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Phnom Penh & Gastronomy: Class and Khmer fusion at Raffles' Le Royal restaurant

A few days ago, Le Royal restaurant - at the Raffles in Phnom Penh - unveiled its new "Khmer Modern" menu to the local press and influencers. A little gem of fusion culinary creation by talented sous-chef Van Sarean, with the wise and thoughtful participation of in-house chef Martin Becquart.

 Chef Martin Becquart
Chef Martin Becquart

"Restaurant Le Royal, the famous Khmer dining venue at the almost century-old Raffles Le Royal hotel in the heart of the Cambodian capital, has just reopened after an inspired renovation," announces Michelle Htway, in charge of marketing and communications for the establishment.

" It's like being in a movie, with all that class, splendid cutlery and Barry Lyndon-style natural lighting," murmurs one of the guests invited to this first tasting.

Indeed, the reopening coincides with the launch of the "Modern Khmer" menu, an original assortment of dishes that "aims to highlight authentic royal Khmer cuisine and modern Khmer gastronomy".

Indeed, the elegant, sophisticated interior, adorned with magnificent original works of art and a row of arched windows overlooking a courtyard abundant in greenery and carefully subdued lighting, is the perfect setting for this inspired version of royal cuisine.

A very cinematic atmosphere for the launch of this men
A very cinematic atmosphere for the launch of this men

Chef Van Sarean quickly sets the mood with a starter version of "Plear trey salmon neung teok trey bok", a salmon salad with lemongrass, chili sauce, lemon juice and herbs. A resolutely fresh appetizer whose marine and slightly spicy flavors are wonderfully harmonious.

Salmon salad with lemongrass, chili sauce, lemon juice and fresh herbs
Salmon salad with lemongrass, chili sauce, lemon juice and fresh herbs

Next comes a duck soup with fresh curry, tangy leafy greens and organic vegetables. This time, it's a version of "Somlor machou kreoung tea neung sleuk thneng". Tender poultry, a perfect blend of flavors and vegetables. In the end, the "fusion" recipe, not very far from the original meal, works perfectly.

Next, we discover a great classic, "Somlor machou kreoung tea neung sleuk thneng", revisited by the chefs, who propose a Takéo crayfish with grilled eggplant, minced chicken, spicy basil, vegetables and a light green mustard.

Revisited version of Somlor machou kreoung tea neung sleuk thneng
Revisited version of Somlor machou kreoung tea neung sleuk thneng

Once again, the recipe works perfectly, but the most interesting dish will be the last: Steamed pork belly with quail eggs, cinnamon, palm sugar and vegetable fried rice, a version inspired by the dish "Khor sach chrouk bey choin neungporng krouch".

Even if appetites are almost satiated after the first few courses with generous portions, we can't help but enjoy this perfectly successful recipe. The balance of flavors is quite remarkable, and this resolutely succulent dish will mark the climax of this fine tasting experience.

Pork belly with quail eggs, cinnamon, palm sugar, fresh Kampot pepper, fried rice and vegetables
Pork belly with quail eggs, cinnamon, palm sugar, fresh Kampot pepper, fried rice and vegetables

But there's still the dessert, just as successful: a crème brûlée with pear and caramel inspired by Num ple sari scorprail. A fine conclusion to this royal dinner in every meaning of the word.

To conclude this tasting experience, which delighted all the guests, Chef Martin Becquart reminded us that Le Royal restaurant was able to offer this type of unique gastronomic experience thanks to the royal Khmer recipes handed down to the Raffles Le Royal hotel by decree of the royal palace.

"Which makes it authentic, distinctive and truly memorable," he will say.

 
 
A royal dessert as inspired as the entire menu
A royal dessert as inspired as the entire menu
 

Considered one of Cambodia's finest restaurants, Le Royal is open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays) for dinner only from 6.30pm. On this occasion, a solo pianist plays Cambodian classics from the Golden Age.

The Raffles Hotel Le Royal opened its doors in 1929. The hotel has 175 rooms and suites, which have been completely renovated as part of a year-long restoration project in 2019.

For reservations or dining inquiries at Raffles Hotel Le Royal, please contact 023 981 888 or email dining.leroyal@raffles.com.

 

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