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Lime Nine Cafe

By: Roswell Thomas Posted: June-10-2011 in
Amok Pizza, Peking Duck Pancakes, and a Mango Chiller at the Lime Nine Cafe
Roswell Thomas

While some hotel owners might throw in a café by the lobby as an afterthought, the management at the Nine Hotel wants to make Lime Nine a destination for Phnom Penh locals as well. “We’re very proud of the café,” says the owner of the Nine Hotel and Lime Nine, who as a Phnom Penh dad became intimately familiar with the Sunday afternoon hotel pool circuit and business lunch scene; with Lime Nine café, he hopes to combine the best of both.

It takes a little extra effort for your $4.50 to $6 entrees to be considered “reasonably priced” in Phnom Penh, but Lime Nine does not disappoint. Its menu was developed with international and domestic culinary expertise, and food is prepared by veteran Phnom Penh restaurant staff. The owner is also an engineer, so kitchen processes are standardized to ensure elegant presentation and attention to detail. The Peking duck pancakes, presented in ready-made rolls stylishly arranged, come with a dipping sauce about as good as the Beijing version. The amok pizza is sure to thrill anyone who has just read about Khmer fish curry in Lonely Planet, but more seasoned residents will appreciate the surprising spiciness and rocket topping. If this strikes you as gimmicky, try the Mediterranean char grilled vegetable pizza – a well-executed standard. The mango coolers are delicious and fabulously thick.

The food is good and the setting is tranquil – air conditioned (“working in business here, I look for air conditioned places to go to lunch” says owner Mark), elegantly furnished with help from top designers iChing, and surrounded by the bright white walls of a former UN bunker.

The Lime Nine café was originally built as a refuge for a much harsher Phnom Penh than you live in today, designed to house and protect UN workers who came to supervise Cambodia’s 1994 elections. The owners have refitted it for the requirements of 21st century Phnom Penh. It’s elegant, air conditioned, and delicious. Security has even been updated with a small moat – just watch out for inflatable crocodiles.

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