Eat: Fine dining at Van's Restaurant

Personally, I think everyone who comes to Phnom Penh should go to Van's at least once.  

We discovered Van's by accident a couple of years ago.  We had met up with a friend who was visiting from overseas, we met at Raffles for happy hour and were then heading on to La Marmite, which turned out to be closed for renovations.  We had not been in Phnom Penh very long and so, in a desperate attempt to save the evening, we quickly flicked through our friend's Lonely Planet guide looking for something else close by.

Lonely Planet recommended Van's, so off we went.  The Lonely Planet, somewhat misleadingly, also states that dishes start from $5.  After a cursory glance a the menu, we quickly decided that we would just splurge and enjoy ourselves.  And that's exactly what we did.

I remember that evening as being one of the best meals we've had in Phnom Penh.  I don't remember clearly what we ate (although I have some idea my main dish included veal and mushrooms), I also remember a very nice red wine, but what stood out was the grand building and fantastic service.

Van's is located in the old Indochine Bank, you can actually still peek into the old vaults on the ground floor.  The dining room is in what was previously the offices.  Intrigued by the building I asked one of the waitresses about the history.  She politely excused herself and came back a few minutes later with an elderly gentlemen, who she said would be able to tell us.  The gentleman told us his name, which I have since forgotten, and proceeded to tell us a lively and interesting account of both the building and the Van family.  It is primarily his story telling that made this such a memorable meal.

I would thoroughly recommend Vans as a special occasion restaurant in Phnom Penh. However, the bill for the evening was considerably more than we were used to paying in Phnom Penh and more than we could make room for in our budget on a regular basis.

That was until we discovered the lunchtime set menu.   Everyday Van's offers a daily dish for $9, or as part of a two course menu with wine and coffee for just $15.  

At this price and for the quality, I think this is one of the best value meals in town.  

Every time we come to Van's we are offered a complimentary appetizer   Always a tasty morsel, when we went a couple of weeks ago it was smoked salmon.

Warm white and walnut rolls.

The dish of the day was pan-fried veal picatta style, served with asparagus gnocchi and truffle oil.  Along with a glass of the lovely house Merlot.

Not only is the food beautiful, the servings are very generous.  I was a little nervous about the gnocchi as I have tried a number of attempts at gnocchi in Phnom Penh, all of which have been terrible.  But this gnocchi was perfect.

Dessert was profiteroles with homemade mint ice-cream.  The ice-cream was lovely with a mild mint flavour.

And coffee and tea to finish.

As always, the service was impeccable.  This is one of those places where the staff manage to make you feel like you are their most important guests.

To me, this is the perfect affordable indulgence.

The set menu offers only one option for mains and your choice of entree or dessert.  If you're a little bit fussy (like the Boy), you can check out the dish of the day online before you go, the weekly menu is published every Monday.  If you do stop by, don't forget to check out the old bank vaults to the right of the stairs before you leave.

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1 comment:

  1. We visited Van's while honeymooning in Cambodia in 2011 and were likewise charmed. Thanks for the photographic trip down memory lane!


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