While serving superb Japanese food is vital, Japanese Restaurant Roku on Street 63 in Phnom Penh offers its diners something beyond the tantalising taste of Japan.
On top of the excellent food and beverages, Roku creates an energetic space that still allows for privacy.
This makes it an apt choice for VIPs such as Hollywood A-list celebrity Angelina Jolie and Japanese football player Keisuke Honda, who also serves as the general manager and coach of Cambodia’s national football team.
The three-storey restaurant, which has been running successfully for the past four years, has a few tables outdoors and a few others on the ground floor where photos of celebrities and other smiling guests can be seen.
The first and second floors host five big dining rooms designed with sleek wooden floors and bamboo walls inspired by Japanese architecture.
The restaurant’s co-founder Mech Pagna says Roku focuses on taste, quality, hygiene and hospitality.
“We operate on one unchanging philosophy – to treat all our patrons as VIPs. We understand that people prefer to have a personal space and to dine in a private and peaceful atmosphere.
“Even if they happen to be celebrities, we won’t allow taking photos without their permission. Everything needs to be organised and their privacy respected,” said Pagna.
“That is why the staff immediately leave the table after they finish serving our patrons. We’ve provided buttons on each table that they can press to call for staff assistance. For the rest of their dining experience, patrons are assured of privacy without any staff presence.”
Talking about the privilege of having served several celebrities, Pagna says: “Jolie came to our restaurant during her latest directorial effort in Cambodia.
“We welcomed her just like we do any guest. For Honda, he usually comes here for business gatherings. We displayed their photos on the ground floor after seeking their permission.”
During The Post’s visit, Ouk Phany, one of the customers there, said she frequently ate at Roku due to its proximity and the delicious food they serve.
“I can say I’m a fan of this restaurant because it’s close to my office and the food is quite delicious. The meat smells good and I feel safe about the food on my plate. It’s healthy and affordable too,” Phany says.
“One of my favourite dishes is the takoyaki which looks similar to our Khmer Nom Kruok but with a completely different taste. Another is fried oysters since I don’t like raw food.
“The beef here is also good, but I prefer it cooked well-done as opposed to medium-rare, which Western people usually like. My grandchildren love the restaurant’s fresh salmon, as well.”
For the lunch menu, Roku serves affordable meals such as kaisen don or sashimi rice bowl ($12), Nigiri sushi set ($14), salmon and ikura don ($9.8), tonpeiyaki ($6.8), salmon yaki ($7) and saba yaki ($7).
The dinner menu and the restaurant’s specials offer a selection of tori karaage ($6), sukiyaki niku tofu ($8), California roll ($8), tomato salad ($4.5), sashimi mori matoso ($47), kaki fry ($5) and takoyaki ($4.5).
According to Pagna, most of the ingredients and spices are imported directly from Japan to guarantee the authentic taste of Japanese cuisine. Beef, chicken and pork are mostly bought from the US. The restaurant tries to source locally grown vegetables as much as it can.
“Admittedly, we cannot use the word “totally natural or organic” for our vegetables here. As you all know, it is difficult to identify which is organic and which is not.
“But we still try to get local produce, such as cabbages grown by Khmer farmers, even if they’re more expensive than those imported from neighbouring countries,” Pagna says.
Despite being the go-to Japanese restaurant for famous people, Roku’s price range remains reasonable compared to most other Japanese restaurants. To make it even sweeter, Roku offers massive discounts for six days each month.
Called “Roku Day”, the six-day discount falls on the sixth, ninth, 16th, 19th, 26th and 29th of each month, with 50 per cent discount on all items in the menu for member customers.
“The idea of Roku Day is rooted in the restaurant’s name. Roku in Japanese means happiness. It sounds similar to the numbers six and nine in the Japanese language where roku means six and ku means nine.
“That’s why we chose the days with those two numbers to offer our customers the special discount,” Pagna says.
Besides Roku Day, clients can purchase a membership card for $6 that would give them a 20 per cent discount every day for a whole year.
Japanese Restaurant Roku is located at 53B on Street 63 in Daun Penh disctrict’s Boeung Raing commune.
Opening hours are from 11:30am to 11pm.
For more information, contact 095 460 077.