During my trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia, I was determined to try a variety of Khmer dishes, which is a cuisine that is relatively uncommon in Malaysia.
I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by all the delicious food the country had to offer.
At another recommendation by my hotel (Central Suite Residence), we patronised Malis Restaurant for dinner during our second night in Siem Reap.
Malis Restaurant is located next door to Chanrey Tree Restaurant (another great restaurant), and comparing the two restaurants, Malis is located in a significantly bigger and grander building.
Upon entering the magnificent building, we were slightly concerned about whether our meal will leave a big dent in our wallet. But thankfully, the prices weren't too expensive!
The menu was expansive and everything look good, so we actually ended up dining here twice!
The Green Mango and Smoked Fish ($8) ended up becoming another one of my favourite Cambodian salad dishes.
I absolutely love green mango in my salads, I love the slight crunch and tanginess of the fruit. So having a salad that features green mango as the hero of the dish, and tossing it with local smoked and dried fish, it was a winning dish!
The waiter told us that the Royal Mak Mee ($9) salad is one that used to be served in the royal palace, and the chef that served up the dish now works at Malis. I loved how the waiter brought out all the ingredients and mixed the salad in front of us.
The salad consists of crispy fried noodles topped with pan-fried sliced pork, marinated in Kroeung (Cambodian spice paste) and fragrant lemongrass and slow cooked in coconut milk. It was tasty dish, but I personally preferred the Green Mango and Smoked Fish salad.
I was told by my tour guide that soup is a very important part of a meal in Cambodia. So I just had to try one soup dish while I was visiting the country.
We ordered the Moringa Soup ($8). According to the waiter, the Moringa leaf is very nutritious and it is cooked with pumpkin to create a consomme that is famous for its medicinal properties.
It was a delicate and tasty soup, something I can drink every day!
The Fish Amok ($8) was one of the highlights of the meal for me. Not only is it Cambodia's best-known dish, it was probably also one of the tastiest as well.
It is a traditional dish made with goby fish fillets marinated in a lemongrass curry paste and steamed in a banana leaf basket. I absolutely loved the presentation, and the flavour of the marinate is out of this world!
Malis' Fish Amok was by far the best version we tried during our trip. It is a must-have!
When our Baked Goby Fish with Young Mango Dip ($17) was served to us, everyone on the table said 'wow'. We weren't expecting such a big fish, and boy did it look yummy!
The Baked Goby Fish is one of Malis' best selling dish, and we enjoyed it thoroughly.
But mind you, we had to put in considerable more effort into eating the dish in comparison to the boneless Fish Amok! You have to be careful with brushing away all the salt crust and picking the bones out of the fish (but don't worry, there aren't too many bones).
The Goby river fish marinated with lemongrass and garlic, baked in a crust of salt and complemented with a green mango chilli dip. The fish was cooked perfectly, and the marination was lovely.
The Khor Pork Knuckle with Bamboo Shoots ($20) was another favourite of ours. The whole group loves pork knuckle, so obviously this dish stood out in the menu.
We were (pleasantly) surprised at the sheer size of the dish, that we resolutely gobbled up despite feeling a bit full. But it was totally worth it!
The fresh bamboo shoots were thinly sliced and provided a delicious crunch. I also loved what seemed to be green pepper, which added a nice burst of peppery flavouring to the dish.
The sauce was rich and full of flavour after the pork was cooked for two hours in a dark soya sauce, making the sauce somewhat caramelised. It was heavenly!
I tried the Prahok Ktis ($9) at Malis because I loved the same dish at Chanrey Tree. But unfortunately, Malis' version did not top Chanrey Tree. But I still enjoyed the tasty Cambodian dish.
The Hidden Chreav Duck ($25) uses a traditional Siem Reap recipe of slow-roasting a duck marinated in lemongrass. The dish was served with fragrant red rice, which was absolutely delicious and went perfectly with the succulent duck.
It was a tasty dish, but for $25, we thought the price was a bit steep considering the relatively small portion (it was considered small when it was shared among four diners).
Malis had a number of interesting and affordable desserts that we were excited to try. Our favourite of the three we had chosen was the Kampot Pepper Brulee ($3.50).
The Brulee was one of the best I've had. I loved the caramalised sugar on top, with the peppery aftertaste. I seriously love the green pepper (I believe) as well, that gave the dessert a nice pop.
The accompanying Borbor Ambok in coconut milk was not as impressive as the Brulee. But I enjoyed the fragrant jasmine infused ice cream.
The Malis Mousse ($3.50) was also enjoyable. The smooth jasmine flower infused mousse with hints of Cambodian honey and ginger was delicious. It is circled with fresh seasonal fruits and served with a crunchy rice 'Kamao Thort' and coconut ice cream, which was delicious.
The Durian Delight ($3.50) was a slight disappointment, probably because we all think that our Malaysian durian tastes so much better!
The durian ice cream tasted a bit weird, it didn't have that distinct potent and creamy flavour I was expecting. I wasn't impressed.
I am not a fan of corny desserts, so I wasn't really into the Num Ko corn. And the Taro style dumplings cooked in coconut milk and ginger sauce wasn't fantastic either.
Overall, I really enjoyed dining at Malis. It was slightly more pricey than Chanrey Tree, but there were certain dishes that really stood out.
I would recommend that you give both Malis and Chanrey Tree a try whenever you're in Siem Reap, they are just next door to one another after all!
Address: Pokambor Ave, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Phone: +855 16 804 888
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 6.30am to 10am, 11am to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm