Cuisine Wat Damnak
Established Fine-Dining Favorite
To many gastronomes, the subtle flavors and spicing of Khmer cuisine makes it one of Southeast Asia’s great food secrets. That’s certainly the view of French chef Joannes Riviera, who has taken inspiration from Cambodia’s unsung culinary traditions to create one of the region’s biggest restaurant success stories. Cuisine Wat Damnak has received numerous accolades since opening for business in 2011. Using only the freshest local produce (think juicy tropical fruit, bamboo shoots, and fish from nearby Tonle Sap), Riviera devises regularly changing tasting menus that burst with creativity. Recent hits include crispy beef tongue with fermented tomato paste and homemade oyster sauce, and lemongrass-marinated seafood salad with pomelo (a type of citrus fruit). Dinner is a steal at just $31 for six courses.
By Duncan Forgan, AFAR Local Expert
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Since 2011, chef Johannès Rivière has been tempting, surprising and pleasing diners at Cuisine Wat Damnak, his marvelous Cambodian fusion restaurant in Siem Reap. The restaurant features frequently changing tasting menus showcasing lesser known Cambodian dishes and with unexpected flavor combinations. The focus at Wat Damnak is not on traditional Khmer food, but rather, new ways to use locally sourced, seasonal produce, such as Tonle Sap croaker and kuy fruit. The setting is refined, and a choice selection of reasonably priced wines pair well with Cambodian flavors. Chef Rivière's long experience in the region--he developed tasting menus at Siem Rieap's Hotel de la Paix, and headed culinary classes at Sala Bai Hotel and Restaurant School--make him the ideal guide to contemporary Cambodian food. A meal at Wat Damnak is a dining experience worth traveling for!
Restaurant serving local ingredients and dishes but with a refined French touch
One of the best restaurants in town, the chef collects the best ingredients available locally and presents them beautifully.
By Molly Rygg