Being stuck in Cambodia for Christmas doesn’t mean missing out on a hearty festive feast. Jessica Sander explores what Santa is serving up in kitchens across the Kingdom.

For many expats, Christmas in the Western world comes coupled with a table spilling over with food.

The mouth-watering smell of the juicy turkey that’s spent the morning cooking wafts across relatives squabbling over the last cracker on a table bursting full with the big bird, pigs in blankets, sprouts, roast potatoes and servings of cranberry and bread sauce.

For most, the festive season will be spent in Cambodia’s tropical climates. However, there are a host of venues who are getting in the spirit and serving up some specials with a seasonal twist this Christmas.

Cabaret
Elegant French/ Mediterranean restaurant, Cabaret, is offering two classic menus on Christmas Eve.

The five-course seafood special ($50) starts with a salmon terrine teamed with asparagus, followed by stand-out dish, lobster candy with mesculin salad.

Lobster meat encased in crispy filo pastry follows with the citrus tang of the pomelo salad adding a fresh flavour.

Sole is up next, and becomes a prize catch when married with champagne. Dessert is a three-cheese platter and chocolate and raspberry ice-cream yule log.

Cabaret’s meat lover menu ($65) is a fusion of French classics, such as champagne-baked oysters, foie gras ravioli and duck breast, pan fried with foie gras and roasted mango. Cheese and dessert complete this delicious meal.

159 St 154, Phnom Penh, 092 650 980, open daily from 10.30am to 11.30pm

Intercontinental Hotel’s Regency Café

The Intercontinental Hotel will be embracing the full festive spirit with a live choir and white Christmas theme.

Here, an abundance of traditional Christmas classics are fused with contemporary Asian cuisine on Christmas Eve, from 6pm.

Executive sous chef Philip Nock aims to introduce classics from his home country Australia, such as fresh seafood and Australian wagyu beef. Desserts take in favourites, including pavlova and trifle.

The buffet selection ($48 or $68 with wine) also takes in a carving and grill station, steamboat selection and creperie.

A buffet brunch (starts at $48) is also available on Christmas Day, from 11.30am to 3pm. One child below 12-years-old is complimentary with the second getting 50 percent off.

296 Mao Tse Toung Blvd, Phnom Penh, 023 424 888, open daily from 6am to 2.30pm and 6pm to 10.30pm

The Strand at Knai Bang Chatt 

Kickback in the relaxing surroundings of Kep’s luxurious Knai Bang Chatt on Christmas Day and enjoy festive tastes at The Strand restaurant.

Executive chef, Janine Fourie, has rustled up a seasonal treat for diners. For $18, guests can enjoy three perfectly prepared courses.

Appetizers include salmon gravlax accompanied with horseradish, vegetable pickle and boiled potatoes, peppered pork terrine with Parmesan brioche or mixed herb salad with vegetables drizzled in a lime vinaigrette.

A roasted turkey breast wrapped in smoked bacon stuffed with lemon peppered pistachio, asparagus or grilled snapper marinated in a lemon, ginger and coconut curry cream sauce is on offer for mains.

And for dessert, mince pies and caramel banana trifle is served with coconut cream and vanilla syrup.

Phum Thmey, Sangkat Prey Thom, Kep, 036 210 310/ 078 333 686, open daily from 7am to 10pm

Caravans Brasserie 

Contemporary French/Italian brasserie, Caravans is using the season’s finest ingredients, sourced both locally and abroad in its Christmas Eve set menu ($35).

The filling five courses include lobster medallions with caviar and avocado foam and hoisin-glazed salmon with a welcome drink on arrival.

Home-made foie gras features throughout and teamed with terrine and truffles, pumpkin soup, or stuffed into a traditional capon. Savour a sweet finish with classic desserts by Christophe, the famous Phnom Penh baker.

Caravans offers tasty and eclectic wines from Europe, Chile, Australasia and South Africa, which can be purchased separately to enjoy with your feast.

68 Sihanouk Blvd, Phnom Penh, 023 699 600, open daily from 6am to 11pm 

Kep Sailing Club

Sitting next to The Strand, Kep Sailing Club is a family-friendly venue and the ideal place to relax and enjoy the stunning seaside setting on Christmas Day.

On offer is lunch set two-course ($13.50) or three-course ($16.50) menus. For starters, diners can choose from grilled Kep prawn, mint, cucumber and pomelo salad or roasted cherry tomato mille feuille, spring onion cream cheese, herb salad and olive tapenade.

The main course takes in the traditional turkey given a fresh twist with slow roasted turkey breast wrapped in smoked bacon served with thyme and berries.

Other options are baked eggplant and basil rolls with fresh plum tomato, roasted bell pepper and camembert cheese and grilled snapper served with green peppercorn curry cream sauce and rice.

Leave room for dessert, which includes Christmas pudding with vanilla sauce or chocolate mousse with peanut brittle ice cream with cappuccino biscotti.

Phum Thmey, Sangkat Prey Thom, Kep, 036 210 310/ 078 333 686 open daily from 10am to 10pm.