On an evening when Cambodia’s tropical weather was at its coolest month, some people were craving for hot and spicy meals to warm up their stomach.
While it is not hard to find local restaurants serving spicy food, it’s not common to enjoy hot, plentiful seafood at an affordable price.
Located behind the National Paediatric Hospital on Russian Federation Boulevard, a small restaurant offer diners a comfortable way to enjoy sea food while dropping etiquette.
The sign says “Samut Anousa” which literally means “memory from the sea”. There is no wonder that the star of the menu comes straight from the blue salty water of Cambodia’s southwest coastal zone.
“The seafood supply is sourced from different provinces such as Kampot, Koh Kong and Kampong Som [Preah Sihanouk] with a very selective quality”, the restaurant owner, Sot Ratha, tells The Post.
The 27-year-old says Samut Anousa, which was opened October last year, has kept customers coming back for more.
“‘Samut’ is ‘sea’ in English and since our restaurant focuses on seafood, I think it’s a great idea. ‘Anousa’ means ‘memory’. You can think of it as meaning people usually love the sea when they come to visit, and they miss it so they will always come back to visit again,” the sea-lover says.
Samut Anousa offers various kinds of boiled, grilled, or deep-fried seafood. The must-try is the Seafood Shake, a $10 bucket of assorted seafood in savoury sauce.
It is a casual meal with no plates needed – the spicy seafood bucket will go straight on your table.
An extra tip for customers is to avoid wearing a fancy white top – or else they’ll need aprons.
As customers waited to satisfy their appetites, staff wearing face masks carefully poured out the freshly cooked seafood coated in bright rich sauce right onto a sheet of paper on the table.
Then it was time to put on a pair of plastic gloves and ditch etiquette to feast on the pile of delicious seafood.
Seafood Shake is served as a $10 set good for two to three people or a $15 set good for four to five people.
A set consists of lobster, prawns, crab, squid, clams, hotdog sausages, meatballs, corn and spaghetti mixed together and bathed in a spicy red sauce – a mouth-watering dish.
Customers in larger groups can tack on extra orders of individual ingredients without needing to purchase a whole set. Extra seafood costs $2 while corn, hotdog sausages or meatballs will set them back $1.
Despite the fair blend of sour, sweet, salty and spicy flavours to match Asian taste buds, the Seafood Shake offers a casual and fun dining experience.
In addition to the signature dish, prawns with crispy fried garlic, Khmer noodle with clams, and grilled seafood are also popular among patrons.
The ingredients are all local supplied.
Serving mainly seafood, Samut Anousa might leave passersby with an impression that it’s not for people with shallow pockets.
But in fact, most dishes come with prices ranging from $2.50 to $5, except the Seafood Shake which can feed a small group.
“All the dishes we have mentioned are from the evening menu, but we also have different lunch sets which only cost 9,000 riel ($2.25) a piece. Some might think it’s a bit expensive for a meal, but we really serve big portions.
“We don’t want to sell at a cheaper price but smaller quantity and let customers’ stomachs feel empty even after eating,” he says.
Most customers have given good feedback and reviews on social media.
Lim Marady, for one, left with a review saying: “Food is authentic, quick service and friendly staff.”
Another patron who identified himself as a former tour organiser wrote on Facebook that despite the good food, he was not satisfied with the decor of the restaurant.
Samut Anousa’s owner says he’s still new in the restaurant business but is considering improving the vibe and interior.
“Honestly speaking, I’m very young in this kind of business. To me, it seems like a woman’s job, but I’m interested to try something different.
“Everything you see here is my [idea]. And I can tell you there is a lot of room for improvement.
“The decor of the restaurant, for instance, has just a plain sort of table. When we first started, and since we offer lunch as well, we thought it would be prudent to use this kind of table.”
Ratha continues: “I don’t know what we can do with it yet, but we are hoping to adjust our environment and work harder on our service at lunch time when [the restaurant] is full.”
Ratha says he is taking into account everything his customers have to say, either positive or negative.
Having said that, he recalled a time when there were customers advising him to take out the shells from the Seafood Shake because they made it hard to eat – with some shells even having particles of dirt which customers complained spoiled the rest of the dish.
“I listened to them and made changes by taking out the shells from the recipe.”
Samut Anousa opens for lunch from 10:30am to 1:30pm and dinner from 4pm to 9pm.
For delivery Samut Anousa can be contacted via contact number 016 662 129 or to Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/SamutAnousa.