TIGER’S EYE: when passion for the local meets global artistry…

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.THE TIGER’S EYE
TEL 855 (0)17876382

Not to be missed: the one and only ELEPHANT BAR in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh by night: legendary Elephant Bar leads to other delights…

By Philip Sinsheimer
Photo. Cesare Zucca

The team of the Raffles Siem Reap, engaged us to pay a visit to a real jewel., located in their sister property in Phnom Penh, I am talking of the historic Elephant Bar,

a place that exudes the charm of old school luxury. Not only do the walls spoke of history but, the service evokes a tempo of another time, a pace where the demands of productivity are not part of the game. Not to say we waited a long time for our cocktails, we waited just the right time for it to be made to perfection!
The signature cocktail is the Femme Fatale,
created for Jacqueline Kennedy during her 1967 visit in Cambodia.


The bar boasts a selection of 54 hand-picked gins and among the most recent offerings you can pair your libation with a spoonful of Giaveri caviar from Italy for a very friendly $5.

We were hosted by the young French F&B manager of this legendary institution,
Thomas Bianco.


We hit it off immediately and Thomas offered to meet with me the next night for a night in town. What a treat! We met with his charming Cambodian wife and I got to experience the best true khmer cuisine at their favorite restaurant, Kravanh, located at 112 Samdach Sothearos Blvd,
Simple, yet lovely decor with soft lighting (pic below), great service, nice wines and yes, a real gastronomic adventure at an affordable price. The “phlear trey” traditional marinated raw fish salad tossed with a variety of fresh herbs was incredible, definitely one of the best dish of my entire stay in Cambodia.








The evening ended in a fun and lively bar, Chez Flo, located at 308 St 308, Phnom Penh, in the trendy Bassac lane area. Cocktails were impeccably executed by a young and hip bartender who really knew his stuff. Thomas had him create on the spot a cocktail combining ingredients I loved: bourbon, fresh lime and ginger juice, simple sugar and mint leaves. Shaken with egg white and served on the rocks with a splash of angustura bitters. What a treat! Thomas coined the name Tsin-Tsin for the cocktail in a heartbeat, combining the first letter of his first first name and the first 3 letters of my last name for an inviting chin-chin ring to it. It is now on the menu of the Elephant Bar, sealing in history the final touch of a night made of whimsy, fun and good taste.















Info for The Elephant Bar at Ruffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh  at

PHNOM PENH, luxury, comfort, gourmet food at the INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL

By Philip Sinsheimer, Cesare Zucca
Photos: Cesare Zucca

Cesare had planned it all and planned it well.
We arrived in Cambodia’s capital and enjoyed a 2-night stay at the Intercontinental a magnificent venue that isn’t in the touristic epicenter of Phnom Penh which would be close to the river, close to the Royal Palace, but actually it is rather central taking the city in its full scope. There are good things about staying at a hotel that is NOT particularly meant for tourists and that ISN’T in the touristic hub of town.


For one thing, your fellow hotel guests do not resemble your neighbors back home! That is a change right there that you will not get from checking in the most popular touristic TripAdvisor foreign based venues.                                  Grandiose lobby, courteous check-in, impeccable service and comfortable room with all amenities.  Not to mention, a 24 hours business center a well equipped Spa, and a surprising swimming pool with ‘elephant fountains’







What else do you want?

A good meal, well, that we had, check, check!



The breakfast experience was outstanding, even after having experienced some of the most lavish spreads in Southeast Asia in the previous weeks. Outstanding by the luxury of the ingredients used or the diversity of the offerings? That’s not the point. The striking element was actually constraint. Less can be more. It is an asset to know just how many things one can get right and serve at its best of freshness.


Talking of freshness and quality of service, I think the best thing was this open bar of fruit and vegetables that you could choose before seeing them juiced before your eyes. Yes, we had seen at other breakfast buffets a whole variety of fresh fruit juices, but what is more luxurious than “made to order”? I had become shortly before our long trip a quasi-addict of fresh ginger juice. Not a tea, but fresh ginger extraction with just enough water not to choke in public.
Well, to my surprise, my request for a full glass of ginger juice was met with no surprised eyebrow meaning “are you sure? You must be out of your mind!”, but with a smile and a reassuring “yes, Sir, of course! I will bring that to your table in a couple of minutes”.

Real class is treating a client’s unusual demands appear as total normal.












Our second noteworthy experience was the dinner we had at Xiang Palace the hotel’s gourmet Chinese restaurant.



Besides the comfort and poise of the room, pleasure came from the expertise showcased by the chef in what are two of the most testing and iconic elements of Cantonese gastronomy.
The feast began with a trio of masterly prepared dim sum bites with a medal of honor to the delicacy of the sea scallop one for the exquisite freshness of both the filling and the wrapping.






Then we got to taste perfectly roasted meats with a winning trio of duck, chicken and crispy pork.










Having the pleasure of tasting true foreign cuisine is in itself a sign that Phnom Penh Intercontinental has become also a world class cosmopolitan culinary destination.