Sunday, December 12, 2010

Siem Reap - Abacus Garden Restaurant, Bar

Over my 5 days in Siem Reap, dinner at Abacus was probably my best meal.  Since the owners and head chef are French, it was reasonable to go with the French options than the local offerings.  And they did not disappoint.

I was happy to find Orangina but realized over my stay that this is a pretty standard soda offering in these parts.  A la French influence. 

Our amuse bouche was a pomelo salad topped with a hard boiled quail's egg and drizzled with a sweet black soy sauce.  A clean and refreshing way to begin the meal and yummy too.

The tuna carpaccio with a green salad lightly dressed with a vinaigrette and shaved parmesan was very good.  Generous portions of sashimi-grade tuna drizzled with a tangy olive-oil based dressing was a nice change from the usual beef carpaccio.  The salad used local leaves which were unusual and interesting in flavours, almost herbal.  But it was surprisingly well paired with the Parmesan and not at all out of place on the platter.

The other appetizer of the grilled scallops were just as good.  Very fresh scallops that were only lightly seared to seal off a juicy and moist inside, paired with a light mesclun salad with little balls of goat cheese that added the richness to the dish.  Serving the cheese in little balls strewn around the platter was, I thought, very clever.  Since the cheese can be strong for some, the diner can decide exactly how much is enough without having to tip toe around the dish or avoid it totally if it had already been integrated into the salad dressing. 

The mains of the braised lank shank with lentils was way better than it looked, since it looked so one-dimensional when served given that it was just one color.  There were only 4 bright spots around the plate, unusually given off by the yellow baby spuds, which were surprisingly full of spud flavour.  But this dish is the plat de resistance.  The fall-off-the-bone meat was probably the best meat I had on the trip.  This had to be imported.  It was so soft and tender, but with a slightly strong lamb taste.  On its own, it might have been overpowering especially for non-lamb lovers.  But the pairing with the lentil gravy was very hearty and yummy.  I did mop up the gravy with whatever bread I had left and was even offered another basket by the server who caught my enthusiasm. 

Dessert ended our meal on a very high note.  The naturally sweet apple slices were stewed well to just leave a little crunch for texture so that the juicy sweetness comes through as you bite down.  The filo pasty tart ensured that this was not a heavy finish but an airy buttery lightness, which fragrance would make one happy to carry to bed.  But the surprise with the Kampot pepper, broken down and crushed to release its signature fragrance, with just enough heat to entice but not to overpower.  No other words, just plain “very good”. 

Love it when things come together and it did the night I dined there.  This may be the one place I would pay a repeat visit too.  

Tip: if they haven't paved the 100m on the little road and you're going by Tuk Tuk, get off at the main road and walk the 100m.  Otherwise, be prepared for a really rough ride, especially on the way out, after you've stuffed yourself with a lovely meal.

Directions: Road No 6 to the Airport, pass the Angkor Hotel, and turn right at the ACLEDA Bank; the restaurant is located 100 m, on the left-hand side.  

(+855) 63 966 156
(+855) 12 644 286
(+855) 92 318 528


  1. I am heading to Cambodia during the CNY :)
    Glad to have some reviews of places to go :)

  2. Great MissyGlutton! Enjoy! I will try to do a couple more so you have a range. But be prepared to eat touristy local as you visit the temples. Decent and almost everybody orders Amok of some kind, usually fish/chicken with rice. Similar to a Thai green curry but slightly sweeter and less spicy. Have fun.