When we decided to stay at Amansara in Siem Reap, we were concerned about not being able to discover true Khmer cuisine. This is because Amansara has a mandatory partial board charge that includes daily breakfast and a choice of lunch and dinner. Select wines and spirits are also included. Would we get Cambodian food at the most exclusive property in Siem Reap? Or will we be served a watered down Western variation of Cambodian cuisine?
Tom and my fears were put to rest at our first meal. The food was mouth-dropping amazing. Before our first dining experience at Amansara, on our early evening in Siem Reap, we found a “locals” restaurant in town and sampled a variety of Cambodian dishes. The meal in town was delicious. However, every single plate we tried at Amansara blew our minds (and taste buds) way beyond the “local” spot!
Amansara’s Executive Chef Molly Rygg has managed their dining program for two years. Trained at the exclusive Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, Chef Rygg has previously worked in the United States, Bhutan, and the Philippines. When we spoke with Chef Rygg, she told us that the menu was designed to give diners an authentic “home cooked” meal.
One morning, Tom and I went with Chef Rygg to a local food market to see all of the fresh ingredients that inspire the menu (this tour was part of our cooking class experience). We were introduced to vendors selling in-season fruits and vegetables. Chef Rygg showed us the stand where the restaurant obtains fresh coconut milk that gets pasteurized at Amansara before its’ addition to dishes. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to shop at a local market with the Executive Chef of the most exclusive property in town. We will never forget this experience; the insight into the local food scene and how it translates to the menu.
An interesting side note about the market excursion: We saw live and roasted ants being served. Chef Rygg said that Amansara offers a cocktail with toasted ants as a garnish. Later that evening, we naturally had to try this “off the menu” concoction. It was a beautiful, tropical fruit tasting rum-based drink with the prepared ants peppered on top. If you didn’t know what they were, they looked and tasted like toasted sesame seeds. It’s a great way to experiment with “street food” without the fear of getting sick!
The menu at Amansara has Western options in addition to traditional Khmer dishes. We only tried the local dishes but can imagine Western food is equally delicious. Naturally, dining at Amansara is an experience unlike any other. The service and setting were impeccable. Tom and I have dined at exclusive restaurants in the past, but we were impressed with the subdued elegance at Amansara.
Meals can be served in the guest’s suite, by the pool, or in the dining room. The only time we dined in our suite was before our “Sunrise” tour of Angkor Wat when we had a fantastic breakfast (at 4 AM!) of a fresh fruit plate, croissants, and coffee. Otherwise, we enjoyed the air-conditioned comfort of the dining room where we could mingle with others. Otherwise, at breakfast, I enjoyed the delicious coffee and a salad. Yes, a salad made of hearts of palm, pomelo, jicama, greens, and vinaigrette. I’m also a sucker for freshly baked slices of bread and homemade preserves, so naturally, I had to sample a nice variety! Tom fell in love with Nom Ben Chok, which is a traditional Khmer breakfast green curry rice noodle soup.
For lunch, guests may select three dishes from a large number of options from either a Western or Khmer menu. At dinner, the menu is a set menu (but being Amansara, you can still choose whatever you want)! Our favorite dishes included: Trei Ang Ngoam (a pounded roasted fish salad), Char Kdout Trei (a serving of stir-fried fish, scented with lemongrass and holy basil), Nhoam Sach Kou Oeng (a grilled beef salad with bell pepper and long mint), Sach Chrouk Kroeng Oeng (lemongrass skewers wrapped with ground pork), Ngoam Troyong (a mixture of pomelo and poached prawns), and Amok Trei (the “national” dish, a fish coconut curry). We got to make the three final dishes during our cooking class! And naturally, meals were accompanied by select wines and spirits!
Dinnertime is the liveliest meal at Amansara. It was enjoyable to chat with other guests while having pre-dinner cocktails and to hear about their adventures around town. Once again, this isn’t on the menu, but Amansara serves house-made infused rum. Try it! At dinner, guests are treated to a traditional Cambodian musician and singer performing quietly in the background.
My only regret is that we never tried the lovely afternoon tea, complete with a large selection of cheese and freshly baked desserts. We were so full from the other meals! Next time Amansara; we will make room in our stomachs for the lovely mid-day spread! Amansara is naturally unique, but it doesn’t feel unattainable or elitist. The dishes were beautiful, but more importantly, they tasted incredible. The atmosphere of subtle live Khmer music, spectacular service, and fantastic food made our dining experience one of the highlights of our stay at Amansara.
Virtuoso Amenities for your stay
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- Continental breakfast daily, for up to two in-room guests
- A 60-minute massage per room per stay
- Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi