Khmer Delight –
While Thai and Vietnamese food has hogged the limelight over the past few years, Cambodian food has yet to establish as strong a following; which is surprising as it is amazing! Khmer Delight is – to date – the only authentic Cambodian restaurant in
Service here is a fine specimen with my cheerful and dynamic waitress brimming with suggestions and recommendations. A distinct personal touch is evident from how a rapport is established with each and every person entering the restaurant, be it by humoring an excited infant or attempting to guess my ethnicity.
I whet my appetite with the Chicken and Banana Blossom Salad ($7.90). The sweet and tangy dressing was exceptional with a delicate spiciness blooming on your tongue for a millisecond at first crunch before dimming to gentle warmth, much like a firework display. I loved the fact that the chicken was not dry or tough but soft and rather moist. Together with banana blossoms, crunchy cabbage, a scattering of refreshing mint leaves and pickled ginger, it made for a delightfully light start to the meal.
Off to a strong beginning, I attacked the Beef Lok Lak ($14.90) with gusto. This signature Cambodian dish is almost indistinguishable from a really, REALLY good stir-fried black pepper beef. The generous portion of thickly sliced lean beef had good bite while remaining tender and was tossed with sugary-sweet, delightfully crisp chunks of bell pepper and onions. However, the knockout punch would have to be the smoky, warm and syrupy pepper sauce lying in a gorgeous, glossy sheen over everything.
The Fish Amok ($11.90) came next in quick succession. Despite what its intriguing moniker might suggest, there was nothing chaotic about this utterly beautiful dish. Unlike the typical homogenous fish-paste otah most are used to; the Cambodians opt for meaty chunks of firm fish buried like nuggets of treasure in a rich, chili-and-spice infused coconut cream custard. While a little overwhelming on its own, the wobbly custard is nothing short of divine when messily scooped up with crunchy prawn crackers.
I brought my meal to a close with Banana and Sesame Fritters with Ice Cream ($6.90). Apparently, bananas grow abundantly in Cambodia and no part of the plant goes to waste. Banana blossoms went into the salad; banana leaves were used to wrap the fish amok, imparting a delightful flavor; now the fruits take centre-stage in my dessert. Black sesame seeds added a wealth of dimension to the crispy coating of the fritter which was thick, serving a dual purpose of not turning soggy too quickly and providing a layer of thermal insulation between the piping hot banana and cold ice cream. I have no idea how they managed to get a hot banana robed in warm pastry but it worked out beautifully. The banana itself was more sour than sweet, relying on the ice cream for sugar quotient, resulting in a symbiosis between fruit and frozen confection of not only temperature but taste as well. In short, it was absolutely delish!