Mag Guests: Ratana Phurik Callebaut and Frank Dufrenoy discover “Yi Sang the Garden”

In this edition of the Magazine Guests, we feature two distinguished personalities from the business sector, Ratana Phurik Callebaut and Frank Dufrenoy, who recently explored the verdant charm of “Yi Sang the Garden,” a restaurant renowned for its lavish and exquisite Cambodian and Asian cuisine. 

Ratana Phurik Callebaut and Frank Dufrenoy are known figures in the business world. Callebaut, known for her captivating smile and formidable skills, has made significant contributions in her roles at the France Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, DFDL, and EuroCham. She is revered as a successful businesswoman, an exemplary leader, and a timeless beauty. 

Dufrenoy, on the other hand, is known for his outgoing personality, his piercing blue eyes, and his prowess in marketing and media. He has made his mark in several local firms, including Graphic Root, LLC, KhmerDev, and Impact M&A, and now operates as an independent professional. 

The third “character” in this feature is the restaurant itself, Yi Sang the Garden Toul Kork, one of the prime establishments under the Thalias Group. Inaugurated in 2018, the restaurant is housed in a grand white-walled villa at 13 Rue 337. The villa features a glass-enclosed kitchen, where chefs prepare delectable roast ducks and other Cantonese-style dishes. 

Scattered around the vicinity are outdoor tables, nestled under a vast tree that offers much-needed shade during the humid monsoon afternoons. The restaurant also boasts a serene green space adorned with a majestic statue, accessible by a staircase crossing a pool. Inside the villa, the elegant decor is tastefully understated. The first floor, accessible by a broad circular staircase, houses a climate-controlled wine cellar, art pieces, a cozy waiting room, and several private lounges. 

The special menu showcased the restaurant’s signature starters, including DimSum dishes like Siu Mai, Xia Jiao, and Xiao Long Bao, served in steam-heated bamboo baskets. These dishes, prepared with the finesse characteristic of chefs trained by the brand’s creator, Mr. Luu Meng, were impeccable. 

Following the sumptuous starters was a fresh salmon salad, which was unanimously approved by our guests. The succulent fish, combined with a slightly sweet and tangy dressing and served with salad and ripe avocado, was a culinary delight. 

Next came the Cambodian style beef with an abundance of fried rice. The tender meat and the flavorful rice were a testament to the quality of Cambodian rice, which is considered among the world’s best. The only minor criticism was the size of the beef chunks, which could have been cut smaller. 

 

Among the main dishes, the braised pork, crispy and rich, was another crowd favorite. This dish, made from wild pig, is a classic in Yi Sang’s repertoire with an intriguing backstory. 

Several years ago, Luu Meng was invited by the Minister of Environment, His Excellency Say Sam Al, to join a delegation to the Kulen region. The group was tasked with meeting the locals and devising measures to protect the forests, water, and the region’s ancient temples. 

Upon arrival, the villagers had prepared a traditional roasted pig in honor of the delegates. Fascinated by the unique flavors, Meng decided to support the villagers by buying their Kulen pigs at double the market rate, making the venture profitable and sustainable for them. In return, the villagers pledged to protect the forests, crucial for the pigs’ sustenance. 

The “Kadaw Kulen Pig” has since become a renowned delicacy in Cambodia, considered the best source of local pork. Today, it’s a national favorite and a culinary treasure, thanks in part to the support of Luu Meng and the Thalias Group.  

The meal concluded with a Cambodian-style fish soup, which our guests praised for its exceptional taste and quality. 

 

Aside from a minor critique, this luncheon allowed our guests to experience the unique blend of Khmer and Chinese cuisine in the capital. The salmon salad, braised pork, and fish soup were standout dishes. The service, as expected from the Thalias group, was efficient, attentive, and responsive. Yi Sang the Garden Toul Kork comes highly recommended for those seeking a memorable dining experience of local and Asian gastronomy in a delightful setting, served with utmost care and professionalism. 

 For more insights about this establishment, refer to the review by expert Pascal Médeville.