Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Siem Reap bistro’s home-style cuisine shines



Siem Reap bistro’s home-style cuisine shines

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Fermented fish with vegetables. Hong Menea

Siem Reap bistro’s home-style cuisine shines

Pounded fresh shrimp, fish head sour soup, grilled fish paste, pomelo salad, neem leaf salad, frog amok, Siem Reap teuk kroeung and giant taro sour soup are very common in most households in Cambodia.

This is why Angkea Dei Restaurant was established earlier this year. It serves traditional food for those who wish to enjoy together as families, friends and co-workers.

Long Bunhor, who owns Angkea Dei Restaurant, tells The Post that “we focus on daily food that Cambodian people have at home. The approximate 20,000 riel [$5] per person is not expensive since the average dish costs only 18,000 riel”.

The menu is not completed as it can be pretty exhaustive and most homemakers know how to prepare them. However, there are some local foods that many Cambodians have not seen or tasted.

“Fish head stuffed with ingredients is a rare dish that many restaurants do not list on their menu. Its ingredients are fish head, minced pork, glass noodle, soybean and fish belly.

“Roasted pest fish on chopping board is uncommon since pest fish, pork, Java Cola, thyme are minced and roasted on a chopping board. Pickle seedy banana with beef sausage and dried beef is rarely seen,” says Bunhor.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Head chef and owner Long Bunhor. Hong Menea

Grilled fish paste (prahok) on chopping board was inspired by how rural people always do it. They minced fermented fish paste on a chopping board, and Bunhor had it mixed with other ingredients to arrive at a better taste that is slightly different from the traditional dish.

“People grilled fish paste wrapped in banana leaves which they take to the rice field. Then they eat on a farm dyke together,” he says.

Angkea dei/, or Sesbania grandiflora, commonly known as a vegetable hummingbird, is a plant that Bunhor loved eating when he was young and what his mother cooked as a soup to cure his flu.

“When I was 14, I had a cold. My mother made soup with angkea dei for me, saying it could cure me. Of course, it relieved the symptoms. I believe that angkea dei provides more health benefits than our regular daily food,” says Bunhor.

At the restaurant, angkea dei trees and other fresh vegetable plants not only provide ample shade for parking but also as supplies for the main kitchen.

The ground floor of the restaurant, which can accommodate up to 50 people, is decorated with oxcart wheels hanging down from the ceiling. There are three VIP rooms for family dining and lunch meetings.

The first floor can serve up to 300 people, which suits the convenience of customers who wish to hold an event and enjoy services inspired by those provided in luxury hotels.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Angkea Dei Restaurant was established to serve up traditional home-style foods and soups. Photo supplied Hong Menea

Rida Khong, his wife, and daughter sat for lunch at the restaurant during a weekend retreat. They chose to have their usual daily food outdoors after exploring the Bakheng Temple.

“We ordered mixed vegetable soup and roasted catfish with fresh watermelon as our dessert. The food here is good. Many dishes are the same as daily food in every Cambodian household,” says Khong.

“They are not different from food in rural areas, but just look more attractive with a garnish. Angkea Dei provides a good environment and delicious food prepared in hygienic conditions,” he says.

Bunhor says despite the restaurant’s classy look that matches that of a luxury hotel, its food is served at reasonable prices that suit even average-income families.

Mixed vegetable soup (samlor kakor), angkea dei soup and roasted catfish with ripe tamarind are among the most popular dishes at Angkea Dei.

“Other restaurants have simple local food on their menu and just decorate it with flowers to make it look great. But for food like roasted catfish with ripe tamarind, Angkea Dei uses side vegetables as a garnish,” he says.

Bunhor not only digs up traditional Cambodian food which he brings back to life, but he also adds more uncommon dishes in the menu. The idea, he says, is to remind people of the difficult time when they had barely anything to feed themselves with.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Grilled prahok on chopping board is a signature dish. Photo supplied Hong Menea

“Some food that we have dug up or is rarely seen in daily life brings back memories for our customers. Some told us that after the collapse of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, the giant taro sour soup and small fish soup, were the few food items they could afford.

“If we don’t breathe new life into our traditional food, it will be forgotten and eventually disappear. Our younger generations will not know about them.

Amok, for example, was claimed by another nation as its own, causing controversy and discontent among Cambodians until we won an international competition with the US, Canada, Switzerland and Thailand. Cambodia won a gold medal and they recognised it as ours,” he says.

From then on, he says any country that gets amok in their lucky draw at any international competition is recommended to learn from Cambodia, where it originates from.

Bunhor, who is also president of the Cambodia Chef Association (CCA), has been leading Cambodian chefs and introduced Cambodian traditional food in international competitions since 2012. They returned with many prizes and medals.

“For frog amok, I won a gold medal and a gold prize in 2014. For guava salad, I won a silver medal the same year,” says Bunhor.

Angkea Dei Restaurant reopened on June 1 after closing its doors for two months due to the pandemic. Its co-owner Chea Viravann says the restaurant adheres to safety guidelines of the Ministry of Health to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Angkea Dei Restaurant is located on Tolaka road in Chonlong village, Sala Kamroeuk commune, Siem Reap town. For more information, visit its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/siemreaprestaurantangkeadey/ or contact number 012 576 805.

Watch video:

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and