Kampungkayell

Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"

Viroth's

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

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Keith pokes at his Ipod Touch as we sit in the alfresco section of Le Papier Du Tigre on Pub Street wondering where to go for dinner.

An armless man passes us on the street and comes up to our table and holds out his hand, begging. 2 children come by offering trinkets for the ubiquitous “one dol-lah.” It clawed at me to put on a dead pan face and shut them out.

“There’s this one called ‘Viroth’s.’ It really looks good.” Keith offers.

I guiltily but gladly pull myself out of my reverie and don’t mention how I feel to Allan or Keith. We decide on Viroth’s for our first dinner in Siem Reap.

Coming back from the temples to the hotel for a bit of a rest before the evening, it struck me how alike Siem Reap is to some of our towns in Malaysia. The grassy tree-lined river, the alleyways and roadways bordered with colonial style shophouses, the asian faces running around making ends meet and trying to scrape up a living. The only difference is that this is a country that had just come out of a civil war about a decade ago and was just now reclaiming it's rightful position in the community of nations. Truly, there but for the Grace of God...

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That night, Dara, our trusty moto driver from our "sunset" jaunt to the temples meets us at the entrance and in the light night drizzle, wends his way confidently to Viroth's. Obviously a destination he was familiar with.

As we step up to the main entrance of Viroth's, attractive Cambodian guys greet us in that amazingly hospitable manner that is obviously a cultural trait and show us to our table.

That was the first time we noticed Fabien sitting behind the reception area. We later learned that he owned the place with his Cambodian partner.

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The ambience was contemporary, chic, simply but effectively decorated and easygoing.

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I ordered a beer (An Angkor; not to be confused with An-chor ;-) ) and Keith and Allan ordered the food. I find it's easier to let them decide as I'm not very particular about what I eat and will generally eat most anything that's put in front of me.

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Allan was starving so we started off with Beef Salad. Gorgeous. Cool. Crunchy. Tart, sweet, and notes of lemons and herb from the lemongrass and coriander leaf. It didn't have the bite of a traditional Thai salad and it's flavours were nicely balanced rather than the overt herbaciousness of Vietnamese food.

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As part of our culinary adventure, we started with Vietnamese style fresh spring rolls. Lovely. The cool, crunchy vegetables, the sweet prawniness combined with the salty hit of the fish sauce. I have no idea what they call nuoc mam in Khmer but the fish sauce was yummylicious.

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It was a really cool night, and the breeze was very like a daytime in Fraser's Hill; cool, crisp and a little damp. So, we decided on a soup. A Chicken Lemon soup with julienned basil. Warming, green, savoury; absolutely delicious. Very soon, I was looking regretfully at the bottom of my bowl and wondering if I should be a pig and order more.

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The other dishes were just as yummy. Beef done like Thai Basil Beef but milder and more flavourful. And chicken with bamboo segments as well as onions and kangkung.

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We also had a Vegetarian Amok. Much like our Sayur Lemak. Rich, coconuty, earthy vegetables with that light lemony lemongrass. And they certainly were generous with the coconut milk; the sweet, creaminess shone through. If dishes like this are too lean on coconut milk, they're flat!

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For dessert, we had flambed bananas with coconut ice cream and a splash of rum. Sweet bananas paired with the evaporating feeling of alcohol up your nose and the light creaminess of coconut.

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Blue Pumpkin is one of the premiere cake and dessert suppliers in Siem Reap and we eventually came to recognise this mousse cake as one of their creations. It's called Le Louvre. A pun on Louvred windows and the museum. Very nice. Think creme brulee with a moist chocolate base! That heady chocolateyness and creamy custard is something that should be tried.

All in all a fantastic experience and one I would have no hesitation in recommending to anyone making a trip to Siem Reap. AND from what I can see on the website, his hotel is also a must try!

Viroth's Restaurant (Cambodian)
242 Wat Bo St, 016-951-800

6 Comments

Looks like a kewl place. Love the name for sure! Sounds like something out of a fantasy novel! :)

Whoa... love the food, love the musings (I agree: It's like the KL we want- sans traffic and mega malls).... looking forward to the inspirations this trip will bring to your menus.

"Think creme brulee with a moist chocolate base!"

Oh. Nigel. You had me at that. ;)

haha Paul; it's actually the name of Fabien's partner

implosion; thanks :-)

kenny; hahaha ;-)

Didn´t know you´re not particular over food lol, coz you seem to have a lot to say hahahahaha! great to know someone whom owns restaurant, especially in foreign country! kar liu! hehe

damn, how come i missed this place!!! went to blue pumpkin everyday though. their icecreams were yummy.
oh, i love the ANGKOR not ANCHOR pun...so crever hor.

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