I can’t recall how we learned about this spot, some blog or website, they all become a blur after awhile. No matter, we are glad that we did. The chef/owner trained and apprenticed in Switzerland, and came back to Cambodia to bring his knowledge home. The food was without a doubt the best we’ve had in Asia, but also one of the best meals I’ve ever had. One dish brought tears to my eyes, but it could also be that I was inordinately happy to be enjoying delicious Provençal rose with my meal. The French colonial influence is still strong with this country. Also, there are scads of European tourists… When we came for late lunch on the 21st, we opted for the tasting menu. Yes, there are typos on the menu, that’s par for the course here, roll with it.
And yes, that’s $20 each for 5 courses.
First up- an amuse! Larger than most, about 3 bites, it’s Tonle Sap lake fish (snakehead, probably), done amok-style: braised with curry and coconut, then served chilled with herbs and fresh grapefruit pulp. What a delicious start. Also, a nice tranquil setting put us in a relaxed mood for a luxurious meal. If you look closely in there you can see me at the table wearing the white linen shirt I almost didn’t pack, and have worn almost constantly…
First course: tuna tartare, with diced mango and a grapefruit jelly. Okay, this chef loves his grapefruit touches, but they really work. That jelly had a little bitter, and almost no sweet. On another menu it is described as grapefruit-paprika jelly. It was perfect with the tartare, which tasted of mirin and yuzu, and a small hint of wasabi. This was the best tuna tartare I’ve ever had, hands down. The last memorable incarnation of this dish was that French restaurant that was the first to open in the renovated building at Walnut and Broadway in Boulder… What was the name of that? That was a good tartare, this was a beauty, and perfect with the rose. This is where I squeaked out a tear of happiness.
Next up was the seared fish filet on top of a green mango salad- very good. This dish is a little less fishy tasting than the green papaya salads we had in Thailand, and very tasty. The fish is white and flaky, and good contrast to the crunchy salad.
The crab amok was very good, but not terribly photogenic- looks like puréed pea soup, so I’ll skip that pic. Same with the pork and eggplant- a dish we’ve seen on a few menus, but not a pretty dish. What was pretty and delicious was the dessert.
This whole dessert was a nice combination of the fresh banana, coconut ice cream, mango sauce, and was a perfect end to a great meal. The dark bit there is wood apple mousse, nutty and a little sweet. Before we asked what it was, I would have guessed a pear and vanilla bean thing.
We went back for Christmas dinner, and went a la carte: we ordered more than the pics below, I’m just posting the highlights here.
Tuna tartare and salmon tartare- you know, for research and comparison. Both delicious, but the tuna was the winner.
We’ve been to the park (Angkors Thom, Wat and associated ruins and temples), and I’m itching to put this post to bed and wax about that experience, although pics and words can hardly grasp the scale and grandeur. We had a down day today, both of us feeling a bit under the weather, so we listened to our bodies and slept, read, watched movies and just rested. We’ve been here for 6 days now, and have 9 more to explore Siem Reap (aka Temple Town) and the surrounding area.