Rarely would you hear me say, "you know what? I could really go for some Cambodian." In fact, I wonder how many people actually say that to begin with. But if the meal in question is coming from The Norry at Kampuchea, I can see myself saying it more often..
Right next door to Kampuchea is The Norry, a more casual, Cambodian dining experience. Wooden high top tables and a white-tiled ceiling suggest low-key style with a modern twist. I'd love to say "evokes thoughts of an old Cambodian sandwich shop," but I have no clue what a Cambodian sandwich shop would look like. The menu is small, but it's got the main staples from Kampuchea, including grilled corn (fantastic) and some of their popular sandwiches.
Me and my friend Hal decided to share a couple small plates and each get a sandwich. Figured that would be enough food, and according to the waitress, the glazed ribs ($16) and the grilled corn ($6) were the largest of the "small plates", so…that's what we got. For the sandwiches, I ordered the catfish sandwich (catfish, cracked pepper, honey and soy sauce, $11) and Hal got the shrimp sandwich (shrimp, coconut milk, toasted coconut flakes, $12).
The corn was by far my favorite of the meal; it's 4 pieces of grilled corn with chili mayo, chili powder and coconut flakes. This place really loves their coconut – but for good reason in this case. The corn itself was nice and sweet, but the spicy chili mayo mixed with the coconut flakes was an awesome combination I definitely wasn't expecting. Neither flavor was overpowering, you get a little spicy, a little sweet in every bite. Kudos for coconut corn.
The ribs were really tender – I pulled the bone right out of it and it came off clean. They weren't really saucy ribs though, despite the "tamarind-glazed" description, and they came with a cilantro-lime sauce to dip in. Now, here's my one gripe: cilantro. I pretty much despise cilantro in anything other than guacamole (I love guacamole so much that for the sake of it, I have learned to tolerate the cilantro), so this sauce was just OK to me. It was very mild, didn't have a lot of flavor and it was very "milky." Even though we both agreed that the sauce wasn't anything spectacular, we still kept eating it with the ribs. Maybe it complimented the ribs better than we thought..or it was there, so we ate it.
Tamarind-glazed ribs with cilantro-lime sauce
Grilled corn and rib on my plate
Now, what did I just say about cilantro? Yea – my sandwich was like a cilantro bomb, but fortunately, I was able to pick most of it off. It was literally like a cilantro patch on top of my catfish. Alright I'll stop (but know that I COULD go on about this). Other than that, I really liked the sandwich; the catfish was moist, the sauce was tangy (honey & soy sauce), and I thought the carrots and cucumbers rounded it out and gave it a cool, refreshing taste. Some would say cilantro gives a cool, refreshing taste too…but I don't listen to those people. The shrimp sandwich was decent, I personally liked mine better. It was milder than the catfish for sure, but here was my issue with it, though Hal did not encounter the same problem. I couldn't get a good "bite"; the shrimp were relatively large, and when I bit down, I just pulled the shrimp out of the sandwich rather than taking a bite out of it. What can I say? I'm a lady. I'm dainty. I take small bites. Ok, not really – but I would have preferred the shrimp to be butterflied or at the very least, cut in half. For me the shrimp was good, but I would go back for the catfish a lot quicker.
Since there is no dessert at The Norry (fail), I will briefly discuss the alcohol. The cocktail list was by far the most intriguing; there were so many ingredients in some of them it was hard to get an idea of what it would taste like. Normally I can read a description and sort of taste it before I actually taste it. This tactic didn't work here. I got the Salty Lips Lemonade (vodka, lime juice, simple syrup, thai basil, club soda, and Himalayan pink salt rim, $12). I imagined it tasting like a sweet and tart lemonade with basil (something I've had before), instead I got kind of watery and tart with a hint of basil. To be honest the only thing I could really taste was the basil. One thing I will say though, it was one of those cleverly mixed drinks where you don't taste the alcohol, but later on, you feel it. And that's never a bad thing. As for the beer selection, I have no comment because I'm not a big fan of beer, but Hal said it was "a refreshing selection – not the same beer you would see at every restaurant, but nothing too crazy for the average beer drinker." And Hal is definitely your average (or not-so-average?) beer drinker.
The Norry was a solid choice for dinner, and due to the sandwich/beer special (any sandwich & tap beer is $3), I would imagine it's great for lunch too. It's one of those places that has perfect "sharing" portions, because with two small plates, and a sandwich each, we left feeling satisfied but not too full. We had just enough room to pop over to Stuffed Artisan Cannoli's for dessert. Stay tuned for that one. As for The Norry, I now have new respect for the coconut and it's versatility.
The Norry at Kampuchea
76 Rivington St (btwn Allen and Orchard)
Absolutely stunning and yummy..