Kroya is the flagship restaurant of Shinta Mani Club. Located by the hotel entrance, the venue is known for its creative interpretations of Khmer cuisine. Having tried quite a few Khmer restaurants in the past in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, I particularly love how the local food offers the best out of regional sensibilities. It’s not as fiery as Thai cuisine for example but at the same time, you get loads of fragrant (and healthy!) herbs like in Vietnamese cuisine.
As I approached Kroya, I immediately noticed the swing chairs at the outdoor seating area. If you’re not in a hurry to go somewhere, I really recommend sitting here for a more relaxing time. If you’re dining with a special someone, sitting here also enables for a more intimate dining experience.
For dinner, the restaurant offers a 6-course chef recommendation menu which runs through some of Kroya’s specialties. You can expect the usage of traditional ingredients such as local sausages and fermented meat so you get a really good dose of the food in Cambodia even if you have just a few days in the city.
We started off with a highly photogenic Amouse Bouche that was made of sun-dried fish, compressed watermelon and mango. The fish – a reminder of a staple common throughout Southeast Asia – was chopped into fine pieces and served to balance out the sweet flavors from the fruits.
This was followed by our appetizer, crispy fermented pork rolled with roasted eggplant and papaya slaw. Another dish to tease the palate, the roll came in bite-sized servings. The fermentation gave the pork a slightly sour flavor which became partly masked by the eggplant and lettuce. Nonetheless, I loved the contrasting textures as the eggplant served as a succulent cushion to the pork within while the lettuce provided for an added crunch to the dish.
We also had a side of wild pomelo salad as a second appetizer. If you’re familiar with the fresh salads in neighboring Thailand, the Khmer version would not be a total surprise with plump and juicy bits of pomelo giving a highly refreshing taste to the salad.
The soup – a fish broth with smoked fish, spinach, pumpkin and lemon basil gave me a throwback to more familiar comfort food. The stock had a mild flavor (just how I like it!) and would certainly suit those who are looking for an alternative to the spicy soups that prevail in Southeast Asian cuisine.
For the main course, I was given an option to choose between two dishes and I opted for the Kampot-pepper steak. To be frank, steak is not something you find by default in Khmer cuisine but the infusion of traditional flavors via the Kampot pepper sauce truly made this dish outstanding. I opted to have my steak medium-rare and the beef came to me juicy and tender – just like how medium-rare should be.
It is pretty rare for me to count a dessert as my favorite dish in any meal but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet stuff that marked the end of my meal. It had a lot going on at the same time – with a mix of sweet jelly, sticky rice, basil seed, pumpkin custard and black rice ice cream all in one plate! The highlight has got to be the black rice ice cream – a flavor I have not tried elsewhere. It was just divine and I enjoyed devouring each component on its own.
The Chef’s Recommendation Menu at Kroya goes for US$35 per person and is exclusive of 10% VAT and 10% service charge.
Shinta Mani Club
Oum Khun Street
+855 63 761 998