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A rijsttafel (clockwise, from top left): eggplant in spicy chili sauce, prawn fritters, grilled dory fish wrapped in banana leaves, jasmine rice, beef rendang and pumpkin curry.
A rijsttafel (clockwise, from top left): eggplant in spicy chili sauce, prawn fritters, grilled dory fish wrapped in banana leaves, jasmine rice, beef rendang and pumpkin curry. Miranda Glasser

Indonesian restaurant serves tempting tasting plates

Rijsttafel, or ‘rice table’ in Dutch, is a kind of Indonesian tasting plate, showcasing the best cuisine the country has. Now Rumah Mas, Siem Reap’s first Indonesian restaurant, has opened on the River Road, serving a 10-course rijsttafel set menu that changes every week.

Business partners Charnjit Singh and Joey Lim, also co-owners of The Yellow Sub, opened Rumah Mas after craving spicy food. Both from Singapore, they moved here in 2012 and 2013 respectively to open Yellow Sub.

“I’d been travelling around a fair bit, and always looking out for something spicy to eat,” says Singh. “And other than Indian restaurants, there’s nothing else I could find. So Joey and I decided, why not open up an Indonesian restaurant.”

Having worked for 22 years in the hospitality industry, Singh hit upon the idea of a rijsttafel menu, a concept adapted by the Dutch.

Singh had sampled rijsttafel while in Amsterdam and felt that its varied nature might appeal to hungry Reapers.

“Historically the Dutch were colonial masters in Indonesia, and whenever they had dinner, they had all these different grilled meats, stews and vegetables to show off their wealth , all this food laid out on the table, hence the word rijsttafel,” he says.

Rumah Mas has a selection of ten tapas-sized dishes on a weekly changing menu, although some favourites such as beef rendang make a regular appearance. Slow-cooked with coconut and galangal for four and a half hours, the meat is melt-in-your-mouth soft and utterly delicious.

Other dishes include prawn fritters, pumpkin curry and a very more-ish nasi minyak, buttered rice sprinkled with roasted cashew nuts.

“With having the set menu we can control the quality, and we can also make sure the food will be fresh at all times,” says Singh. “We do bring back signature dishes like our beef rendang, and the coconut vegetable stew, sayur lodeh.”

The décor is classy yet comfortable. The glass lanterns from Bangkok and the wooden furniture lend an atmospheric feel, especially at the outside tables with views of the river.

Just as Yellow Sub boasts an array of Beatles memorabilia, Rumah Mas showcases Lim’s extensive spoon collection amassed over several years in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore,.

“We tried to make it as homely as possible hence the name Rumah Mas, rumah meaning home and mas being gold – golden home,” says Singh.

Lim adds, “Our concept is that we are offering a 5-star ambience, with 5-star quality food, but only at 3-star prices.”

Rumah Mas is open daily for dinner, from 6-10.30pm.

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