Siem Reap & Gastronomy : About fusion cuisine with Malis

Rediscovery of the restaurant Malis Siem Reap, one of the best addresses of Cambodian cuisine in the kingdom

History
More than six years ago, though it still feels like yesterday, Malis Siem Reap formally opened its doors. It took five years of searching for the perfect location before the first shovel could hit the ground to create the space and place for a new bastion of luxury on the west river bank in Temple Town.

Large capacity
On this prime site, just a little north of Old Market, a new building with a total area of two thousand square meters was constructed with space for up to 300 people to be comfortably catered to at any moment in time.

View of the atrium

Luxury
The design of the place is rooted in luxury and elegance, with a strong Angkorian twist. Visitors will see elements of the temples all around them.

The restaurant’s menu is quite similar to that of Malis in Phnom Penh, although the number of dishes is a bit smaller. This choice is explained by the fact that some ingredients available in the capital are unavailable locally, at least at the level of quality required by Chef Luu Meng.

Malis cuisine is more a “fusion” cuisine than a gastronomy within the strict limits of traditional Cambodian cuisine. Malis’ motto is “Living Cambodian Cuisine”. This translates into a selection of dishes inspired by Cambodian culinary tradition in its broadest sense, but interpreted in a modern way.

This state of mind makes the most intransigent say that the Malis cuisine is more a “fusion” cuisine than a gastronomy within the strict limits of traditional Cambodian cuisine.

Tradition
However, it is indeed within Khmer traditions that the dishes proposed here draw their source. To be convinced of this, you just have to go through the menu: Takeo sausages, raw beef salad (phlea sach ko), bamboo shoot and smoked fish soup, pork salad with banana flowers, sour forest soup (m’chou prei), fish amok or beef saraman are undeniably Cambodian compositions.

Fish amok

Quality and variety
Among the many dishes offered, some deserve special attention: the fried soft shell crab, served with a pepper dipping sauce, will delight seafood lovers; the slow-cooked pork shank, a Chinese-inspired dish, accompanied by its bamboo shoots, is distinguished by its tenderness; the generous portion of rice sautéed with Kampot crab will be for those who have exhausted their strength climbing the temples of the archaeological park a consolation that is both tasty and invigorating.

A true milestone in the Cambodian gastronomic tradition
The scallops with green pepper are also worth a closer look: generously served in a half shell, the muscles of the shell are cooked to perfection, their texture is perfect and their flavors are magnified by the fresh pepper. The fragrant soup (sâm-lâ prâ-hae) with smoked fish is of uncommon finesse, and is a milestone in the Cambodian gastronomic tradition.

The very famous fish amok (or better yet, fish head amok) is a vibrant tribute to the “Khmer national dish”. And among the vegetables, we will pay special attention to the sautéed loofah.

Sauteed loofah

Efficient service
The service is efficient and considerate. The set up in the kitchen is obviously perfect, because the wait is very short. The only complaint is that the music played at the reception is different from the one played in the dining room, so if your table is near the entrance door of the dining room, every time the door opens, it is an unpleasant cacophony. Also note that the prices are commensurate with the quality of the food.

Ratings (out of 5):
Atmosphere: 4
Service: 4
Quality of the products: 4,5
Presentation of the dishes : 4,5
Quality/price ratio : 4,5
Overall score : 4,3

Text and photos by Pascal Médeville

Adapted from an article in Cambodge Mag

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