Like Thailand’s tom yam soup and Indian jalfrezi, Cambodia’s ya horn is one of those dishes where the brilliance depends on spice.
Chef Long Phalla is well-known for her sweet and fiery rendering of the dish at the small restaurant she runs close to Russian Market.
Tbal Khmer is a popular spot with young Cambodians who come for the bubbling orange hot pot – Phalla serves up a soup already packed with garlic, galangal root and chilli and customers then throw in vegetables and meat including seafood, beef and pork.
The 29-year-old chef likes to put her own touch on the dish, adding extra chilli for a fiery taste, but the most important ingredient is the fragrant Cambodian herbs mao orm, gee ana.
On a break from the kitchen at Tbal Khmer, Phalla said she had been serving the crowd-pleasing dish for 10 years. “The first time I was served ya horn was in my house with the family,” she said, adding that the recipe was passed to her by her uncle.
A small pot serving two to three people that includes vegetables costs $1.75 while a bigger portion for four to five people with beef, seafood, pork, meatballs and egg will set you back $4.
“It’s an easy dish to cook to suit the customer’s needs,” said Phalla.
Tbal Khmer is open all day from 11am to 9pm and serves food for lunch and dinner. The restaurant will update its menu and offer a 30 per cent discount for the new dishes from September 5 to 8.
#40B&C Street 432, behind Tuol Tompong pagoda.