Not many visitors to the Angkor Archaeological Park take the time to visit one of the very much lesser-known temple sites just off the road that links Angkor Wat to Srah Srang. Which is a shame, because Prasat Kravan — Cardamom Sanctuary in English — is the temple that inspired the designers of Malis restaurant in Siem Reap.
The five brick temple towers set on a raised dais date back to the 10th century, when they served as sanctuaries dedicated to the HIndu god VIshnu. Today, the structures are instantly recognisable for their clean, elegant lines and, even in a state of ruin, the sense of balance they create. The temple may be small, but there are few that can match its grace.
While we don’t hope to see how balanced Malis’ riverside home would look in a state of ruin, there’s no doubting its heritage. From the powerful geometrical lines, the strength of squares and rectangles that climb up towards the sky, a sense of awe starts to fill the visitor as they mount they steps up to the main building.
Once inside, a wide open area on two levels greets them, as does a huge statue of the Buddha. This space, whose stone walls and porticos are also directly inspired by the temples, serves many purposes. An open reception area con comfortably welcome up to 200 guests for a cocktail, it also serves as a chic lounge bar area, especially on evenings when we host live bands and DJs, and it also serves as a stylish dining space.
Turning left or right here brings the visitor into one of the wings that form the main dining areas. High stone walls are minimally decorated creating a sense of grandeur that doesn’t overwhelm; it possibly makes one sit up straighter in their seat though!
All about discrete touches of Khmer art and design add a splash of colour or perspective to the sense of refinement.
At the centre of it all, an open frangipani-scented courtyard garden provides an open green space that balances the stonework inside.
Designed by our own architect, Vivoath Yan, Malis is a bold vision that is resoundingly of its place. But we feel that it equally stands out on its own, unique and full of grace.