The most recent addition to the Russian Market (Tuol Tom Poung) neighbourhood’s fast-growing food scene is a two-for-one.The dual-concept space has a Spanish tapas bar upstairs called Tipico with an Asian-themed burger joint called Roots and Burgers below.
Both spots are set to stay open until 11pm – a novelty in an area that on most nights dozes off quite early. Tipico opened last week to a large crowd, while Roots and Burgers will start serving customers in the coming days.
The project has been carefully planned by Tania Unsworth and Marco Julià Eggert, a European couple who have come up with a running list of restaurant ideas while living in Phnom Penh for the past three years.
“Instead of making one big restaurant, we did them both,” Marco explained with a laugh this week. “I guess it’s a way to diversify the risk more.” Both have deep roots in the restaurant industry.
For Marco, who is also the managing director at the FCC, they go back a couple of generations to his Spanish grandfather.
Tipico takes as its inspiration Marco’s native Barcelona. Spanish-inspired but locally sourced tiles line the floor and a long wooden bar stocked with ingredients for fresh, handmade cocktails anchors the space.
Most of the tables are set up in a converted balcony beneath a long bank of windows with a panoramic view of the surrounding neighbourhood.
Sitting in the sunlight, tapas classics such as the ham croquettes ($4.75), patatas bravas (fried potatoes) ($4.50) and gambas al ojillo (prawns with garlic) ($6.95) went down well with a fresh fruit smoothie ($3.25). While there is a wide selection of nibbles in the menu, the breadth of drinks is almost as varied.
In fact, the first page is devoted entirely to the gin and tonic (starting at $4.50), Spain’s appropriated national cocktail. (“I have to say we have the best gin and tonics in Spain,” Marco says.) Nine types of gin are paired with different garnishes. Also on offer are a handful of other cocktails available by the glass or by the jug, as well as an extensive list of Spanish and Chilean wines.
Behind a door next to the bar, a dumbwaiter connects Tipico to the space below. The kitchen is located on the ground floor with Roots and Burgers, and the two restaurants will share a chef – also a Spanish native.
Roots and Burgers will open earlier in the day and serve burgers and vegetables with Asian flavours – an alternative to the Western-style burgers and fries served elsewhere in the city – as well as a selection of steamed bao buns, Chinese-style pork rolls with growing global popularity.
Marco says they drew on ideas from cities around the region and, strangely enough, London – “where there is currently a bao bun craze”.
The downstairs restaurant will also feature a selection of teas and coffees, as with the tapas bar, and take on more of a cafe vibe. Tania and Marco envision a migration up the stairs as the evening wears on.
While the addition of the two restaurants is set to substantially increase the diversity of food on offer around Russian Market, according to Rene Fritschi, a friend and consultant on the business, the new space’s greatest selling point is the European operating hours.
“I know it’s good for the whole area, because in the evening there’s not much open after 9pm,” he said. Tipico Tapas (open 11am to 11pm) is located at #80 Street 454, on the first floor. Roots and Burgers (open 7am to 11pm) will launch downstairs early this week. Tel: 023 986 453.