K’NYAY is a labour of love of three friends, Run (Chef), Sern (Restaurant Manager) and David (Director). Run, the chef has a particularly inspiring background, at 17 years of age he studied at the Friends International (Mith Samlanh) program which trains street children and disadvantaged youth in a variety of vocational skills. He graduated a few years later and after working at a few restaurants, he embarked on his own adventure – K’NYAY with his two friends, Sern and David. K’NYAY opened its doors on 30th June 2007.
Walking into the restaurant, you can sense they’re trying to create something different in Phnom Penh, the decor is intimate and comfortable, with soft lighting and welcoming seats. It’s a stark contrast to the noisy, blaring sun outside. There are a lot of tables in the corridor, balcony and inside the restaurant, but it doesn’t seem to look cramped.
In a country of Theravada Buddhists who do not eat vegetarian, K’NYAY is unique in offering an extensive vegan menu, of course, for those who prefer meat, there’s also a good selection of Khmer dishes. Tonight we wanted to try something different and sample the Vegan menu.
Since I missed out on trying Khmer fresh rolls at the night market street food stall the other evening, I had to have it tonight. The rolls were fresh, nicely balanced between vermicelli and mint and unlike the Vietnamese version there was minimal mock-meat. The sauce was also different from what I’m used to, it was brown, salty and lemon/lime sour and I detected coconut milk (or was it peanut) – it was different and very delicious.
The Tom Yum packed a wonderful lemongrass, chilli and coconut punch which delivered a crisp but also creamy taste. In a home-style twist, the dish was served with gorgeous wild rice that delivered a rougher consistency, I found it worked perfectly with the soup and the other dishes we ordered.
Vegan Char Kreung was rich and hearty benefiting from the coconut milk and peanut. I often forgot we were eating a vegetarian version of this popular K’NYAY dish.
Probably my favourite dish of the evening was the Sweet Potato and Peanut stew. I’m a big fan of sweet potato and this dish didn’t disappoint, like the Char Kreung, it’s hearty but not heavy.
K’NYAY is Khmer for ginger and Run nominates it as his favourite ingredient. He says it’s so versatile – used in cooking, desserts even drinks and tea. I could taste the light touch of ginger throughout the meal, but never overpowering.
In a country where vegetarian eating isn’t a part of life, not surprisingly Run says the majority of their customers are from overseas. I’m pleasantly surprised that many Australians come to K’NYAY.
When you come to K’NYAY, keep an eye out for their distinctive “K” logo on Suramarit Blvd, they’re past the monument, head towards the Hong Kong Centre direction. When you see the logo, go down the lane way and turn right, it’s not that hard to find, but the video below might help.
Noodlies and guest dined courtesy of K’NYAY.
K’NYAY Khmer and Vegan Cuisine
25K Suramarit Blvd. (St. 268)
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
+855 (0)23 225 225