Cambodian restaurant – one of only five in the UK – set to open in Buxton

A Cambodian restaurant – one of only five in the entire UK – is set to open in Buxton

By Ben McVay
Thursday, 18th June 2020, 12:26 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th June 2020, 1:14 pm

Angkor Soul - based at the Portland Hotel - will open its doors to diners in September.

Owner and head chef Y Sok (pronounced (E Soak) says the new eatery will deliver ‘good quality traditional Khmer cuisine’.

Amazingly the new eating place will be one of only five dedicated restaurants in the country where foodies can try Cambodian food.

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Bun Hoi - rice noodle salad with lemongrass chicken, fresh vegetables, peanuts and sweet fish sauce dressing

Apart from the planned Buxton outlet there are currently just three in Manchester - two of which are run by Angkor Soul - and one other in Camden, London.

Y - who settled in England after leaving Cambodia as a girl - described her home country’s cooking as ‘similar to Vietnamese or Thai food but with an element of French food’.

She added: “Anyone who likes Thai or Vietnamese will love Cambodian food - the closest thing would be a cross between the two.

“But there’s an element of French food such as bread, butter and coffee because Cambodia was a French colony.

Lemongrass Grilled Lamb Chops with Kampot peppercorn

“It’s much lighter than Thai food with its coconut curries but it’s slightly heavier than Vietnamese - somewhere between the two.”

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Angkor Soul caters for meat and fish eaters but vegans are also well-looked after.

Included in the menu is the national dish of fish curry cooked in a banana leaf, with coconut milk, lemongrass paste, and kaffir lime leaves and French-influenced sauteed beef in butter and garlic.

Y Sok outside her Marple restaurant

But for non-meat-eaters there is traditional Khmer curry with braised green jackfruit, cinnamon, star anise and cardamom, simmered in coconut milk, peanuts and lemongrass - among other options.

Speaking about the curious lack of Cambodian restaurants Y - who lived in the USA before meeting Mancunian husband Jonathan Schofield - told how the UK population was just 1,000.

Mum-of-one Y, 43, launched her first restaurant in Marple in 2015 - starting with a lunch menu then adding dinner as word got around.

She told how ‘within six months we were packed and booked for months in advance’.

Y Sok promises ‘good quality traditional Khmer cuisine’

Y said after opening another restaurant in Altrincham three years later she and husband Jonathan had decided to look further afield.

She said: “There were a lot of places to choose from but it always feels a bit more special in a small town where there’s not the same ethnic offering.

“From Buxton you would have to travel to a big city and we like the repeat custom.”

Though Y admitted having a Cambodian restaurant would attract more people to Buxton from surrounding areas she said the main draw would be ‘the quality of the food’.

Speaking about the Portland Hotel she said: “It’s a really beautiful space and very different to what we’ve done before.

Nom Bachok - Cambodian rice noodles with curry broth and banana blossoms

“But we really like is the amount of parking there - we’re not a passing trade kind of place and rely on word of mouth.”

Angkor Soul hope to open at the Portland Hotel in September though Y says if coronavirus restrictions are still in place it may be operated with social distancing and fewer places available.

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Angkor Cauliflower - a signature dish of fried cauliflower glazed in honey, and chillies.jpg