Located along the riverfront, just a short walk from the almost perpetual madness that is Siem Reaps Pub Street, Chanrey Tree http://chanreytree.com/index.html is almost certainly one of Siem Reaps premier Khmer restaurants. Like many of these other restaurants, Chanrey Tree is housed in an attractive wooden Khmer style house with dining rooms split over two floors, but in my opinion, the best seats are to be found in the pretty outdoor patio and lush tropical garden where I was lucky enough to have been seated on one of my recent visits.
The menu is surprisingly broad, offering around 20 main courses from traditional Fish Amok or Marinated Beef Skewers to more adventurous dishes like Grilled Frog stuffed with minced pork & vermicelli noodles with a vegetarian menu also being available upon request. On my first visit I tried “Samlor Machou” or Khmer Jungle Sour Soup which is notable for being one of Cambodia’s most popular dishes owing to the cheap and easy availability of its key ingredients such as tamarind, ginger & water greens along with your protein of choice, fish in my case. I have to admit to not being entirely won over by this dish at first. Whilst perfectly pleasant, I am more used to the big flavours of Thai food and whilst it’s not fair to compare Cambodian cuisine to that of Thailand, that’s exactly what I did. In fact it was only after trying several more versions of this same soup around Siem Reap that I was able to have a more local level of flavour comparison and appreciate the subtle, spiced, sour soup for what it actually was.
With this in mind, I decided to make a return visit, this time opting for the house special ‘Chanrey Fried Rice” stir-fried rice with Prahok, minced pork & river shrimp, served with caramelized pork ribs in a lime and black pepper sauce. Whilst the ribs weren’t as tender as I would have liked, I really, really enjoyed this! The Prahok, whilst definitely milder to suit Western tastes, added a real umami hit to the rice and the combination of sweet prawn and minced pork with the spicy black pepper and tangy lime was quite delicious. It may have been a “safe” choice but I know I will have plenty of time to return and try some of the menus more adventurous options so all in good time!
I tried dessert on both occasions, “Chek Ktish” – banana served with roasted yellow beans, coconut cream, sago and sesame seeds with vanilla ice cream and the Khmer “Delicacy” – sticky rice with taro, young coconut, pineapple jam and cashew nuts with coconut sorbet. Whilst neither dessert looks madly attractive they were actually both pretty tasty with a good balance of flavours but I imagine if you were dining as a couple or more you would be better off sharing a couple of appetisers and skipping dessert unless you were particularly hungry.
*Expect to pay around $20-$25pp for 2 courses with wine or beer
Reservations recommended – Tel: (855) 63 76 79 97
Address: Pokombo Ave, along Siem Reap river side,
just before Preah PhrumRath Pagoda – most tuk tuk drivers will know the restaurant by name though