Dinner at @khmer_kitchen.
Nyum La-Hong w. Pork / Sah-Law Machine Yuin w. Tilapia / Prah_hok Kateeh / Thr'eh Ch'in Chun'n / Cha Kr'ung w. Chicken
Totally new type of cusine for me. Not only was it novel but, fortunately, thoroughly excellent as well.
What is most particular is the thorough and cleverly incorporated use a variation of sour elements. Don't be afraid of this twist either, the quantities are always mindfully applied resulting in a harmonious balance.
You start with an "aggressively refreshing" soup featuring literal boulders of tender succulent tilapia. The bites of sweet and lightly tart pineapple/gourd melon awaken your tastebuds. Chunks of tomato provide mild umami savory aspects along with fried garlic. And the softened but still crisp lotus root adds a fun textural variation.
Whole Fried Tilapia once again demonstrates the kitchen's mastery with seafood. Fried without loosing moisture or delicacy, the cooking method results in a playful chewy skin that is later covered with a salty/sour tamarind/black bean based sauce along with grated ginger (aftertaste) and crunchy peppers for freshness. Loved it as well.
The Papaya Salad is one that can be skipped however: relatively bland without much spice or highlight worthy pork. However what you cannot pass on is the caramelized pork. It's actually much more salty than sweet upfront. Whatever sweetness is there works with ground peanuts and deeply flavorful lard drenched ground pork to deliver a peanut butter loving carnivore's moment of bliss.
Not to be outdone would be chicken featuring yellow kr'ung paste with turmeric forward Indian curry type notes but also complemented by comforting lemon grass, garlic, kefir lime leaf, and galonga savory touches. Crisp celery, pepper, and peanut keep this dish light. Heat on it is just right acting as a palate cleanser almost to allow you to enjoy the different aspects.
Everything made fresh to order yet in a timely manner. Prices downright cheap for these large well executed plates.