Anantara Angkor Resort is putting Cambodian cuisine on the world’s dining stage. Having immersed himself in Khmer [Cambodian] food and culture for the last five years, executive chef Kien Wagner has travelled extensively in search of lost recipes, from the bustle of Phnom Penh to the remote villages outside of Battambang and Kampot. Finally, he has found the adventure and rich history of Siem Reap – the former Angkor Empire – to call home.
When recruited by Anantara Angkor, Kien’s first trips were to the local markets and farms where he encountered a spray of bold colours: fire engine-red chilies; royal-purple sweet potatoes; emerald-green herbs. He took these ingredients and imagery back with him to the resort where he teamed with general manager, Anthony Borantin, to create Chi Restaurant and Bar. Chic, timeless and à la mode, Chi redefines indigenous dining to forge an original culinary concept. The unique presentation of modern Cambodian cuisine celebrates the country’s heritage and intriguing cultural influences. Guests discover an authentic transformation of traditional local flavours – immersing in a richly emotive experience.
‘Chi’ derives its name from the Khmer word for ‘herb’ and indigenous herbs and spices are very much the hero here – flourishing in the resort’s garden, plucked fresh each day and woven into a thoughtful menu that fuses local sensibility with contemporary artistry. Combining market-fresh seasonal produce, organic ingredients, tender aged meats and original spice blends, executive chef Kien Wagner crafts distinctive signature dishes. Faithfulness to flavour has a creative edge, as showcased by the radial symmetry of the charcoal eggplant or the linear simplicity of broccoli rabe.
“We want to showcase the deeply rich flavours of Khmer cuisine. What the rest of the world does not yet know is how flavourful the food here is,” says Kien. “The fundamentals of great cuisine exist, but the message competes with the strong food cultures that already exist in Asia. So we teamed with local suppliers to ensure authenticity and chose the most mutable recipes to create something new, but inherently comfortable. Sometimes you just need a little boost to get the conversation started.”
Original Asian dining is lifted by two built-in wine cellars housing an impressive collection of 70 labels, including a broad selection of wines by the glass. A live jazz singer lends soul to the convivial mood. Chi Restaurant and Bar serves breakfast and dinner daily, and is open to the general public.