We have read numerous articles about the North Korean Restaurant – Pyongyang. These restaurants can be found in a handful of locations around the world providing delicious North Korean delicacies. We had assumed based on what we had read that it would be quite a sterile environment with beautiful but standoffish North Korean waitresses providing entertainment.
Some of the above was certainly true. However, our experience was very different to those of other blog writers like Noodlies and others that I cannot find right now no matter how hard I google. Most other bloggers wrote about how they were unable to take any photos, ask questions, and felt weird just being there. For us, it was very different.
We were heading to Pyongyang Restaurant in Phnom Penh, Cambodia using Google maps. The marked destination turned out to be a few blocks away from the actual restaurant. Purely by chance we happened to go down Street 200 which, it turns out, is where the restaurant actually is. I'm not sure if they've moved or if Google maps is simply wrong, which it often is in south east Asia. After discovering the restaurant by accident we went to the place on the map to double check and there definitely was no restaurant there. Here is a map of the location of Pyongyang Restaurant in Phnom Penh.
The restaurant is certainly quite an eye-full when you first see it. It's a little out of place on Street 200 however that makes it easy to spot. Pyongyang Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily. Opening times are approximately 11:30am to 2:30pm and 5:30pm to 11:00pm.
We headed to the restaurant for dinner and were quickly whisked to a very tidy table and chair setting in an extremely clean restaurant. Certainly the cleanest restaurant we visited anywhere in Cambodia. A very large menu was handed to us. It was large both in terms of weight and the number of dishes on offer. Deciding took quite some time. Eventually we chose a beef and rice dish, and a kimchi and rice dish.
We didn't really choose our meals too wisely. As we were both very hungry and a little too excited we went for the easy options instead of trying something completely different. We were in a North Korean restaurant after all. Silly us.
While we waited for our meals to arrive, our lovely waitress delivered us our drinks and a number of little side plates for us to share. There were fried peanuts, kimchi, pickled chillies and flavoured beans for us to snack on. We were very pleased.
Our waitress made sure we were happy and well looked after while also attending to the table of gentlemen next to us. They had ordered a special barbecue set. We should have ordered one of those. It looked really good.
Although their English was certainly good enough for introductions and order taking our Korean is non-existent so general conversation with the waitresses was difficult. The people at the other table spoke what I presume was Korean and spent much of the evening chatting with the waitresses.
Our meals arrived. They looked great and they even tasted better too. The kimchi rice was perfect in flavour for us. It wasn't too spicy or too strong, just right for the tourist tongue. The beef and rice dish was lovely but not as good as the kimchi rice. While we ate, we had our glasses of iced green tea regularly topped up.
After we finished our meals, our waitress was coaxed on to the stage for a spot of karaoke entertainment. Perhaps as it was so quiet the other waitresses kept a low profile leaving one waitress in particular responsible for the entertainment duties. Other blog writers had described the North Korean waitresses getting up on stage dressed in fancy outfits and dancing and singing for the clientèle.
Alas, we only had our one Pyongyang Restaurant waitress to entertain us. She did a great job singing both Korean and English songs. She asked us if we wanted to get up there to sing, we politely declined. Karaoke isn't really our thing, let alone when you have to follow the incredibly polished performance delivered by our host. The gentlemen at the other table happily got up and sang. Good for them. We enjoyed ourselves.
Before we left, we asked our waitress if Andrew could have a photo with her. She happily agreed.
Pyongyang North Korean Restaurant:
Street 200, Phnom Penh, Cambodia – map link
Open: 11:30am – 2:30pm; 5:30pm – 11:00pm