Saturday, April 4, 2015

La Petite Mangue

Hey guys! A little while ago Facebook suggested me a page I might like : La Petite Mangue, a Cambodian restaurant located in le Plateau-Mont-Royal. I got curious so I actually liked their page and started browsing their website. And it got me even more curious!

I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon this actually authentic Cambodian restaurant right in the center of Montreal! No need to go to Laval or Saint-Laurent! I thought to myself it was a sign and it would a shame to not give it a try.

Only a few days after I had randomly discovered this place I saw they posted an offer on their Facebook page : one free appetizer with the purchase of two main meals, expiring on March 16th. I claimed the offer right away and told Phil to make himself free so we can go eat there. Besides, it was pretty much time for us to do some catch up.

When we got in a lovely Cambodian man greeted us and asked us if we wanted to sit by the window. He gave us two menus and served us water.

After looking through all the items (our minds have been made for days but we wanted to make sure) we ordered. Our host suggested the table d'hôte, which is basically our main course with a small soup and spring rolls of our choice, all for 18$. That's what we went for. Each time we pointed out at an item he would kindly answer our questions and give us excellent explanations of the meals.

Phil asked for a tom yum soup while I went for the Phnom Penh soup.

Though Phnom Penh soup is often made with rice noodles this one was made with rice, which, actually, is not a wrong way to do it, just a different way. The broths were very flavorful : we tasted the basil, the lemongrass, the coriander ... It was so good we would have asked for a second serving each.

For the appetizer we asked for fish cakes, or pahet. They're served on a bed of crispy vermicelli noodles and with a peanut, fish sauce, and lemongrass dipping sauce.

They were delicious. Even if they were fried they didn't feel greasy at all. They were crispy outside yet moist inside. And obviously the use of fresh ingredients and herbs can only do good when it comes to getting the right texture and the right flavors.

As part of the appetizers we also got spring rolls. I asked for the shrimp ones while Phil asked for the mango ones.

They are different from Vietnamese spring rolls as in they also contain minced carrots. Thai spring rolls are also very similar (though I have seen some that did not contain vermicelli at all, and they are served with fish sauce). The peanut sauce was very thick but it just the right amount. You know, like you always end up having too much spring roll and not enough sauce? Well in this case it's like they mastered the right ratio of spring roll to dipping sauce.

For our main courses, Phil asked for the caramelized pork, or kaw sach chrouk, and named Daddy's favorite on the menu. It's basically slow cooked sweet pork with bamboo shoots.

It contrasted a lot with the salty stuffs we had earlier but it was very good. The pork was juicy and tender, packed with flavor and goodness. This dish is often made with hard boiled eggs cooked with the pork, served whole or cut in halves. But honestly it was delicious just that way.

For my part I had the amok, or amok trey. It's fish bathed in a coconut and lemongrass broth.

Mine had a banana leaf at the bottom, which made a lovely presentation (in case you're not aware of this, banana leaves are often used for cooking but you can't eat them!). There was a lot of lemongrass, and even some kaffir leaves, giving the plate a strong citrus note. The fish was fried, crispy outside and soft and moist inside.

To digest a little bit we asked for some tea, and then decided to try a dessert. We went for the pumpkin and corn pudding, or borbor lapaov. We were already quite stuffed so we shared this coconut milk and tapioca pearls based dessert.

It was very sweet, much sweeter than what I'm used to when it comes to Asian desserts. We ate this slowly because it was good, sweet, and weird at the same time. I personally never had that one before, neither had Phil, so we were trying to figure out how we were feeling about this. I honestly thought it was good, but because none of us has a sweet tooth, we found this a little too sweet to our liking.

So would I recommend La Petite Mangue? Heck yeah, I do! Everything, from service, to presentation, to the flavors, and even the bill at the end make me want to go back for more. If you grew up eating traditional Cambodian food you might find this different from what you're used to because they modernized the recipes and really worked on the presentation. I think what they did is great, because they kept the essence of Cambodian food and gave it a twist without making too much of a bold move.

Honestly I think you should give this place a try, whether you have had Cambodian food before or want to try this exotic cuisine full of contrasts and bold flavors.

Until next time!

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