The Tennyson Hotel opens Kingdom of Rice pop-up restaurant this week

As Australian Hotelier reported back in September, Merivale’s Tennyson Hotel is the new home for Cambodian pop-up restaurant, Kingdom of Rice.

It’s now been confirmed the venue will open this Friday 12 October, serving up Cambodian-style street food for a six-month stint, along with changing direction to Asian beers and natural wines.

The team behind inner-East restaurant, ACME – Mitch Orr, Cam Fairbairn, Lillia McCabe and Sophia Thach – have drawn inspiration from good friend and front of house manager Thach to create the vibrant menu. Thach is of Khmer descent and recently spent time in Phnom Penh, reconnecting with the flavours of her heritage.

“We have always been fascinated by Southeast Asia and Sophia has cooked so many incredible dishes over the years that really introduced us to Khmer cuisine”, says Orr. “The ingredients used ignite all the senses, not just taste”.

Guests can buy their own alcohol from the walk-in bottleshop fridge, choosing from a wide range of varieties including small new producers handpicked by Merivale’s Group Sommelier Franck Moreau, Mr Wong’s Assistant Sommelier Fabio Pallottini and the ACME team. For the drinks list, Group Bars Manager Sam Egerton has taken inspiration from classic Cambodian flavours and drinks, like the fresh whole coconut rum, Pandan Piña Colada and Hennessy & Jasmine Tea.

“Phnom Penh is a real sensory overload. There’s laughter and noise of people everywhere, the smell of food cooked over charcoal, colours of fresh tropical fruits and an amazing sense of community. That is really what we have wanted to capture at Kingdom of Rice”, says Orr.

Kingdom of Rice is Merivale’s second collaboration at the Tennyson Hotel, after American-style Italian eatery, Dirty Italian Disco, with Mike Eggert and Jemma Whiteman.

Merivale acquired The Tennyson Hotel in December 2016. The pub itself will continue to operate as normal with no immediate plans for a major refurbishment.

“We want to explore the fundamentals of Cambodian cooking, showcasing classic flavours across wok and grill dishes”, says McCabe. “It is loud, colourful and a lot of fun, and we can’t wait for people to get stuck in”.

The menu includes five categories of shared-style dining; snacks, skewers, grill, wok, noodles and rice. Diners can start with prahok k’tis (crudites with prahok k’tis, a dip made with fermented fish paste, pork belly and kreung), svay kchey (green mango, chilli and salt) and ‘trey neet alek’ (dried fish and watermelon), followed by a selection of skewers served with chlouh (pickled green papaya salad) and numpang (baguette) – phsaet ung (shiitake mushroom), sach chrouk ung (caramelised pork) and sach gor ung (lemongrass beef).

Hot off the wok are classics including bort ling (corn, dried shrimps and scallions), cha dtrop (chicken, smoked eggplant and coriander) and cha le’a samot tdek meric (pippies, lime and kampot pepper), while slab moan baoek ung (kreung stuffed chicken wings), trey ung (whole fish, lemongrass, coconut and herbs) and murk ung (calamari, pork fat and scallions) are served straight from the grill.

Rounding out the savoury offering is a selection of noodle and rice dishes that pair with the mains. For dessert, explore the fruits of South East Asia with jek ung (grilled banana, sticky rice and caramel), noum dorng karem (pandan coconut waffle and coconut sorbet) and bobor lapoav (roasted pumpkin, tapioca and coconut milk).

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