Tapas, Wine and Lounging

Jody Hanson, Ph.D / Khmer Times No Comments Share:

Carramelized cheese balls are the best seller. (KT Photo: Billy Otter)
PHNOM PENH, (Khmer Times) – According to Joaquin – a skinny chef who showers often and writes books – “The happiness of our customers is our ultimate goal.” At Quitapenas – which means “take away your troubles” in Spanish – quality reigns over quantity.
He says: “Everything on the menu that isn’t deep-fried starts with imported, high-quality olive oil. About 80 percent of our products are brought in from France, Italy and Japan. The rest are bought daily from Central Market where I have developed a rapport with the merchants to get the best produce.”
“The American approach to food – where one portion is enough for three people – is unacceptable. With tapas you can share and try seven or eight tastes with friends and enjoy the meal with wine,” Joaquin commented.  
The menu changes monthly. Fortunately, some staples remain entrenched. The goat cheese balls with caramelized onion leads the best-seller list. Too-good-to-waste home-made reduced balsamic vinegar is drizzled across the plate, so elegantly swipe it with a finger or ask for a bit of bread to sop it up.
Other can’t-go-wrong choices are red tuna tartar with mint and avocado ($8.5) and octopus Galicia-style in a Spanish tortilla ($8). Eight vegetarian options are on offer.
For paella fans, there are three sizes: small ($20), medium ($40) and large ($60). And since it takes quite a while to prepare, it provides an opportunity for another drink.
Those wanting a happy ending can opt for mint ice cream ($4.5), assorted French cheese ($ 7.5) or forest fruit with vanilla ice-cream ($5.5).
“Wine is available by the glass – from $6 to $8. Or by the bottle. We have wines from around the world, and a mark-up policy that keeps our wine affordable, “ said Joaquin who hails from southern spain.
The wine is listed by price and starts with Tribu Viognier from Argentina ($22). A touch further along is Petit Clos from New Zealand ($38.) it moves up to Pintia, Tinto de Toro from Spain ($110).  Or as the menu says; “The red wine may not be organic, but it is orgasmic.”
“And, by the way, there is no sangria here.” Joaquin sniffed, with a touch of distain in his voice.  “That is made from crap wine and mixed with all sorts of juices. It is for tourists who just want to get drunk. We also stock Japanese beer, sake and Cuban cigars.”
The social side
“The majority of our clientele are local expats, so we have repeat business. A few tourists come along – particularly during high season – and more Khmer are starting to try our food.”
“We have at least one event a month. It might be a wine and food pairing or a special gala dinner to feature food from a specific region, he concluded.”
The first anniversary of the restaurant was Monday, July 14. But there is time . The party was delayed until tomorrow, Saturday July 19 and will feature sparking wine and Japanese oysters. 
The Khmer Times wishes Quitapenas many more anniversaries and good evenings of eating tapas, drinking wine and lounging around in a relaxed ambience.
Quita penas : #14B street 264 Reservations 088-8-222-880

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