Whilst Cambodian cuisine has a rich and varied history, many traditional recipes were sadly lost as a result of the horrific loss of life and destruction of books during the Khmer Rouge era.
With no one able to pass on family traditions and recipes, this traditional way of cooking was lost until recent years when chefs, such as Chef Katana at Sugar Palm and Chef Luu Meng at Malis, started their efforts to put Cambodia back on the culinary map by “reviving Cambodian cuisine from the past, adapting it to the present and preserving it for the future.”
Malis originally opened in Phnom Penh in 2004, since then Chef Luu Meng has risen to the title of Master Chef and helped to oversee the opening of the second Malis restaurant, this time in Siem Reap, late last year.
The restaurant is definitely Siem Reaps grandest, housed in a former colonial style house (since heavily renovated beyond recognition) on Pokambor avenue along the riverside and can seat some 300 people altogether across their ground floor restaurant and top floor private dining rooms which are already proving to be extremely popular with the Cambodian government and “Excellency’s” as well as high society Khmers and of course, tourists.
The vast menu is also very different to what you will find elsewhere in town with many dishes being completely new to me and so I have visited a couple of times, for breakfast (I will save this for a separate post) lunch and dinner in order to see a bit more of what the menu has to offer.
Appetisers I have tried include the “Takeo Sausages” ($9) Home-made pork sausages flavoured with Malis spices and fine coconut shavings with a sweet chilli sauce as well as “Scallops with Green Peppercorns” ($10) Pan-fried Sihanoukville scallops with Kampot green peppercorns and freshly crushed garlic which I thought were absolutely fantastic in spite of the fact that I am not usually a big scallop fan. My favourite appetisers however were probably the “Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab” ($11) sourced daily from the famous Kep crab market and served with a zingy lime and black peppercorn sauce and the “Cambodian Skewers” ($11) Bite-sized skewers of Kroeung and peppercorn marinated beef, chicken and pork stuffed with vegetables.
For the mains, whilst I was not blown away by the “Kampot Rock Crab Red Curry” ($22) Hand-picked Kampot crab cooked in crab broth with red chillies, red curry spices and coconut milk, the “Kampot Crab Fried Rice” ($14) with Kaffir Lime was delicious (and far better value). My friends were also very impressed with the “Roasted Beef Ribeye with Prahok” ($59 but plenty for 2) which had been marinated in Kroeung paste and was served with aubergines and potatoes.
Other main courses include the “Takeo Pork Chops” ($12) which had been marinated in a palm wine and Kampot pepper sauce, grilled and served with a fresh banana blossom salad which were melt in the mouth tender and absolutely delicious, as well as the “Hidden Chreav Duck” ($25) a traditional Siem Reap recipe of slow-roasted duck marinated in lemongrass and served with wonderfully fragrant red rice.
The food is undoubtedly excellent and as you may have gathered it is one of Siem Reaps pricier restaurants, expect to pay between anything $30-$60 per person for 2 -3 courses with house wine ($6 a glass or $20 a bottle)
Pokambor Avenue (Riverside next to Chanrey Tree Restaurant)
+855 (0) 15824888