Ratha Chaupoly and partner Scott Burnett have divided Kampuchea into two restaurants–the main dining room going fancy, the new Norry next door concentrating on small plates, sandwiches, and cocktails. We love Chaupoly’s sandwich shop, Numpang, which turns out thoroughly delicious stuff. So last night we trotted down to The Norry, named after Cambodia’s improvised bamboo trains, hungry and with high hopes.
The best offerings are the num pang sandwiches, on excellent, crackly-crusted Parisi Bakery bread as at the dedicated Numpang shop. We ordered two that we haven’t seen on the menu at Numpang: oxtail, tamarind, and honey ($13); and bacon, pickled chile, and red onions ($9). Both were wonderful–a friend called the crisp bacon version the “best BLT ever.” The oxtail, cooked down to tenderness and shredded, was also delicious, the richness of the meat countered by tart tamarind and pickled daikon and carrot.
Of the small plates, fried chicken ($11) got the most approval, especially when the breaded fingers were squirted with lemon, and dragged through a chile-salt mixture. Grilled corn ($6) was also good, although it should be when slathered with chile mayo, coconut flakes, and chile powder.
Unfortunately, other small plates didn’t have the bold, well-balanced flavors you expect from Chaupoly’s cooking. Slices of corned beef tongue were so soft that they verged on mush, and the promised dried shrimp garnish was nowhere to be found. Caramelized and tender pork ribs ($16) were darkly sticky with a tasty tamarind glaze, but served with an inexplicably tasteless cilantro lime sauce. And the price seemed too high for five ribs.
Cocktails are fine, especially the Phnom Penh hot punch ($12)–a warming concoction of hot apple cider, caramel tea, cinnamon, rum, Courvoisier, Cointreau, lemon juice, almond syrup, and agave nectar.
We’d go back again to see if The Norry has found it’s footing, but right now it’s good not great–not the home run we thought it might be.
Chatting with Ratha Chaupoly