Chinese House is among Phnom Penh’s most unique Asian fusion restaurants, cocktail bars, night-life destinations and event spaces. Set among the last remaining authentic Chinese Houses in the Charming City of Phnom Penh.
Chinese House incorporates a decadent cocktail lounge, a pleasant outdoor terrace and a restaurant which elegantly couples ingredients from the East and techniques from the West, creating unrivaled contemporary Asian fusion cuisine with an enticing array of cocktails and wines to choose from.
Welcome to Chinese House, where past meets present, and the East meets the West in expertise, elegance, taste and charm. It offers a unique representation of style in an era which celebrated beauty, value, tranquility, tradition and style.
Chef Amy Baard
Chef Amy Baard comes from South Africa. After working with award-winning Chef Christian Campbell, she moved her career to Southeast Asia, where she oversaw several award-winning hotel openings in Vietnam and Thailand.
Amy was awarded “Best Upcoming Junior Chef Worldwide” for Accor Hotels International, and won “Iron Chef” Thailand in 2014.
Amy’s cuisine blends her native South African cuisine with the finest regional flavors she discovers in Asia, using modern culinary techniques. South African cuisine is often referred to as “Rainbow Cuisine” because of the large variety of multicultural sources and influences it incorporates. This combination results in a contemporary Asian fusion cuisine in which her feminine touch shines on every dish through her attention to details and artistic plating.
The house was probably built between 1903 and 1905. Maps dating back to 1910 first show Chinese House clearly marked at the corner of “Rue des Ecoles” and “Quai Lagrandiere”. A small hand-drawn map dated 1929 shows Chinese House or as it was called, “Logement Boun Pa” immediately to the East of “Ecole Professionnelle”.
The entire block that encompasses the site of the house originally belonged to a son of King Ponhea Yat, the founder of Phnom Penh, and later to the “Second King” or “Samdech Preah Mohar Uparech”. Tan Bunpa (Boun Pa), a member of the Chinese Hokkien community involved in commerce, bought the land in 1903. This large house with port facilities, located in the once fashionable French Quarters, provided the Tan family with a considerable income.
Surprisingly, little is known about Tan Bunpa, except the fact that he was a merchant-businessman, in the lucrative food import-export and timber trade. His business was founded under the shop-name of “Kim Heng Seng” in 1901. Copies of invoices from 1903 indicate that he was supplying foodstuffs to the “Prison du Protectorat”. “Tan Boun Pa” is listed as number one in a 1904 listing of “Commercants asiatiques de la ville de Phnom Penh”, under the shop-name of “Kim Seng Heng”. Orders and invoices from government officials addressed to and from “Boun-Pa, Epicier, rue du Protectorat” (1906-1907) and “Maison Boun Pa”(1931), have been discovered at the national archives.
The most remarkable thing about the history of this house is that it has remained in its original state with few alterations or additions. Currently, the house consists of three distinct and separate buildings within a walled enclosure. It’s located almost directly opposite the entrance to the river freight port. The main house, which faces east, is two stories high and almost square-shaped. It has a French villa styled arched facade and the Tonle Sap River, to the west which flows past the opposite side of the Preah Sisowath Quay. The kitchen is a single-story outbuilding, located to the south of the main house. The third building is two-stories and attached to the main building by a small connecting corridor on the upper level on the north side of the building. This building functioned as a bathroom, storeroom and guards’ quarters. All three buildings have traditional Chinese tiled roofs.
The main house has its original patchwork tiled floors on the ground floor (although some of the patterns have been repaired) and the upper floor has hand-hewn hardwood. Several of the front porch tiles have been replaced due to damage. The tiles were imported from France as they are marked verso by intaglio molding, “Carrelages Larmande/J.Blachere & Ce/Villneuve de Berg/Ardeche France”.
Mr. Etienne Clement, former Head of UNESCO Office in Cambodia visited the house in the company of a former director, Mr. Richard Engelhardt. He recalled a huge, ornate, Chinese gilt bed in the center of the upstairs room. However, the bed had vanished when Mr. Darryl Collins arrived in early 1994.
In June 1997, a publication concerning development of the city and the classification of historic architecture mentioned it as a “Protected Building and Site – Private Building” as well as “Edifice et site remarquables”.
There is no first-hand information concerning the Khmer Rouge period; but the house must have been abandoned and left empty when everyone was escorted from the city in April 1975. In the 1980’s, several families of officials and management staff of the nearby Preah Khet Mealea Hospital occupied the house.
The house was purchased from these individuals by a preeminent Khmer/Australian family in the early 1990’s and from 1994 was occupied by Darryl Collins, a historian, till his departure to Siem Reap in 2007. The house was finally bought by Okhna, a reputable woman known for preserving historical buildings in Phnom Penh (such as the Pavilion hotel, the Asian Development Bank and others) and happens to be a granddaughter of Tan Bunpa. The house has now been returned to the family of its original owner.
In 2008, it was leased to a French couple that turned it into an art gallery downstairs and a bar upstairs that opened on November of the same year. It became known as “The Chinese House”. In 2012, the bar was moved to the ground floor and the first floor was turned into a restaurant.
In 2015, the outdoor terrace was opened; the ground floor bar was re-designed, and a brilliant young South African Chef took over the kitchen bringing-in a contemporary Asian fusion cuisine that, not only blends perfectly with the soul of the house, but also creates a modern-day reminiscence of its glorious past.
Welcome to Chinese House.
Historical Credits: Mr. Darryl Collins
The ground floor tapas and cocktail bar offer a trendy, yet relaxed atmosphere, which welcomes you to idle away the hours with like-minded people.
Step outside and enjoy the inviting ambiance of the gorgeous terrace which is open during the 6 month dry season from November till April.
Guests can experience a monthly changing modern Asian tapas menu, which is created with fresh and local produce and signature cocktails, such as the Explorer’s Punch which is a blend of premium Samai rum, local fruits and served with an accompanying spicy fried cricket. Cocktails are crafted by the in-house mixologist, Pierre Van Der Naam and his team.
The Asian tapas and cocktail bar regularly hosts art exhibitions and live-music events offering fresh experiences for its guest.
The first floor restaurant and private dining rooms offer a charm that entices you to enjoy the evening. The restaurant serves a contemporary Asian Fusion menu while upholding the charms of being an inviting space to enjoy the evening.
Chef Amy Baard and her culinary team offer a select choice of starters, main dishes and desserts. Once a month Chinese House holds a unique degustation menu which is crafted around Champagne and Champagne pairing.
Get the latest news on specials, events, exhibitions,...