The roller door, mismatched furniture and communal tables remain – along with the walk-in liquor fridge – but that’s where the similarities between Kingdom of Rice and its predecessor, American-style Italian eatery, Dirty Italian Disco, end.

Merivale’s second six-month pop-up restaurant inside the former drive-in bottle shop at Mascot’s Tennyson Hotel opens this Friday. It will serve Cambodian-style street food courtesy of the team from inner-east restaurant ACME, led by partners Mitch Orr and Cam Fairbairn, and head chef Lillia McCabe and front-of-house manager Sophia Thach.

The latter is of Khmer descent and created the menu after a recent return to her roots in Phnom Penh.

Never miss a Sydney moment. Make sure you're subscribed to our newsletter today.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

“We have always been fascinated by Southeast Asia and Sophia has cooked so many incredible dishes over the years that really introduced us to Khmer cuisine,” Orr said in a statement. “The ingredients used ignite all the senses, not just taste.”

The savoury menu is split into five sections: snacks, skewers, grill, wok, noodles and rice. All the dishes are designed to be shared, from the selection of skewers, which includes phsaet ung (shiitake mushroom), sach chrouk ung (caramelised pork) and sach gor ung (lemongrass beef); to the hot-off-the-wok classics such as bort ling (corn, dried shrimps and scallions), cha dtrop (chicken, smoked eggplant and coriander) and cha le'a samot tdek meric (pippies, lime and kampot pepper); seasoned meats straight from the grill; and accompanying rice and noodle dishes.

For dessert there’s Southeast Asian fruits in the form of jek ung (grilled banana, sticky rice and caramel), noum dorng karem (pandan coconut waffle and coconut sorbet) and bobor lapoav (roasted pumpkin, tapioca and coconut milk).

Plonk yourself down on a stackable plastic market stool, grab a pair of chopsticks and dig into your meal, served on a melamine plate. Wash it down with an Asian beer or natural wine out of the fridge, while you take in the clash of the floral tablecloths against the lime-washed soft-pink walls lined with jars of house-made pickles.

“Phnom Penh is a real sensory overload,” Orr said. “There’s laughter and noise of people everywhere, the smell of food cooked over charcoal, colours of fresh tropical fruits and an amazing sense of community. That is really what we have wanted to capture at Kingdom of Rice.”

Kingdom of Rice opens Friday October 12 at the Tennyson Hotel, 952 Botany Road, Mascot.

merivale.com/kingdom-of-rice