We got there pretty early and were warmly welcomed by Ms. Carole. She asked where we preferred to have our meal, inside where there is air conditioning, in the garden or in the tree house. She suggested to dine inside because it was a hot humid night, we followed her suggestion and took our seats inside. She also apologized that her husband, chef Joannes Riviera couldn't come out because it was a full house that evening.
|Tree House Area
There were two sets of tasting menu to choose from and you can also pick from a five or six course meal. We opted to go for the six course since the difference was only $4. We tried both tasting menus, the five course costs $24 while the six cost $28.
I was kind of surprise to see a piece of fried fish that was served, it's supposed to be our amuse bouche. The fried fish was served with an citrus oil and herb emulsion. It looked really simple but it was cooked and prepared perfectly. Crispy skin, tender flesh and the sauce had a perfect balance of flavors.
|Amuse Bouche for the night
Since our meal was really affordable, we decided to have wine pairings for some of the dishes. We got to pair four types of wine. I felt that the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc would have worked really well for all the dishes.
|Grand Noir Varietal Blend
|Norton 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
|Grand Noir Chardonnay
|Mussel Bay Sauvignon Blanc
I'll start with the 1st Tasting Menu. Up first was the Angkor Stout Braised Beef Shank, peanuts, green and fermented Cabbage. The beef shank was so juicy and tender and it matched well with the crunchy tasty cabbage and peanuts.
|Angkor Stout Braised Beef Shank, peanuts, green and fermented Cabbage
The Shrimp Roll with toasted coconut and water lily stem, wild betel leaves and passion fruit dressing didn't only look beautiful but it tasted of it as well. This one was easily one of our favorite dishes of the evening. Every aspect of the dish was really well thought of.
|The Shrimp Roll with toasted coconut and water lily stem, wild betel leaves and passion fruit dressing
Next up was the Braised vegetables with frog meat, toasted rice puree and curry broth. The frog legs was melt in your mouth tender, beautifully cooked veggies and the curry tasted fresh and sweet.
|Braised vegetables with Frog meat, Toasted rice puree and Curry broth
The Grilled Tonle Sap Croaker Fish in Galangal Leaf, pounded wild eggplant and green tomato salad was simple yet so hearty.
|Grilled Tonle Sap Croaker Fish in Galangal Leaf, pounded wild eggplant and green tomato salad
To sum up the first option course was Fresh rice flake Panacke with caramelized banana, Cambodian Cinnamon, chocolate pot de creme.
|Fresh rice flake Panacke with caramelized banana, Cambodian Cinnamon, chocolate pot de creme
The second tasting menu starts with Pan fried Chlang fish, green mango, pickled eggplant with palm sugar and green peppercorn. Fish tender and juicy that complimented the crunchiness of the green mango and flavors harmoniously blending together.
|Pan fried Chlang fish, green mango, pickled eggplant with palm sugar and green peppercorn
The Duck and Holy Basil Crispy Rice Cake, homemade Oyster Sauce and Fresh Cucumber was also one of our favorite dishes for the night, I liked the play of contrasting components of the ingredients, crunchy and tender plus richness and freshness.
|Duck and Holy Basil Crispy Rice Cake, homemade Oyster Sauce and Fresh Cucumber
The Cauliflower, foraged Candle Yam and Scallop Soup, smoked Garlic and Coconut Emulsion came in two parts that is served with white rice on the side. On the main plate was perfectly cooked scallops, leaves and smoked garlic. On its own this was already so tasty but when you pour in the coconut emulsion, it brings the dish to another level. Again, one of our favorites.
|Cauliflower, foraged Candle Yam and Scallop Soup, smoked Garlic and Coconut Emulsion
Chinese influence was so evident in the Stir fried Wild Mushroom with Prawn and Crispy Vermicelli, mince Pork, Tofu and fermented Soy Bean sauce. Prepared and cooked perfectly, it kind of reminded me of the stir fried duck meat that is usually done with a 4-way Peking Duck course.
|Stir fried Wild Mushroom with Prawn and Crispy Vermicelli, mince Pork, Tofu and fermented Soy Bean sauce
For dessert, it was a refreshingly sweet and tangy Chilled Fruit Soup with Mondulkiri Tea, Lime Sorbet and Meringue.
|Chilled Fruit Soup with Mondulkiri Tea, Lime Sorbet and Meringue
The Petite Fours that ended our meal was pretty interesting, they serve bite size pieces of assorted sour fruits and a line of half sugar and half salt. Based on what we experienced before, petite fours are usually sweet, it leaves a happy satiated ending to a meal. But after having the sour fruits in Cusine Wat Damnak, it made us want to have more. I'm not sure if this was a ploy to bring people back but it sure did worked for us, we would have come back the next day if only it wasn't our last night in Siem Reap.
We've eaten at a number of top ranked restaurants in Asia but I've never experienced having such an aromatic meal, every dish that was placed in front of us exquisitely smelled beautiful. My mouth would literally start to salivate whenever I get a whiff of each dish. During the time we ate here, Cuisine Wat Damnak wasn't part of the Top Restaurants in Asia list but I believed that in due time Cuisine Wat Damnak will receive its much deserved recognition. I thoroughly enjoyed our meal as it was one of my most unforgettable meals I had. True enough, a year after, I'm ecstatic to see Cuisine Wat Damnak making it on the list of Asia's Top 50 restaurants. Truly well deserved.
Cuisine Wat Damnak
Address: Wat Damnak Market Street, POBOX 93108
Phone Number: + 855 77 347 762