Text: Philip Sinsheimer
Photo: Philip Sinsheimer, Cesare Zucca
Many foreign chefs seem to flock to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital and we were not going to miss going to the trendy and much talked about Tiger’s Eye, the latest restaurant of South African chef Timothy Bruyn.
Both lauded by personal and professional contacts, Cesare and I managed to get a table in this rather small and intimate, modern and quietly sophisticated venue. Let’s be honest, visiting a star chef restaurant is always a thrill and, unfortunately, often somewhat a disappointment? Is it because the expectation is too high? Or simply because the marketing generated by fame trumps the soul of the cuisine, as if the personality of the chef in the limelight overshadows the distinction of the plate. Well, in all honesty, this is NOT the case at the Tiger’s Eye.
Timothy is a truly passionate and involved young chef and he personally delivers each of his creations to the table with just enough explanation to satisfy the curiosity without giving a self-serving description of his genius idea. Young, handsome, humble… and talented, the fame is justified. He managed to achieve what is truly difficult: creating “fusion” dishes, using local ingredients and bringing them into a very personal, delicate highlight.
The eyes are ravished with the delicate balance and precision of the composition .
Cured fish first course, expertly cooked duck breast with red curry were clear salutes to khmer cuisine.
But the chef follows his love of fine food to wherever his heart goes. One thing remains constant, the attention to the sourcing of the products.
Timothy goes local whenever possible. He was kind enough to take me on a dazzling tour the next morning of two of his favorite markets knowing all ingredients and saluting the vendors he works with talking in Khmer .
His involvement in the local community is genuine and heartfelt. When he can’t find the quality he expects at his footstep, he’ll go a little further. The best mozzarella he found is made freshly in Siem Reap and the best oysters he found come from Vietnam.
Sensible fusion, not confusion.
For wines, his home country is well represented and we enjoyed a beautiful South African Chenin Blanc for the opening of our tasting menu. For the reds, I was wowed by the excellent and well priced Château Haut Saint brice, Saint Emilion Grand Cru which went so well with the duck. Hipsters will also appreciate the wide selection of beers.