We have planned our whole trip around this meal, we need to eat in this restaurant I heard so much about! While doing research at the end of May, I discovered the restaurant would be closed after 25 June for a month long vacation, I decided to move our holiday 2 weeks forward. Given the circumstances, I was expecting a lot on Cuisine Wat Damnak.
Strangely, all the 3 dinners we had in Siem reap were all located in the same area Wat Damnak, on the right bank of the river, opposite to the central market and the pub street on the left bank, I guess it must be the hot area of gastronomy, cheaper in rent. There were a lot of construction going on, hotels, very dusty and part of the street had no street lights. Although it was just 10 minutes walk to our hotel.
I reserved a table with fan, we were seated in a fan room on the second floor in an elegant wooden house, with a view in the garden. The courtyard on the ground floor was beautiful.
We ordered both menus (a 5 courses and a 6 courses) in order to taste everything.
Lemongrass marinated seafood salad with pomelo, resurrection lily and candied pomelo skin dressing
Duck confit fried rice salad
Steamed mean with minced pork and egg, herbs, flowers and local crudités
Wild rice were provided in most courses to accompany the dishes.
Mekong langoustine pancake in nom pao style, tomalley emulsion, ripe an green papaya salad
Pan fried Tonle Sap croacker fish with fresh bamboo shoots, lemon basil, purslane, amaranth and coconut broth
Barbecued pork shank sour soup with wild mushrooms, holy basil, water celery and pounded pea eggplant
Crispy beef tongue with shiny cresson, fermented tomato paste and home made oyster sauce - my favourite dish of the night.
Caramelixed palm sugar and green pepper braised Sanday fish, winter melon, bilimbi and deep fried garlic
Chocolate pot de crème and steamed cake, peanut mousse and nougatine
Chilled fruits soup with Mondolkiri tea, lemon basil sorbet and meringue
Wild fruits to finish off the meal. The chef came to us to explain each fruit. It seems to be a rituel in Siem Reap, that chef likes to come to greet the guests at the end of the meal. We never had this treatment in other parts of Cambodia.
My impression of the meal: I have dined in David Thompson’s restaurant Nahm in Bangkok, I thought it would be the same concept, that a western chef cooking local cuisine with prime products. I was a bit confused when I felt it was more French than Khmer cuisine, I know the structure of tasting menu, carte blanche and how it works back in Paris, so I got less surprise out of meal. The cooking of chef Joannes Riviere was fusion, French technique with local ingredients, I must say the cooking was well done, flavours were well balanced and delicious, but I didn’t feel I was eating Cambodian cooking. At times, I was feeling the dishes were overly complex, maybe mentally I hadn’t prepare for this, it was an interesting experience, I was out of sync the whole meal.
Service was professional. We paid $69.50 USD for the 2 menus, a bottle of water, 1 cocktail and 1 non alcohol drink.
Cuisine Wat Damnak
Between Psa Dey Hoy market and Angkor High School
(next to Chocolate Street and Haven Training School)
Wat Damnak village,
+855 (0)77 347 762
email@example.com (reservation is a must, better book weeks before)