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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Siem Reap: A quality lunch at Mie Cafe!

The 5 AM Angkor sunrise tour in Siem Reap is a real tourist cliche.  But with nothing else planned and the promise of a spectacular view, I decided to trade good breakfast and some much needed sleep for a temple tour.  Something laughable. The private driver costs $35 for the day and the temple 1 day pass is $20 per person.  Highly recommended for parties wanting a quick tour as group tours are very draggy!
Cruising through the spectacular sights of Angkor Wat, the Bayon Temple and Angkor Thom showed me how these ancient superstructures heralded a preservation initiative by the Khmer government.  But scenic views does not keep a hungry stomach filled.  Not to mention the pack breakfast of cold bread reminded me of why I eat oatmeal instead.

After the temple tour, the private guide will always try to bring you to a restaurant which covers his meal and gives him commission. Fortunately, I found a place before coming and booked a table.  It was Mie Cafe which is located half-way between the temple roads and the city centre.  Just perfect as we were on our way home!  Mie Cafe is one of the many French restaurants with a Khmer inspired menu is Khmer graced with a touch of French.  As always, local produce gets first priority.  The tasting menu is $24 per person plus 7% tax.

To start was the Carpaccio of fresh snake head fish fillet cooked in fresh citrus juice with Cambodian spices, grapefruit and hazelnut oil dressing served with poached egg tempura.
This was a lovely salad!  Firstly, the ceviche was well-coated in a zesty citrus dressing.  Each mouthful of the salad was a bliss, thanks to the generous amount of mint, basil and chillies that made it extremely aromatic.  The oozy yolk from the tempura as well as the dollops of homemade mayonnaise brought the dish together very very nicely.  

(Samlor Pror herh) Crab meat emulsion with green peas, porhok fish and vegetable consommé, wild herb.
The purpose of this course was clear.  The consomm√© surrounding the barely marinated ingredients intended to rid the palate off the flavours from the rich starter earlier.  This course was hardly impressive but it served its purpose.  It left a clean aftertaste almost as though one had drank a glass of chilled unsweetened tea.  Neat.

Grilled prawn with Amok butter, roasted somanea seed, eggplant with coconut milk and dry cure ham.
When my 3rd course arrived at the table, I was shocked by the quantity on the plate.  But hey, its about the quality and not quantity right? haha.  If you manage to get past that stage, you will appreciate how the prawn was cooked to perfection. The buttery smell made me crave for more instantly!  Pair the prawn with the eggplant stewed with the cured ham and you are certain to get a curry like flavour.  This dish was small but absolutely deadly.

Fried pork with oven roasted giant eggplant, bell pepper and wild mushroom
This was the last savoury course and it looked typically Chinese.  But the immense refinement in cooking technique resulted in an unparalled eggplant dish.  Moist flavoursome mince and melt in your mouth aubergine was all the hype here.  There was some chilli in this dish but extremely mild.  Served with a bowl of rice, this was a dish to remember.  It was really delicious!

Hot and creamy chocolate fondant, homemade mango passion fruit sauce, served with vanilla ice-cream
Fresh out of the oven, I was not convinced by the sloppy presentation consisting of passionfruit and chocolate sauce.  But then, I cut the fondant into half.
And nothing else in the world mattered anymore.  It was simply delicious.  Rich, dark and well-toned sweetness.  This fondant was just spot on. The fruit and mildly acidic passion fruit help add dimension to the dessert and the whole thing just really worked.  If you ever get burnt by the super hot fondant, the ice cream helps :)!

Mie Cafe was on my itinerary as an option, and not an essential.  But after an afternoon dining on meals where everything was so good, I think future itineraries will have to be changed.  The food at Mie Cafe went well beyond our expectations.  From the zesty salad course to the skimpy dish of grilled prawn with butter and the rich chocolate fondant, it was just heaven on earth.  It was no wonder that the trainer at Haven Dining ranks Mie Cafe amongst his top dining destination.  A restaurant worth re-visiting!