No.43

Cuisine Wat Damnak

Siem Reap, Cambodia

On the pass:

Joannès Rivière

Pastry chef:

Style of food:

New Cambodian

Standout dish:

Crispy beef tongue with shiny cresson, fermented tomato sauce, beef and clam reduction

Contact:

Wat Damnak Village, Sala Kamreuk Commune, Siem Reap

+855 77 347 762
http://www.cuisinewatdamnak.com/

Creative Cambodian cuisine with French roots

A slice of history: Joannès Rivière didn’t originally set forth from France intending to open the number one restaurant in Cambodia; he ventured out as a volunteer cooking instructor. During his two years at a non-profit organisation he wrote one of the first Cambodian cookbooks available at the time, which opened doors to him becoming sous chef at Hôtel de Paix in Siem Reap in 2005. In 2011 he opened Cuisine Wat Damnak with his wife, Carole Salmon. 

Local fixings: With a commitment to fresh local produce, almost all the restaurant’s ingredients are sourced from neighbouring farms and foraged from around Siem Reap province. Among the indigenous delicacies are kuy fruits, edible flowers and water-lily stems. Rivière’s appreciation for produce might come from being the son of French organic vegetable growers – his parents supplied the renowned La Maison Troisgros in Roanne.

Mutating menu: Traditional Khmer dishes are given a creative twist to turn them into contemporary cuisine on a menu that changes each week. Courses on the two tasting options might include boneless frog legs with Cambodian green giant eggplant salad; spicy chicken curry with fresh rice vermicelli or barbecued beef shank soup with burnt green papaya.

Where is it? In the area famous for the UNESCO World Heritage site Angkor Wat, Cuisine Wat Damnak is set in a traditional wooden house with air-conditioned dining room and tropical garden.

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