I am going to be completely honest. When I first arrived in Siem Reap, after a bumpy ride in a tuk tuk from the airport, I wandered why I had decided to spend 3 nights here. We were here to explore Angkor Wat, but my first impressions of Siem Reap weren’t great.
I had specifically booked a hotel that was close to Pub Street because we only had two full days and I wanted it to be easy for us to walk out for food and find everything we need. But when we drove through the surrounding area and towards our hotel I realised I had perhaps made a mistake!
Siem Reap is backpacker central and Pub Street is definitely not my cup of tea. I felt like I was back in Kuta. For those that have been to Bali you will know what I mean, for those that haven’t think of a Southeast Asian version of Malia in Greece.
I am very happy to say my first impressions were wrong and there is so so much more to Siem Reap than Pub Street.
I will be sharing our itinerary for 3 nights in Siem Reap in another post but today I am talking all about food!
If you step away from the bustle of Pub Street there are some great places to eat in Siem Reap. There are lots of lovely little cafes and restaurants, many serving more western or fusion dishes dishes but there is also great local food too.
Where to Eat in Siem Reap
KHMER TOUCH CUISINE
I am starting with my favourite restaurant first, so good in fact we ate there twice! After a little search on google and read of Tripadvisor (where I start most of my food research when on holiday) I discovered Khmer Touch Cuisine. Ranked at 13 for restaurants in Siem Reap and the fact it was minutes from our hotel it was chosen for our first night of food!
The restaurant describes itself as combining a contemporary interior design in their spacious new restaurant with recipes that are handed down from mother to daughter. This sums it up perfectly. The space is clean and airy (amazing for the heat of Cambodia!) whilst still feeling cosy and comfortable. And the food was utterly delicious both times we ate there. Their recipes have certainly been perfected.
The menu is small – which you know I love. But it was still a hard decision when deciding what to order as everything sounded great.
When I saw Green Mango Salad with Grilled Fish, Roasted Peanut and Palm Sugar Dressing I instantly ordered it. I love the salty, sweet and sour salads of this part of the world. Food is Cambodia is not spicy like Thai food, it is more aromatic and warming. This tangy salad did not disappoint.
I really like fresh spring rolls especially when it’s so hot (and Cambodia is HOT) so we ordered the Pork and Prawn Spring Rolls with Fresh Herb and Peanut Sauce. They were light and full of fresh herbs, really lovely.
We asked the waitress what we should order and she instantly suggested the Fish amok with Nho Leaves, Curry Paste, Kompot Fish Sauce and Coconut Milk. It was absolutely delicious. A showcase for the aromatic spices of the region and perfectly balanced.
A slightly different dish was the Wok Fried Beef with Crush Pepper, Spring Onion and Lime Pepper Sauce (Lok Lak). This reminded me of a beef in black bean style dish, but it was tangy and the lime kept it tasting light and fresh.
The second time we dined here we were only stopping for a quick bite to eat before heading to the Circus (more on that in another post!) so we ordered the beef again and the Grilled Sea Bass with Three Sauces (Green Mango, Roasted Tomato, Tamarind). Three big juicy pieces of fish with a lovely crisp skin were served with the sauces. We especially enjoyed the Tamarind sauce.
I’ve gushed enough now, but the food really was great. Oh and it’s incredibly good value! Also, one night we went dined it was full, the other it was almost empty. Don’t let this put you off – if you are deciding where to eat in Siem Reap make sure your make a trip to Khmer Touch Cuisine. You won’t regret it!
Khmer Touch Cuisine: Sivutha Boulevard, Old Market Area, Siem Reap.
So The Sun is on the corner of Pub Street, but it feels very different from the rest of the area. It’s got a chic, casual feel about it and best of all it is kept nice and clean. If you venture to other places you soon realise how rare it is to find a clean toilet! It definitely had a colonial feel about it too.
We bagged a seat outside so we could sit with our beers and people watch for a bit before ordering our food. The menu is a mix of international and local dishes. We felt like a little break from local food and decided on pizzas.
We kept it super simple and ordered margheritas. It was so nice to have a change in flavours. The pizzas were good, I like mine a little more cooked on the base but all in all a good pizza and it’s the perfect spot to watch the hustle and bustle. The cocktail list looked great and they have a happy hour so it’s a good choice for somewhere to eat in Siem Reap.
The Sun: Street 11, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
This cafe has a definite European feel to it: very airy, modern and bright inside with beautiful exposed brick work.
We were just stopping for a quick lunch and again managed to get a table outside so we could people watch. I just love people watching! Cafe Central has a very mixed menu with many European dishes and asian fusion dishes. D ordered a chicken burger and I went for flat bread with mezze which consisted of a baba ganoush style dip, hummus, olives and tabbouleh.
The burger was made of minced chicken, not a fillet and had asian spices running through it. Very tasty indeed.
The mezze was very good too. I was starting to miss olives so that was a treat and the dips were made well with lots of garlic – I made sure to scoop all of it up!
Also if you’re looking for breakfast in Siem Reap definitely make a trip to Cafe Central – the breakfast menu here looks very good.
Cafe Central: Street 11, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Olive Cuisine de Saison
When I was doing restaurant research on the first night via Tripadvisor I came across Olive Cuisine de Saison. Ranked number 8, this French restaurant is a small, cosy spot with tables covered in white linen.
When we looked at the menu we wanted to order it all – you knew whatever you ordered here it would be good. After much deliberation we decided we would share every dish in order to try as much as possible!
We started with the tuna and avocado tartar. Just look how big the portion was! The diced tuna and avocado was beautifully piled high. I liked the addition of capers, the saltiness cut through the richness of the rest of the ingredients.
I was craving salad by this point in our trip and there are a whole host of delicious sounding salads on the menu but in the end we opted for the roasted duck breast salad with mango and orange. The duck was served pink and lovely and tender and the mango balanced out the acidity of the orange. A great salad!
We were very impressed with the starters but the rest of the food may have been even better!
The pan seared salmon steak with Teriyaki foam, Wasabi mashed green peas and root vegetable was the first choice. The meaty fish went well with spiced peas and sweet Teriyaki. A really tasty dish.
But the winner was definitely the seafood pasta with shrimp bisque sauce, fresh spinach and cherry tomatoes. The flavour was so deep and rich and unbelievably moreish! The flavour packed into this dish was incredible – I wanted to lick the plate clean!
We were too full for dessert so instead just finished off our wine and enjoyed looking out to the quiet street.
The food and ambiance at Olive Cuisine de Saison is very french and lovely. You can see the care and passion of the owner who makes the effort to talk to every table all through the night. This is a special spot and it was nice to dress up for our meal here.
Check out Laundry Bar just moments around the corner on Street 9, they have lots of live music there, just check their event list. We ended up making friends whilst playing pool and stayed for hours – my head did not thank me when our 6am alarm went off for our flight to Bangkok!
Olive Cuisine de Saison: Street 9, Krong Siem Reap
All in all I feel we only touched the surface of what Siem Reap has to offer. And I really must remember not to judge a book by it’s cover. I hope this list helps when you’re deciding where to eat in Siem Reap. There are beautiful spots of Siem Reap with great food, you just need to explore to find them.
Have you been to Siem Reap before? Where were your favourite restaurants to eat in?