frizz, Cambodia’s only Dutch-owned (and capitalization-free) Khmer restaurant is located on the strip of restaurants that I tend to avoid: Phnom Penh’s riverfront. I don’t avoid them because they’re at all bad or even targeted at tourists. I just seem to have fallen prey to the habit of eating inland and then heading riverwards for a digestif. As hot season approaches, so does the urge to chase the riverfront breeze. frizz is notable amongst the Tonle Sap-facing properties for both serving Khmer cuisine and for having Khmer vegetarian options on the menu.
On ordering, the waiter kindly informed me that the fish amok ($4) would take twenty minutes to be made fresh, which gave me ample time to have my sneakers appraised as dirty by the local bootlicks, buy a newspaper, be harassed by the limbless and destitute, and try on some sunglasses from the passing vendors. We engaged in a lively discussion on whether scraping the bottom of the barrel and atomising the market counts as entrepreneurialism.
The amok was topped with a huge slug of coconut cream beneath which lurked a large portion of fresh snakehead fish fillet and a chilli-heavy spice paste. None of the essential slok ngor leaf to be seen but a decent mousseline consistency. A previous amok from frizz had been steamed solid into a circular puck of curry and turned out onto the plate, thus bearing an unfortunate resemblance to an inverted can of coconut-flavoured Whiskas (“Gives his coat that Cambodian shine!”) but this version was nowhere to be seen.
Owner Frits Mulder also runs a day-long Khmer cooking class presided over by one of his staff, which is well worth it for food tourists and expats alike because it is the only Khmer cooking class in town. I took the class over two years ago and enjoyed it, more for the opportunity to bone up on my local herb knowledge on the morning market tour rather than the cooking itself.
Location: 335 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh.