‘Simplicity is the beauty of life” and “variety is the spice of life”. These phrases come to mind when you enter Silent, a humble restaurant located on a quiet street in the capital’s Boeung Keng Kang III commune with a menu that can please even the pickiest eater.
Silent isn’t just a name, it’s the ambiance owner Vong Manith had in mind when he opened the restaurant in January.
Manith’s concept was to create a simple, serene atmosphere with a relaxing vibe and tasty food to give people a chance to recharge after a hard day’s work.
“The name was conceived after I couldn’t find this vibe in other eateries I’ve visited. A simple vibe where I can just be myself without loud crowds of people.
Therefore, I decided to open my own in the hopes of transferring this feeling to my customers,” he says.
Manith says he wants all of his patrons to feel at ease when they enter the restaurant. They don’t need to be luxuriously dressed or well-put-together, he just wants them to feel at home.
The restaurant isn’t completely silent. Customers can connect their devices to the restaurant’s speakers and enjoy their food while listening to their favourite songs – at a reasonable volume of course.
“I consider this is to be one of the exclusive experiences we offer here. The customers always fancy this part of our service and with a little romance-themed light, our customers can get lost in their own world,” Manith says.
Finding the right flavours
Manith’s friend, who has several years of experience cooking in and owning restaurants in Thailand, helped create Silent’s Thai and Khmer-inspired menu.
“All of the Thai recipes were directly delivered to our chef by my friend. He has selected all the best foods from Thailand such as fish larb, prawn larb and Three-Legged Chicken as well as some Khmer specialties.”
The 33-year-old Manith says these three dishes are the most beloved by customers.
Many people may picture raw fish when they hear the word “larb”, but in Thai kitchens, fish larb is a deep-fried fish combined with peanuts, minced lemongrass, turmeric, herbs, carrots and cucumbers. The melange of ingredients is seasoned to taste a little spicy and a little sour.
Prawn larb is similar to fish larb but the difference of taste in the seafood makes both larb dishes worth a try.
The Three-Legged Chicken (Moan Jerng Bey) is a dish of preserved spring onions mixed with dried shrimp and herbs. The classic Thai dish offers a one-of-a-kind taste that pairs perfectly with a glass of cold beer.
A majority of Silent’s dishes are reasonably priced between $2 and $6.
Apart from the delicious Asian cuisine, the restaurant also serves French red wine by the bottle or glass at an affordable price.
Besides the most popular three dishes, Manith urges customers to try the local Khmer cuisine on offer as well. These dishes might be commonplace in the capital, but their taste sets them apart.
A break from the riff-raff
Silent doesn’t have a flashy exterior and it’s easy to miss from the street, but the magic lies within, where the distinct lack of noise, the warm vibes and the meticulously crafted dishes combine for a special experience.
Besides a soothing atmosphere, Manith says he believes the most important part of running a restaurant is ensuring quality ingredients, and each ingredient at Silent is sourced locally.
“We have selected the highest quality type [of ingredients] because we believe that to cook a dish with a full flavour, it depends on the ingredients you use. And we are quite cautious of that,” he says.
“Lots of customers who come here always say they are truly satisfied with the simple vibe but they also are astonished by the food, the service and the hygiene. They have an amazing and refreshing time. That’s why I can’t move on from this name and I try my best to maintain the vibe here.”
Manith says he has prepared thermometers and sanitising alcohol and gel for each customer to use before entering the restaurant.
“Finally, I just want the customers to come and try the Thai food. They don’t need to go to Bangkok to try all those dishes, I have it all and I guarantee the taste [is natural].”
Manith added that his restaurant accepts reservations for celebrations and small gatherings and he plans on offering delivery service soon.
Silent is open from 4-11pm from Friday to Sunday and from 5-11pm on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays. It’s located on Street 95 Corner 376, Boeung Keng Kang III, Phnom Penh.