Cambodian cuisine uses little fat and lots of fresh vegetables, fruits and seafood. This makes it one of the world's healthiest, most balanced and interesting cuisines.
Typically, Cambodians eat their meals with at least three or four separate dishes. Each individual dish will be either sweet, sour, salty or bitter. Chili is usually left up to the individual to add themselves. In this way Cambodians ensure that they get a bit of every flavor to satisfy their palates.
Cambodian cuisine is based on fish and rice, stewed meats accompanied by spicy vegetables, shrimp and seafood fritters. A Cambodian meal usually includes soup (samla), served at the same time as the other dishes.
From the Santa Cruz Sentinel August 1, 2007
Food for Thought: Giving new Jia Tella's a go
"Have you ever tried Cambodian food?" my neighbor Donna Bauer asked me. No, but I was willing to try it. So off we went to the new Jia Tella's in the Scotts Valley Junction shopping center. The following are my thoughts on the restaurant, but also read Sentinel restaurant critic Ann Parker's review in The Guide on Friday.
"I kind of worried that this place wouldn't survive," said Donna's husband Larry Fogelquist. "The location is hidden and nobody has heard of Cambodian cooking. You can find Thai all over the place, but not this"
However, when we arrived, the place was humming. Orders are taken at the counter, where the extensive menu is posted on the wall. Then everything is brought to your table — out in the sunny yard or indoors.
The décor is appetizing, with warm ochre walls, mahogany furnishings and lots of framed art. And the place is kid-friendly. Menu items are creative without being too exotic for mainstream tastes, and most are priced between $9 and $12. I ordered the tamarind rice noodles with baked tofu, bean sprouts and peanuts. A small size was plenty for me. The sauce was light and uncomplicated, with a good helping of tofu.
Donna had a dish that was a mixture of catfish, lemongrass, kaffir limes, eggs, collard greens and other good stuff wrapped and steamed in a banana leaf packet. Larry had stir-fried lemongrass with chicken, a dish that included onions, carrots, green beans, red chilies and peanuts. "It wakes up your mouth without going overboard with the spice," he said. Their son Spencer went for the mango salmon, a grilled filet topped with shredded green mango, while son Jack chose the barbecued boneless ribs marinated in shallots, garlic and honey oyster sauce.
But hold on. There was dessert. Larry selected the sticky mango rice. It was a nutty-textured rice pressed into a square cake, dressed with coconut milk and surrounded with fresh mango chunks. The rest of us ordered the banana fritters with gelato. "Oh, big mistake on your part," Larry declared. "This mango rice is awesome" Then after cleaning his plate, he ordered a dish of gelato.
Not everyone eats as much as Larry and the boys, but all three are jocks, so they work it off. I recommend that if you plan to order dessert, then make your entrée a small one. Otherwise you'll be unbuttoning your pants long before you leave the table.
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Making a bold entry onto the Scotts Valley diding scene is Jia Tella's, specializing in cuisine from Cambodia. Cambodian cuisine uses little fat and lots of fresh vegetables, fruits and seafood. This makes it one of the world's healthiest, most balanced and interesting cuisines.