Cooking for the high-class is a piece of cake at L’Amboise. Writer Ellie Dyer and photographer Charles Fox test it out.
With high-class patrons and sumptuous French cuisine, L’Amboise restaurant at the Cambodiana Hotel brings a personalised service to its clientele.
“We know how to serve the Prime Minister; we know how to serve the King,” explains the hotel’s food and beverage manager Tep Romania, sitting in the restaurant’s intimate dining room overlooking the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers.
The French eatery, which is enduringly popular with the upper echelons of society, has a long history in Phnom Penh. First opened in 1990, though at the time operating under a different name, it soon earned a reputation for fine dining par excellence.
“The first hotel that opened after the war was the Cambodiana,” says Romania, who rose up the ranks to become the hotel’s F&B manager around a decade ago, and has had experience working in Australia.
Having served United States president Barack Obama, who visited Cambodia in 2012, Romania says that both good service and good food are key to success, emphasising the importance of knowing and catering for guests’ personal preferences and tastes.
Under the guidance of executive chef Song Teng, the kitchen uses imported produce, such as French oysters, in a menu that changes every three months in line with the European seasons.
The newly launched Autumnal menu features seasonal products, alongside both signature and classic dishes, to keep it fresh.
Illustrating the team’s skills is an impressive dome of puff pastry encasing a classic, rich black onion soup with gooey Emmental cheese. In another dish, a truffle oil dressing brings out the woody notes of a smoked salmon and smoked duck salad.
Intricate sculptures of Cambodian temples carved from potatoes decorate plates, with a succulent cut of US beef tenderloin accompanied with an innovative rock salt infused with red wine, alongside sautéed mushrooms, spinach and a pepper sauce.
The roast lamb benefits from deep-fried crispy corn, a vegetable ratatouille, red capsicum coulis and a garlic confit, while the traditional French snail has been adapted into a crispy wonton and added to a smoked duck salad with Caesar sauce.
For dessert, try the walnut mazarin cake, where the nuts add an extra dimension of crunch and a raspberry coulis cuts through the sweet flavours.
And after decades of providing top cuisine to the capital, with the Cambodiana team often called upon to cater for important events held at the Royal Palace, Tep Romania and Song Teng have forged a close working relationship, ensuring the quality of fine dining at the hotel for years to come.
“The strength is because of these two people right here,” adds Pascal Brandt-Gagnon, Cambodiana’s resident manager, sitting down with the pair.
Cambodiana Hotel, 313 Sisowath Quay
Tel: 023 426 288
Open daily from Noon to 2:30pm and 6;00pm – Late