Sep 7 2013


Malis is a wonderful restaurant in Phnom Penh. Chef Luu Meng prepares delicious traditional and modern Khmer (Cambodian) cuisine in an upscale environment for prices that in Cambodia are quite steep, but compared to Western Prices, this place is a real find. Chef Luu Meng is apparently quite well known in Cambodia, after having grown up in a refugee camp, he has gone to cook for the likes of Gordon Ramsey and he now co-owns Malis as well as a few other restaurants in Phnom Penh.

We were recommended to go there by our hotel manager and we are very glad we did. Malis is located by the independent monument in the centre of Phnom Penh, and it feels extremely luxurious when you approach it. It was raining when we arrived and a lovely man greeted me with an umbrella and walked me in. When you walk in you see a life size statue of a Budha in front of you and behind the Budha is a large pool where fish seem quite happy swimming around without predators in such a comparatively large water space. The tables are situated around the pool. Malis also seems extremely relevant and current and has 45,000 likes on facebook. The restaurant was playing nice live music when we went there and also was quite full with other tourists, creating a nice atmosphere that I found quite hard to get in many other places in Indochina.

All the food we ordered was delicious. I let my boyfriend chose most of the dishes and he went for “pork ribs marinated with tamarind and herbs” that had pork ribs marinated with tamarind paste and given an extra sweet and sour flavour with fresh cooked tamarind sauce. I absolutely loved this dish and this was my favourite dish of the whole meal. The pork was tender, there was a lot of meat on the small bone and the tamarind and herb flavour was mouthwatering delicious.

We also went for “saraman beef” which was beef with hand picked kroeung and special curry spice cooked very slowly “with repeated additions of extra coconut crème until tasty and tender”. I thought the beef was tender and had an interesting light taste to it and crunchy nuts added to it, but it was not really that tasty, nice and very good but not excellent. To go with our two main course we also ordered “wok fried morning glory” that had been fried with oyster sauce, garlic and chilli, and once again I did not think it was that impressive, and I have had the same combination morning glory dishes in Vietname on this trip that were much nicer. The thing though that I really enjoyed was the rice that we ordered, it was called “chicken curry steamed in a lotus leaf” and had according to the menu “chicken wrapped in a lotus leaf with rice and steamed to bring out flavour”. In reality the dish had a lot of rice and a bit of chicken on top all wrapped in a lotus leaf and it was delicious.

The fun things started to happen when we moved on to the deserts. My boyfriend ordered a banana wrapped in a pancake, cooked with a mushed banana sauce as well as a scoop of ice cream and also pumpkin sorbet. It said on their menu they made all their ice creams themselves so I was keen to try. The banana dish arrived, which was lovely and tasty, although not as good as some other variations of this dish I have had, but they only brought us vanilla ice cream. After reminding them about the pumpkin sorbet they brought us another scoop and when I tasted it, it was once again vanilla ice cream and not the sorbet that I wanted. We had to ask them again and then they brought us something different in a yellow colour and which was an ice cream and said this was pumpkin. This was definitely not sorbet and I am not sure if this was pumpkin, but by this time I found the whole thing quite amusing, so I did not argue and just asked for the bill and gave up on my pumpkin sorbet. However if you are very fussed about service, beware that people here don’t speak great English, had problems understanding what we wanted on several occasions and do these sort of pumpkin sorbet things.

Overall though I had a wonderful and tasty meal, one of the best I have had during the last 2 weeks of my trip in Indochina. The atmosphere was pleasant, décor beautiful and food most of the time excellent.

Date: 07/ 09/ 13
Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Price for 2 people, no alcohol: $53 and I left $3 service charge

Maija rated: 




No. 136, Preah Norodom (St. 41), 12301
Phnom Penh
Malis Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 4