Maybe it’s the romance of indulging one’s wonderlust and empty stomach in SE Asia. Perhaps it’s the location set in what feels like worlds away from the tourist-centric Pub Street. Or maybe it’s that slight uncertain feeling the tuk-tuk driver actually has no idea where he is going as you pass through streets covered in darkness (he does). Whatever it is, a visit to Cuisine Wat Damnak feels like something special.
Ranked #43 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, and the only restaurant in Cambodia to make the list, it can be stated with confidence that this is Cambodia’s best restaurant. While this may not sound like such an accomplishment at first blush, this country has some seriously delicious food on both ends of the cuisine spectrum.
Founded by a French couple who decided to stay in Cambodia, Cuisine Wat Damnak serves technical, masterful cooking that takes full advantage of the many gastronomical wonders the country has to offer. Indeed, rather than just changing with the seasons, the menu changes every two weeks.
Given that kind of rapid menu turnover, one might think the food suffers. Fear not, though, as every course was a gustatory hit. Moreover, the chef may be French, but there is no reliance on French ingredients like butter, cream, cheese, truffles, or fois gras. This is high Cambodian cuisine that leaves you full, but never heavy.
The icing on the cake (durian?) is the jaw-dropping value offered here.
There are two course menus you can choose from, and the table need not order the same menu. Each menu consists of six courses, there is no service charge or additional tax, and it only costs TWENTY EIGHT DOLLARS!
The four of us enjoyed the course, had plenty of bottled water, and two skillfully selected bottles of wine. The damage (or lack thereof) was a good bit under $200. Unbelievable.
I’m really not sure if there is another place in the world that can provide such an outstanding meal for such an unbelievable price. If I lived in Siem Reap, I would visit every week to try each menu for sure.
If you’re in Cambodia, this is an absolute, 100%, no questions asked, MUST VISIT restaurant.
Let’s Eat Cuisine Wat Damnak!