Home > Business, Cambodia Business News > Restaurant Review: Yumi, a Japanese Bistro in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Restaurant Review: Yumi, a Japanese Bistro in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

It actually began on a late night in Shanghai in March 2009, when the
chef, Caspar von Hofmannsthal, happened upon an izakaya, a Japanese
gastropub, hidden behind an unmarked door.
“It was packed, loud and smoky, but the food was so simple and
well-executed,” said Mr. von Hofmannsthal, 28, who previously managed
high-end London restaurants like Quo Vadis.
So when the Londoner moved to Phnom Penh two months later, he set out
to recreate the izakaya experience, but with a twist.
Mr. von Hofmannsthal opened Yumi
in November 2009, turning a garage into a sleek, ambient bistro with
recessed lighting, entered through a leafy terrace edged in funky
fortified vines.
“We let the ingredients speak for themselves,” Mr. von Hofmannsthal
said of the recipes that he and his head chef, Ross Erikson, conceive
in Yumi’s open kitchen.
Using locally grown, seasonal products — including whatever’s freshest
at the market — Yumi delivers small, artful, sauce-heavy plates of
pleasure that are meant to be shared. During a summer visit, these
included refreshingly light tempura squid with a ponzu dip spiced up
with chilies and garlic, and niku dango, skewered Japanese beef
meatballs, dressed in fragrant black pepper from the seaside town of
Then, there are the ribs. Sublime, supremely addictive,
melt-off-the-bone-and-into-your-mouth ribs: slow cooked, finished off
on the yakitori grill, and slathered in katsu sauce.
“People call ahead to ensure we haven’t run out of them,” Mr. von Hofmannsthal said.
Vegetables shone as well. Eggplant wheels were braised to a seductive
softness in mirin and soy sauce. A green bean and lotus root salad, in a frothy sesame paste emulsion, delicately balanced tender, woody bamboo root, served with crispy green beans, pumpkin seeds and disks of lotus.
For dessert, the young chef can’t help but return to his childhood.
Banoffee, or banana and toffee pie, is a staple of many English
families; Yumi’s “deconstructed version” features homemade ice cream
accompanied by a Cambodian miniature banana, drizzled with a toffee
recipe that the von Hofmannsthals have passed down for generations.
Yumi, 29a Street 288; (855) 92-163-903; theyumi.com. An average meal for two, without drinks or tip, is about $30 (U.S. dollars are widely accepted in Cambodia).
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