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13 Aug 2015
Siem Reap, a long standing player on the capital's Asian-fusion scene, won my heart (and eventually my stomach) within seconds of entering their Dixon Street dining premises.
I’m not usually so forthcoming when it comes to singing my praise, however when I entered admitting I was part of the lone diner club, I was reassured by the wait staff that there was absolutely no judgement and it is often ”the best way to dine”. With boosted self-esteem and a burning hunger, I immersed myself well within the traditional Cambodian style décor - perfect for relaxed dining and people watching. There I sat, peacefully sipping away on my delicious traditional tea.
Despite viewing Siem Reap through fresh eyes on my most recent visit, I am no stranger to the nine year old establishment. On previous visits, I have been armed with both a large group of hungry females, and a self-imposed shallow mantra of 'when eating Asian, one must order noodles'. After much berating from my foodie friends, this time I let go of my death grip on ordering the massive portions of chicken Mee-Goreng and ordered a fresh duck salad for my main course. This wasn’t an easy decision, but it was a good one.
Upon telling the lovely manager, Thea, about my usual mainstream cravings, she suggested adding a classic entrée of stuffed chicken drumsticks, to which I immediately and excitedly obliged. This arrived quickly and proceeded to disappear with maybe a little too much haste.
As well as launching a pleasurable assault on my taste-buds, the drumsticks allowed me to explore multiple meal components without signing my appetite away to a full meal. The full flavour and crispness of chicken skin combined with vermicelli noodles... I salivate at the thought.
As the duck salad arrived I tried to suppress my disappointment that I had actually ordered a salad rather than my usual carb fest. However, I soldiered on with an open mind. My usual counter-intuitive attitude to salad is a classic game of 'find the protein', which initially seemed difficult in this well tossed creation. After taking a few hungry mouthfuls I was completely overwhelmed by the flavour and the freshness of the sauce.
The salad is bathed in a sweet and sour lemon and garlic fish sauce, which translated to basic flavour terms - the best ever sweet and sour sauce with a zesty lemon kick. Combined with peanuts, an array of shredded vegetables and tender duck I was completely satisfied, and this was without going on a lethal 'duck hunt' with my fork.
I finished my Siem Reap experience much as it began; sipping tea, and soaking up the peaceful dining atmosphere. It was nice to leave without being in a paralytic state of ‘food comatose’ for once. With classic Asian fusion options and those to challenge your palate I would highly recommend veering off Cuba Street and committing to meal. Remember to book on weekends though - their quality, affordable cuisine is no secret around here.
Georgia meets maker and baker Brigid of Milk Crate cafe.