Taking over the space at the Tennyson Hotel drive-through bottle-o, most recently home to Mr Liquor's Dirty Italian Disco, Kingdom of Rice is a collaboration between the crew from ACME and Merivale — the latter being new owners of the hotel.
Kingdom of Rice has set up shop here for a lively six-month stint, dishing up a fun, colourful menu loaded with classic Khmer flavours and culinary techniques. And of course, plenty of that signature ACME creative streak. It's fare that promises to pack a punch to all the senses, with a share-friendly offering of snacks, skewers, grilled delights, wok dishes, noodles and — of course — rice.
ACME co-owner Mitch Orr will be working in the kitchen with head chef Lillia McCabe, who has just returned from a stint at Singapore's Blackwattle. They are joined on the floor by another ACME co-owner Cam Fairbairn and head of front-of-house Sophia Thach. Thach is of Cambodian descent and spent time living in working in Phnom Penh, and has brought her first-hand experience of the region to the pop-up.
On the menu, expect starters like trey neet alek (dried fish and watermelon) and svay kchey (green mango with chilli and salt), and skewers featuring the likes of shiitake mushroom and lemongrass beef, each served with baguette and a pickled green papaya salad.
The heftier end of the lineup sees plates like chicken wings stuffed with a traditional Cambodian spice paste, pipis with lime and kampot pepper, whole fish with coconut and lemongrass served hot from the grill, and pandan coconut waffles teamed with coconut sorbet.
The self-serve bottle shop set-up remains as it was for Mr Liquor's, though this time the walk-in fridge is stocked with easy-drinking Asian brews and natural wines sourced from across the country. Cocktails share the menu's Cambodian leanings, with sips including the Pandan Piña Colada and a Hennessy and Jasmine Tea.
Head in, nab a plastic market stool and dive into some gutsy fare, while old-school Cambodian movies flicker on the colourful walls.
Images: Nikki To