Thursday, August 2, 2012

YummY! - Cafe Malaya, Phnom Penh

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                                 YummY!                                   Jotaro's Food Review     
Phnom Penh, Cambodia - July 2012
I was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia recently on one of my business trips and popped into Cafe Malaya for lunch.
Cafe Malaya is one of the few places in Phnom Penh that serves Halal Malay fare. Among its many patrons are Malaysian tourists looking for Halal food or those who just miss nice Malay rice & dishes.
It is operated by Suhamie, a Malaysian who hails from Kedah, and his family. The cooking is done by his wife, a Cambodian, who surprisingly have a penchant for Malay cooking as evident by the delicious food they serve.

Suhamie has created a cozy atmosphere in his shop and his tag-line is "........ where friends congregrate......" is indeed appropriate as many patrons linger on even after finishing their meal - just to chat with one another, trading stories or discussing business plans.

Cafe Malaya serve food buffet style, self-service for the food and one gets to eat as much as one can. Their main fare typically consists of three meat dishes (chicken & beef), a fish dish (either curry or fried), and one or two vegetable dishes. To complement these, there is a "ulam" salad, soup and dessert. Drinks ordered are separately charged. It is up to the individual to choose any of these to go with their white rice. Different dishes and desserts are served on separate days.

To kick of the meal, one can have this "ulam", i.e. Malay raw salad, that consists of kacang botol, long beans  & cucumbers. This can be eaten as a separate course or all together with the main rice course.

The ulam is traditionally eaten with sambal belachan, i.e. red chilli pounded together with belacan (dried shrimp paste).

Today there are two chicken dishes, the first one being this Ginger Fried Chicken. The ginger is pre-fried until crispy and the residual oil (smelling good of ginger) is used to stir-fry the chicken. Soy sauce is added. The ginger oil has permeated well into the chicken meat, making this dish unique in taste.

The beef dish for today is Spicy Beef, it's not a curry. The beef is cooked with chilli and thick soy sauce and some other spices. The combination just makes this a well balanced-in-taste dish. Cafe Malaya also ensured that the beef used are daily fresh and real tender. On other days they serve Beef Rendang Curry, etc.

For today, curry fish is served. The fish used is Toman "Snake-head Fish" (sometime they use Patin, river silver cat-fish) cooked in coconut milk with lady-fingers, tomatos and other spices added. The curry is of the thicker variety. I found this a tasty fare and the lady-fingers used are the younger ones, cooked till slightly soft. On other days fried fish is offered.

The second chicken dish is Chicken Rendang Curry - a heady curry cooked with large chunks of potatoes in thick coconut milk. I always love this dish and the potatoes are good too.

Today's vegetable dish is fried cabbage garnished with chilli and spring onions. A simple dish to ease off the strong curries.

Soup of the day is red tomyam soup with quail eggs, extra hot with more chillis thrown in. Dessert for today was black glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk.

Taking a decent helping of white rice, I went for all the dishes with the ulam thrown in all together. It was a delicious combination, offering me a taste of Malaysia while in Cambodia. Of course I went for seconds. Understandably, I skipped the dessert.

For drinks I took iced Teh Tarik (pulled milk-tea). It was okay only as the ice had diluted the tea somewhat. So it would be better to take the tea hot.
They also serve coffee, carbonated drinks, mineral water.

The place is of average size, with seating arrangements for groups of four  or up to eight pax. On busier days additional fold-able tables are placed on to the covered porch. Other than the buffet lunch, one can order fried noodle, fried rice ala carte.

Suhamie has lived up to his promise and offering a place for resident & visiting Malaysians, locals, and other tourists a friendly place with good food to remind them of home.

Address:  No. 65, Street 118, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Tel: (0855)097-612-8476
Email : 

Cost : 
USD 4-00 : for Buffet Rice Set per pax
USD 0-90 : Ice Milk Tea

Cafe Malaya Location Map (Google Map Link)
Review / Rating :
Overall Rating : 7.25/10
Recommendation : Good Food, Good Value & To meet friends too.
1. Taste :  
(Rated 37/50) - Good Malay curries complemented by "ulam" salad & unique Malay dessert.

2. Location : 
(Rated 7.5/10) - Located just adjacent to the Phsar Thmei (New Central Market), and within walking distance from nearby hotels. Some parking is available at front of shop.

3. Cleanliness : 
(Rated 7.5/10) - Clean floors, tables and overall nice ambiance.

4. Service: 
(Rated 7/10) - Self-service for buffet set. Ala carte delivered quite fast.

5. Presentation : 
(Rated 6/10) - Average as food is served buffet style.

6. Value For Money : 
(Rated 7.5/10) - Very reasonable by Cambodian standard considering one can eat as much as one can.

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