“Kampot peppers are a staple in all parts of Cambodia,” says Alida Ouy, one of the owners of Kampot, a new restaurant on the North Shore suburb of Boisbriand. “My mom goes back every year, and when she returns, those peppers she brings back season all our food.”
The Kampot peppers — and Ouy’s mother’s recipes — are at the heart of the Southeast Asian choices at this new 60-seater (plus terrasse) in the Faubourg Boisbriand.
Kampot is the offspring of Mama Ouy, the pandemic pop-up named after Alida’s mom, Heany. Once that business wound down in February 2021, Alida, two sisters, and her brother made plans to quit their day jobs, find a location, and put together a food and drinks menu that reflected their energy and commitment to continuity, community, and Cambodian food.
Kampot’s menu, realized by chef Sean Basuel and assisted by brother Heng Te, reflects what the Ouy family ate at home: food inspired by the entire region. (To prepare for the opening, Basuel moved into the family home to train with Mama Ouy, who still checks on him in the kitchen.)
“Kroeung is a Cambodian word for the flavour pastes that form the base of most of our foods, whether a marinade, soup, stew, or curry,” Alida explains. “Galangal, lemongrass, tamarind, onions and garlic and other ingredients, like curry seasonings, will be in that paste, depending on the dish.” Cambodian food also features extensive use of fermented foods like shrimp paste and mudfish paste, providing a pungent baseline to the flavours.
Pad thai and panang curry are on offer, alongside Cambodian dishes like amok (a classic fish curry), papaya salad, beef brochettes and lok lak steak, all infused with Southeast Asian aromatics like lemongrass, lime leaf, mint, and those Kampot peppers.
“The flavours for the food and drinks are strong and bold, just like our style,” says Alida, referencing the restaurant’s instagram branding and the wall mural painted by her sister and business partner Anika. It features the Thai rice goddess Phosop, a tiger (for the Year of the Tiger), and the Mekong river, which connects the countries of the region.
Kampot’s inventive cocktails all reference the family’s roots: the Sok Sa Bai (sake with coconut, calpico and Malibu) literally means “happy country,” but informally translates to “how are you?”; and Fansipan Dan (gin, aperol, pandan, and ginger bitters) is named after a mountain in Vietnam. It’s all part of creating a fun bar experience as well as a place to eat great Southeast Asian food, Alida says.
“When I was a kid, my mother had a sushi stall, because that was the only kind of Asian food people were familiar with at the time,” Alida remarks. “Now, decades later, my siblings and I have a restaurant and bar with items that we dare to put on a menu, in a space with beautiful decorations. And we want to say: Yeah, we’re here.”
Kampot is open Tuesday to Sunday at 3375 Avenue des Grandes Tourelles, Boisbriand.