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Review: The Veranda, Kep

By: Charley Bolding-Smith Posted: March-02-2011 in
The Veranda restaurant at night
Charley Bolding-Smith

The Veranda is a high-end bungalow style resort on a quiet hillside location, just below Kep National Park. As soon as you enter the complex you’re aware of the class of the place. A stonework alley plunges dramatically through the resort and leads to a labyrinth of raised wooden platforms and walkways. It all feels very Greek Island – before Greece joined the Euro. Bungalows start at $40 and head north to $90. This is 5 Star luxury at 2 Star European prices. I’ve eaten at The Veranda restaurant several times, and never come away less than pleasurably satisfied. I was in Kep at the weekend, and wondered if the kitchen was still maintaining its superb quality.

The carte offers Western and Asian food as well as fresh seafood dishes and BBQ grill. A favourite I’ve eaten on previous visits appears (rather oddly, I think) in the Western section of the menu. This is the Pan Sired (sic) Pork Fillet with Tamarind Sauce, served with Yam Mash and Caramelised Papaya ($9). It’s sensationally good. However on the occasion of my latest visit ‘Western’ food wasn’t available, due to the Head Chef being away “for a few days”. A member of my party muttered darkly of rumours suggesting that the talented individual in question had departed the kitchen permanently. I cannot say – but it meant I had to find an alternative selection in a hurry. For no particular reason I went for the Deep Fried Pork Ribs with Garlic. The choice was felicitous because they were pretty much the acme of spare ribs: a nice balance of flavourful meat and rendered fat beneath a crunchy coat of salt, pepper and garlic. The serving was a good size too.

The other members of my party had mixed success. Tom Yam Soup ($9) was adjudged to be “rich and tomatoey, with lots of seafood”. I’ve eaten Tom Yam Soup at many places and find it’s one of those dishes you never get two identical versions of. For my taste this soup was a bit too rich in tomato, and not spicy enough. I don’t think it was as good as the Tom Yam Soup I had at the Crab Market the following night. Another Khmer selection, Sweet and Sour Fish ($8) didn’t find favour with anyone. There was nothing wrong with the fish but the sauce was overly sweet and cloying. The Fried Fish Fillet on Lemon with Lemongrass Sauce met with general muted approval.

For dessert I had coffee ice-cream, which tasted good but contained ice-crystals, meaning that it had either been incorrectly made or stored. Perhaps I’m carping, but at $2.50 a scoop the ice was felt just a little more sharply on the tongue.

What to say in conclusion about the meal? In truth, I was a little disappointed. The food lacked distinctiveness and finesse, being overall neither good nor bad, just deeply OK. That probably doesn’t matter in consideration of the superb and excellent value buffet breakfast ($6) or lunch – the heavily-loaded pizzas (starting at $8) are a big hit throughout the day. But when dining at The Veranda you expect something a bit special. Let’s hope the Head Chef returns to the kitchen soon.

Veranda Natural Resort
Kep Mountain Hillside Road
PO Box 9824
Kep
+855 (12) 888 619

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