Tusita Fine Dining in Siem Reap is a heavenly addition to the tourist destination’s culinary scene.
Michelin-starred chef Emmanuel Stroobant has brought his expertise to Cambodia for the first time to set up fine-dining establishment Tusita – Sanskrit for “realm” or “contentment”.
Last year, Siem Reap welcomed more than three million visitors and treated them to the temple town’s world famous hospitality.
Having celebrated a soft launch on January 20, Innotality Corporation executive vice-president Khim Monirath explains it had been a lifelong dream to “put Khmer cuisine on the international stage”.
Innotality Corporation is behind some of the Kingdom’s most celebrated establishments, including Borei Angkor Resort & Spa, Lotus Blanc Hotel & Resort, Mudita Spa, Damnak Lounge Fine Dining, Twizt Lifestyle Hostel, Ox Club and Rice Kitchen.
Monirath grew up in the UK, where few places offered Cambodian fare.
To ensure her children enjoyed the cuisine of their native land, Monirath recalls that her mother would frequent the local markets and take “tremendous care to perfectly season and meticulously plate every meal she served”.
She dedicates Tusita, which is owned by Innotality Corporation, to her mother.
As serendipity would have it, Monirath and her mum were dining at one of Stroobant’s establishments in Singapore when she decided on the concept of “dining in heaven”.
Stroobant’s name may be familiar, not only because of his appearance on Master Chef Australia, but also because of the numerous awards he has collected over the years, including the coveted Michelin star.
Tusita is Stroobant’s first foray into the Kingdom’s food and beverage industry.
Per his last email, Stroobant first visited Siem Reap a little more than a year ago and fell in love with the town and its people.
His culinary journey can be traced back to his hometown of Liege, Belgium, where he began washing dishes at the age of 16. By the time he was 23, he had opened his own restaurant.
While still in his 20s, Stroobant hit the road. He travelled to the US, Australia, France, Thailand and – perhaps most crucially – Malaysia, seeking inspiration.
It was in Kuala Lumpur that he met his wife and business partner Edina Hong. The couple soon after moved to food-obsessed Singapore which received its second Michelin star last year.
Soon after, Stroobant, Hong and Saint Pierre found a new home in Singapore, and expanded their business empire to include Shoukouwa.
Saint Pierre and Shoukouwa both earned two Michelin stars for the Michelin Guide Singapore.
“Excellent cooking, worth a detour,” the exacting guidebook says of the restaurants.
In Siem Reap, Stroobant aims not only to elevate the culinary scene, but also blend classic French cooking techniques with fresh local ingredients.
“Tusita is not a fusion place,” Stroobant stresses. “The food is authentic Khmer and the ingredients are 100 per cent local, except for the beef, the supply of which we are still working on.”
He is one of the few chefs of his standing in the world to dedicate between 60 to 80 per cent of his menu to the “green protein space” in a bid to influence his growing number of culinary followers.
The chicken consomme for instance is made using fresh local poultry. Like a lotus flower, the meat emerges from the broth and is garnished with lime and mushrooms.
The menu exclusively offers set menus. For more information please visit www.thetusita.com.