Yearning for some authentic Chinese cuisine, editor Marissa Carruthers and photographer Charles Fox sample the delights of Fortune Palace.

Dining in a casino may not be the obvious choice but after hearing rave reviews about Naga World’s Fortune Palace and craving some Chinese bites, sampling the offerings was hard to resist.

Located away from the racket of the rammed roulette tables, Golden Fortune is as lavish as its surroundings, with thick carpets, ornate décor and a string of private rooms. The menu is hefty and boasts some of the best dishes from across China, making choosing almost a chore.

Wan ton soup, scallop dumplings, pork and shrimp siew mai, salmon spring rolls with ikura, deep fried mango and prawns with katafi pastry – the dishes are enough to make even the fullest salivate for more. Unfortunately, we were starving. That equates to ordering with our stomachs instead of our heads, and soon our table was being over-run with dishes.

First up was the deep fried garoupa with duck yolk. A feast for the eyes as well as the stomach, the dish is spectacularly presented. The fish is filleted and cut into pieces and deep fried with a batter of duck egg yolk, chilli and curry leaves to give it a strong fragrance. The result is served in a hand-woven basket of noodles beside the fish carcass, which is separately deep fried and presented on the plate. Crisp on the outside, the fish falls apart in the mouth, and the curry leaves and chillies provide a mildly spicy kick.

With presentation once again being impressive, the crispy prawns with orange cream offers plump prawns strategically dotted on the plate, with mushroom and prawn roe completing the decoration of a flower. The mango and orange mayonnaise the prawns are coated in before being fried adds a subtle sweetness, and the result is not overbearingly creamy.

The baked barbecue honey pork snow mountain buns were another treat for the tastebuds, and the first bite was a delight. The thin crisp coating is followed by the softness of the bun, then an even softer centre packed with the garlic and oyster sauce perfectly complimenting the sweet, shredded pork inside. This dish has the potential to be a disaster but, thankfully, it was cooked correctly, with just the right balance of juice inside to ensure it doesn’t spill onto the plate with the first bite.

Stuffed but happy to sample our final main platter of Mekong lobster dumplings – a classic hakao dish given a local twist – we tucked into our final helping, and what a delight it was. The rich lobster meat is cooked to perfection and packed full of flavour with the thin, almost translucent dough perfectly soft to the bite.

After throwing back some coffee to stave off entering a food coma, and squeezing in a perfectly balanced sweet and savoury lava cake, made from custard and salted egg – a fad sweeping across Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore – we rolled out of the door, satisfied that our lunch had helped to smash the stereotype of dining in a casino.

Naga World, Nordom Boulevard, Phnom Penh
Tel: 023 228 822.
Open daily from 11am to 3pm and 5pm to 10.30pm