MALIS. A temple of Cambodian cuisine

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Text by Pamela McCourt Francescone

Photos by Pamela McCourt Francescone and Archive

Inspired by the history and the splendour of Angkor Wat’s temples Chef Luu Meng has created a new temple, Malis. A temple to gastronomy and to Luu’s vision of Khmer cuisine, that reaches back to the opulent courts of the ancient kings but also to the traditions of the villages and the countryside of his native Cambodia. From the elegant white facade of the villa on Siem Reap’s riverside to the central courtyard – which at night is lit by candles that shimmer on the pond – to the spacious rooms on the upper floor with high ceilings and local sandstone reminiscent of the nearby ancient temples.

Luu Meng has recreated Cambodia’s traditional cuisine in all its splendour. An elegant and elaborate cuisine that was handed down for centuries, then wiped out by the years of terror of the Khmer Rouge, and that he has now adapted to contemporary tastes, without losing any of its genuine qualities and ancient rituals.

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In Khmer Malis means jasmine, a flower with a delicate yet intense perfume and that same underlying sensuality that Chef Luu imparts to his creations, to his Living Cambodian Cuisine which is the embodiment of the flavours and essences of his homeland.

On the menu, classics like Fish Amok with Turmeric, Rice with Crabmeat – Cambodia’s award-winning rice is the best in the world – Beef Curry in Lotus Leaf and Papaya Salad with Smoked Fish. And among the sweet temptations there is the seductive Crème Brulée with Kampot Pepper: a bewitching and explosive provocation from Chef Luu Meng.