Following in the footsteps of Low & Slow American BBQ and Burger Theory, Phat Buddha Rolls is the latest of Adelaide’s food trucks to be converted into ‘bricks and mortar’ in the form of Tmor Koul Cambodian Kitchen. Tmor Koul’s wooden hut can be found in the beer garden at The Jade on Flinders Street in the CBD. Adelaide Food Central was lucky enough to be invited to the official launch of this new partnership between The Jade and Tmor Koul where we sampled some Cambodian-inspired street food.
The food for the evening was divided into two parts beginning with a cocktail food menu comprising three samplers followed by three main dish tastings; all served in mini bamboo ‘boats’ or cardboard boxes which was very fitting for the street food theme. The first of the cocktail foods to arrive were the Sait Jeam and BBQ Lemongrass Beef. The BBQ Lemongrass Beef was served with fresh mint and julienned carrot on a bed of vermicelli noodles and finished with a peanut and coconut cream dressing. The creaminess of the coconut complemented the refreshing mint leaves, whilst the meat was flavoursome and well cooked.
The Sait Jeam on the other hand consisted of lamb on a bed of greens and fresh mint accompanied with Prahok; a traditional Cambodian condiment made from crushed, salted and fermented fish paste. Again the meat was well cooked and surprisingly the mint brought all the elements together, whilst the Prahok wasn’t as fishy as I expected after researching how this accompaniment was traditionally made.
Next we sampled the Salmon Belly Amok, a culinary Cambodian tradition, served with steamed rice. Amok refers to the process of steam cooking a curry in banana leaves. This was one of my favourite dishes of the evening. The salmon had a mousse-like consistency and was perfectly matched with the coconut flavours of the curry. A touch of chilli added extra depth to the dish. What was noticeable was the subtle sweet flavour that the banana leaves imparted to the curry.
Part two of evening began with Plear Sait Gor and a Cambodian-fusion Cheeseburger. The Plear Sait Gor was a cured beef salad served with fresh bean sprouts and mint and a Cambodian dressing. Cambodian cuisine shares many commonalities with Thai and Vietnamese dishes and accordingly this dish was reminiscent of a Thai Beef Larb Salad and was another of my favourite dishes. The beef was thinly sliced and deliciously seasoned in its ‘secret’ Cambodian spices and teamed together with the crunchy bean sprouts and peanuts made for a very textural dish. The cooling mint and spicy chilli complemented each other well. Whilst the flavours of the Plear Sait Gor were quite intense, it was amazingly tasty! I could easily see myself eating copious amounts of this salad on a warm night, just like the night of the launch itself.
We really needed a palate cleanser between the Plear Sait Gor and the Cheeseburger, as the beef had such strong aromatic flavours compared to the burger, or perhaps we simply ate them in the wrong order. Having said this, the Angus beef patty with Cambodian spices was well cooked and still nice and pink in the middle. The burger roll itself was soft of the inside yet crunchy on the top and was layered with gherkins, cheese and lashing of Kewpie mayo and ketchup, although probably a little too much for a slider. The Cheeseburger was a perfect example of how Joel and Sokha have taken authentic Cambodian flavours and fused them together with Western culture. No pub fare is complete without a burger.
The final tasting was the Char Kreung Sait Mowan; a lemongrass chicken stir-fry with capsicum and onion. This dish packed quite a decent amount of heat which detracted somewhat from the more subtle lemongrass flavours of the chicken. This dish would have been much nicer served with steamed rice, which unfortunately had run out at this stage of the night.
Whilst Tmor Koul are still finding their feet in terms of feeding hordes of hungry customers, I have no doubt that this Cambodian street kitchen will become increasingly popular with bar goers at The Jade in the upcoming holiday season and beyond!
Adelaide Food Central would like to thank Tmor Koul, in particular Joel and Sokha, and The Jade for their kind hospitality. All food and drinks on the night were provided free of charge.
Words and Photos by Kelly Betterman
WHERE: 142-160 Flinders St, Adelaide