Jason Allen 18/06/24


Mamapen is London’s only Cambodian restaurant – and it’s a pop up at that.

And if, when hearing that, you thought ‘Really?? That feels like it can’t possibly be true.’, then you’re not alone. In a city with the sheer depth of culinary choice that the capital has (we have Eritrean eateries! Javanese joints! Qatari cafes!), it definitely seems weird. Despite that, it is nevertheless the only place in the city that you can get authentic Cambodian food outside of a recipe book.

So it’s a very good thing indeed that Mamapen exists, because otherwise we’d be missing some punchily flavourful, delightfully unfamiliar, and remarkably good food.

You’ll find it in The Sun & 13 Cantons, where it’s just pitched up for a (hopefully) long term residency. If you’ve never been to The Sun, it’s a rather fetching old fashioned Soho pub that’s developed quite a reputation for first-rate food residencies – Darjeeling Expresss started out here, as did Sambal Shiok. And now it’s Mamapen’s turn. The whole operation is run by Cambodian-born, London-based Kaneda Pen. He’s climbed the kitchen ladder the old fashioned way, starting from the bottom and going rung-by-rung up through places like Aqua Kyoto before landing at the head chef position at Flank and then From The Ashes.


Nic Crilly-Hargrave

Head down on any given day (so long as it’s not Sunday or Monday) and you’ll find the Sun likely buzzing with activity, with people spilling out into the road and a packed bar inside – it’s just a risk when you’re one of the most popular pubs in Soho during the summer. Head deeper into the place, and make your way to their seating area with its handsome leather booths – that’s where Kaneda plies his wonderful trade.

The concise menu starts, as you probably will too, with nibbles. We’re talking BBQ pork neck skewers; pan-fried tofu knots with crispy shallots; prawn crackers with sour soup seasoning, etc. Then things get experimental with a teensy bit of fusion, including some panko pork toast with drunken master XO sauce, and braised beef ‘tattie mince noodles’ inspired by Kaneda’s Scottish girlfriend. But it’s on the main course where you’ll find the real gems: the ravishing Khmer BBQ chicken; the succulent caramelised braised pork belly; and the sour pineapple curry, which has a unique and highly moreish flavour.

You probably won’t be astonished to hear that there’s quite a decent selection of booze to go with all of this, given that it’s in a pub – a pub which actually is named in honour of the city’s Swiss watch-maker community…

…it’s probably the only one in London, in fact.


NOTE: Mamapen is at the Sun & 13 Cantons right now, Tuesday to Saturday 12pm-9pm, hopefully for the next 12 months. You can make a booking and find out more at the website right here.

The Sun and 13 Cantons | 21 Great Pulteney Street, Soho, W1F 9NG

Want to check out more of the local drinking scene? Here’s our pick of the best pubs in Soho


21 Great Pulteney Street, Soho, Central London, W1F 9NG

8.5 | Great