are some of the places in Chinatown? All in all, it's a chic place and does a good job of exposing some essential Khmer flavors. Now...if only they would do a version of somlau machou (sour soup) that would get Cambodian Cuisine to get their act together and finally open up their new location already.

                                    I'm confident that other items I haven't yet tried on the menu will be more than adequate, if not excellent.

                                    1. I don't think I have ever been more in the mood for noodles in soup than I was tonight.
                                      That's why, after seeing the wonderful "Tears of The Black Tiger" at the Film Forum, I hoofed it southeast - on perhaps the coldest night we've had all year - to KNB, and had a bowl of the Filet Mignon "Katiev". The Filet Mignon lives up to expectations, mighty tender and delicious, especially when it forms strands amidst the noodles and sprouts. Although the noodles themselves were decent, my one quibble was that there weren't enough - the bowl was still half full with broth by the time the noodles were gone, something that left me - an admitted noodle junky, spoiled by copious, heaping portions at places that charge far less - somewhat disappointed. The broth, with its' incredibly tangy, flavorful heat, brings it all together and kicks this dish into the stratosphere - I can't say that I've ever tasted anything like it anywhere. In the end, while not totally satisfying my noodle jones, this bowl was mighty tasty and warming on a cold winter's eve. At 17 bucks a pop - I can't say that I'm going to make this a habit - perhaps I'll try one of the sandwiches next time - but I'm glad I tried it, and would recommend that all Asian noodle soup enthusiasts try it at least once.

                                      1. The chicken wings were very good. Now I know that chicken wings aren't overly Cambodian, but they're spicy and delicious nonetheless.

                                        1. Aside from the filet mignon ka tiew and the oxtail, any other noodle soup recommendations?

                                          1. I just want to add, in spite of my negative review, no food is not bad. However i still thought the food was average at best. But perhaps it is because I have had much better pho in chinatown for the price of $4. I guess my expectations were higher for pho priced close to twenty dollars.. And truthfully? The pho joint i go to priced at $4 tastes better to me than the $20 pho i had at kampuchea. You can still get tender choice cuts of meat with excellent broth and fresh ingredients at a great bargain price at my cheap joint. Trust me I'm not about to forsake taste for a good bargain -- i really didn't think this place was all that. I too grew up on this and it just didnt hit the spot for me. And i'm not talking quantity, it's quality broth. And the broth just didnt hit it. And for pho, broth is everything. But hey, I seem to be the minority here -- everyone seems to love this place. All I am saying is that as someone that knows her pho, this place didn't rank high. But cheers to those that love it!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: banjolinana

                                              I had a not so stellar experience at Kampuchea last weekend. We had the grilled corn - similar to the Mexican street corn - but slathered with chili mayo (or aioli, as they called it) and shredded coconut. It was good, but the Mayo was just too overpowering - just too greasy, and it was too messy to eat - there was no implement to hold the corn with. Two of us shared two noodle dishes - one was a cold noodle one with a profusion of herbs, rice noodles, a bit of duck, fried egg, pork, and chinese sausage, kinda like a vietnamese bun. The flavor wasn't bad but too muddled. Nothing stood out for me. The other was a katiev noodle soup - a brown very bland but fatty broth with ground pork, duck, and chicken with noodles. It was not impressive either and we struggled to finish it. Portions were small for price. I do recall Cambodian flavors being more bright, pungent, and flavorful (does anyone remember the fort green cambodian place that closed down years ago?), but this was not.

                                            2. Tried Kampuchea for brunch yesterday. While not exactly thrilled with a cuisine I've never before tried instead of bacon and eggs, I was surprised to find myself very satisfied by the meal. Started with the grilled corn which I found to be a revelatory experience. The whole cob was roasted and covered in a flavorful chili aioli and shredded coconut. Absolutely delicious and almost enough to sate my appetite. Next came tamarind baby back ribs which looked more like country ribs. They were impossibly tender, though I didn't much care for the sour-savory flavor. My oxtail num pang was good, delicious even, though very expensive for a sandwich made out of "variety meat." Noodle soup also seemed outrageous for a big bowl of soup, especially when you cannot substitute or omit anything. I will definitely be back, num pang and corn make great shared snacks; but for a meal, not great enough to warrant its prices.

                                              1. I just went the other night and thought the food was fantastic, if a bit overpriced (also, I'd prefer a place with real chairs). I'm not a Cambodian food expert (pretty hard to become one in NY), but I doubt it's totally "authentic." But that's not a problem, because I think they take Cambodian street food and make it into a wonderful "hautish" cuisine. What really impressed me is how the spices and flavors marry so well but still retain their original tone and character, (is there a culinary equivalent of "polyphony"). Two of us shared four items (perhaps one too many, as we couldn't finish the noodles). Nothing was really hot spicy.

                                                The first thing to arrive was the berkshire pork sandwich. The combination of the garlic-glazed pork, the wonderful baguette with both chili mayo and butter, pickled vegetables and cilantro was absolutely delicious. A great spin on banh mi.

                                                Next to come were the catfish crepes. The fish was absolutely fresh tasting with a wonderful mix of spices, and the dipping sauce was subtle in a good way.

                                                The duck breast with lemongrass (served rare, French-style) was also fabulous, in a broth that was like a mild, light, Thai red curry with a bold lemongrass flavor.

                                                The least satisfying dish, but still good, was the chilled flat noodles with shrimp (excellent ones) and crispy pork belly, I wasn't thrilled with the hoisin-based sauce. I must say that $15 and above for noodle dishes is rather steep.

                                                I want to try all the sandwiches. I may go on my own for the 3-sandwich tasting.

                                                The service was friendly and efficient.


                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Peter Cherches

                                                  Have to agree with Peter-- this place is fantastic... Been their three times in the last month.

                                                  Not sure if you missed the ribs-- but they are absolutely out of this world. And, if you like to cook-- they were featured on the today show-- and are relatively easy (except for finding all the ingredients) to make...
                                                  here the link

                                                  BTW- the lettuce wraps are all great!

                                                  1. re: Peter Cherches

                                                    I actually really liked the crispy pork belly. The scallion-thingies they put on top helped cut the acidity; and I actually thought the hoisin sauce went well with it. I tried the vegetarian "crepe" (mushrooms, butternut squash, and soybeans) and thought it was flavorful. My friend and I had the 3-sandwich tasting, one of which was "the Kampuchea"... i wasn't a big fan of the head cheese... i don't even know what head cheese is, but there was something cheesy in the sandwich, and i didn't like it.

                                                    all in all though, i thought it was pretty good. i did stay away from the noodles, b/c i live in chinatown and would rather get the real deal for real cheap.

                                                    1. re: tinekerocks

                                                      Absolutely LOVE this place; been 5 times in last 6 months. the ribs are dropped from heaven. I picked one up and the meat literally couldnt stay on the bone long enough to bring it to my mouth. the corn, also delish. i really like the mushroom crepe too. all in, awesome. also not sure but i didnt find the food too pricey - just the alcohol - espeically that japanese beer at 12 dollars a pop.