18 Victor Square | Scotts Valley | CA | 831.438.5005
To ensure that his restaurant closely resembled its Silicon Valley inspiration, Revino hired the owner of Chez Sovan to be his consultant, set up his menu and train his chefs, Channy Plong, Chia H. Lam and Neng Pov — all authentic Cambodian chefs.
Of the 50 items on Chez Sovan’s menu, 20 found their way to Jia Tella’s. Tweaks include offering brown rice and making all sauces vegetarian-based.
To gain some understanding
of Cambodian cooking, it has
to be seen in the context of the country's history. In the 6th century, Cambodia was
a kingdom with an Indian- inspired culture, situated
on the delta and along the middle reaches of the Mekong river. Until 1432, Cambodia progressively expanded its borders, taking in present-day Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Vietnam, but in the 18th century the Vietnamese began to colonize the delta and this territory became a battleground between Vietnam and the former Siam.
It was during the course of these historical events that Cambodian cuisine adopted numerous elements of Chinese and Vietnamese cooking.
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.
Cambodians eat a lot of fish, caught in the waters of Tonle Sap. Grilled fish
is a local specialty. Most often fish in cut up into pieces, rolled in a lettuce or spinach leaf and dipped into fish sauce. Cambodian salads, flavored with cilantro, mint leaves and lemon thyme, are delicious. The French influence can be found in the bread, roasted turtle and frog’s legs which are sold in the markets. Desserts include sticky rice cakes and pudding. Rice noodles (khao phoune) are sold on every street corner.
Seventy percent of cultivated land is devoted to rice growing. Here rice is served barely cooked, not swollen, and still crunchy. Skewers of meat or fish, spring rolls and rice are accompanied by nuoc mam (fish sauce) diluted with water and seasoned with chopped red chilies.
There is also a more substantial sauce made up of nuoc mam mixed with equal parts water and lemon juice to which shredded carrot or raw turnip is added.
The most common kind of skewer or brochette is “golden sapek,” small pieces of pork tenderloin alternated with strips of pork fat and rounds of Chinese sausage which are cooked on a grill over hot coals.
Water or tea are the usual beverages, though you will also find palm wine, choum (a rice-based spirit) and a locally-made brandy. Cambodians usually drink beer with their meals. The local beer (Angkor) is quite decent. The most popular Khmer drink is seltzer water with a squeeze of lemon.
Here, no toast, no muffin for breakfast: Pork or fish various rice soups, pork or beef noodles soups, sweet beef soup served with bread, coffee, milk or lemon tea!