The food scene in Siem Reap is developing as fast as the locale and it's nice to see gorgeous restaurants popping up with stellar offerings to match.
During my short trip to Siem Reap earlier this November, I had the privilege of trying some delicious dishes at Chanrey Tree. The restaurant has a certain traditional charm, with gorgeous portrait paintings, wooden furniture and beautiful folded lotus flowers situated around the bungalow.
Diners can choose to sit outside in the beautiful garden, or upstairs in an air-conditioned room.
My party opted to sit in the air-conditioned room for fear of being bitten by mozzies. (You have to request for a table in the air conditioned room while making your reservation, as tables are limited.)
The whole restaurant gives off a romantic vibe, which can be attributed to warm lighting and classical Cambodian music. It was definitely a cosy restaurant to sit and immerse in good food and delightful conversation.
My meal at Chanrey Tree was the first upon touching down at Siem Reap. It was decided that we would patronise the restaurant, at the kind recommendation of the hotel we were staying at (Central Suite Residence). We didn't know what to order, so at the suggestion of our waiter we ordered the following dishes.
We started the meal with the 'Bok Svay' Chicken Salad ($6.70), which was one of the best Cambodian salads I've had during my trip.
The Khmer chicken was marinated in honey, rice brandy and jackfruit, then pounded together and mixed with green mango. It is served with a banana heart, basil and herb salad.
All the flavours complimented one another and was very well-balanced. I especially liked the addition of jackfruit, which I haven't had in a salad before.
I'm not sure how we were supposed to eat the leaves, but the fruit and chicken mix tasted really good when it was wrapped in the leaf (which wasn't too bitter), and it definitely made the dish a bit fresher.
The Tonle Sap Steamed Fish ($10.70) was one of the best Asian-style fish dishes I've ever had! Not surprising, considering we were so close to the famed lake and we were bound to get the freshest catch.
I absolutely loved the soft flesh of the bar fish fillet combined with the textures of cashew nuts, shallot and spring onion stem, the fragrant basil and the tangy lime dressing.
This fish dish was the stand-out of the night! It's a definite must-try.
Another stand-out dish was the Prahok Ktish ($8.70), which was the most unique dish of the night.
It is a Khmer delicacy that combines fermented fish, pork and thinly sliced river fish braised in coconut cream with baby eggplant, and served with blanched vegetables.
The dish might sound a bit odd, with the combination of fermented fish and pork, but the ingredients created a certain complexity to the dish. The flavours really does get better and better with each bite!
I highly recommend that everyone give the Prahok Ktish a try, and Chanrey Tree's version was my favourite!
I have never tried frog meat before, so I wasn't sure if I would like Chanrey Tree's Grilled Stuffed Frog ($8.40). But the moment I took that first bite, I automatically reached for seconds.
The frog is stuffed with minced pork, Khmer spices and vermicelli noodles, and served with peanut and tomato relish. It was such a tasty combination, I couldn't resist having more!
The Green Seafood Curry ($10.50) was probably the most underwhelming of all the savoury dishes. Not because it was bad, but because it didn't live up to Thailand's rendition of the green curry. It just wasn't spicy or flavoursome enough.
But dish was still a pleasant one, with the prawns and squid cooked perfectly. It was also very generous with the vegetables: eggplant, long beans, sweet potatoes and pineapple.
It was a hearty dish, but probably not something I'd order again.
The desserts at Chanrey Tree paled in comparison to its mains. We tried the Khmer Delicacy ($4.70) that featured sticky rice, taro, young coconut slices, pineapple jam and cashew nuts served with coconut sorbet.
The pineapple jam was delicious, and I also liked the cashew nuts and coconut sorbet. But I wasn't a fan of the sticky rice and taro.
The Chek-Ktish ($4.70) was another unusual dessert, that didn't quite tickle my fancy. It featured banana, roasted yellow beans, coconut cream, sago seeds and white sesame seeds served with vanilla ice cream.
The banana wasn't particularly sweet and in fact, was very bland. I also didn't like the roasted yellow beans.
Overall though, I loved the food at Chanrey Tree! The quality was excellent, everything tasted great, and there was an impressive selection of Khmer dishes. The prices were all very reasonable as well.
The desserts were simply a let-down, so I recommend that you give it a miss.
Note: All prices are in US dollars
Chanrey Tree Restaurant
Address: Pokambor Ave, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Phone: +855 17 799 587
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 11am-2pm, 6pm-10.30pm