Magazine article The New Yorker

Kampuchea Noodle Bar; Tables for Two

Magazine article The New Yorker

Kampuchea Noodle Bar; Tables for Two

Article excerpt

78 Rivington St., at Allen St. (212-529-3901)--New York loves its noodles, judging from the enduring popularity of Carmine's, the ever-growing popularity of Momofuku, and the fact that the obituary of the inventor of instant ramen spent three days, earlier this month, atop the Times's list of most-e-mailed articles. So it was with ado that the chowing classes anticipated the opening of Kampuchea. Focussing on Cambodian regional specialties, the restaurant--from the former Fleur de Sel manager Ratha Chau--had become, as one food blog noted in November, "the focus of many a bleeding-edge eater." Gawker predicted, "This soup stand will be the new hotness."

At first glance, the place does possess a certain warmth. Copper pots hang, Julia Child-style, from the ceiling of an open kitchen; a waiter (perhaps a touch too intimately) works the room with a tank top over his T-shirt, which is kind of like wearing your blouse under your bra. His colleague sportingly plays along when a boisterous foursome, seated next to a man in a wool sweater patterned after a Budweiser label, subjects him to a game of Name That Movie Line. (Line: "I'm a fiend for mojitos! …

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