Pick of the munch
A legion of chefs, food adventurers, restaurateurs, and wine-buffs have made their home here, bringing with them the flavours of their country, whether they’re Khmer, French, Italian, American or Belgian.
Temple trekking can be thirsty business … and with all that energy you’ll have used you’ll no doubt be just a little hungry too, especially if you didn’t start off properly with the most important meal of the day before you hit the Angkor Archeological Park. Fortunately Siem reap has all angles covered with some of the best variety of restaurants, cafes, snack bars, and anywhere else you could think of to get a decent meal in the region. From street food to air-con, platic seats to reclining beds, you most definitely will not go hungry.
We’re going to start with burgers, because we’ve seen internet wars break out over which are the best in town. Burger Gourmand on Sok San Road is what happens when the French get their hands on something as simple as a meat sandwich. Using homemade buns, they make them with beef, as you’d expect, but they also make them with duck, and lamb, and chicken, and pork, and for a rather unbeatable flourish, with foie gras. You can’t top that… unless, of course, you’re adding the caramelised shallots. Their French fries are top notch too.
Situated in an old colonial-style building in the historic city centre, Hard Rock Café is your best stop for classic American cuisine, such as their famous Nachos, Fajitas and hot-fudge brownie and accompanied with live performance by the in-house rock band. Menu favourites include the Original Legendary Burger, the Jumbo Combo, and the Cobb salad. World famous Rock n’ roll memorabilia adorn the walls, such as Madonna’s hat, Elvis Presley’s belt, and Tom Petty’s shirt.
At The Village Cafe you can enjoy their delicious and varied selection of dishes such as pan-fried salmon with lemon drizzle, Australian grass fed rib-eye steak & fries, soups, salads, pastas, and decadent desserts. Along with the delightful food on offer, guests can browse the art gallery upstairs, or go for outdoor seating to enjoy the views of temple town.
L’Annexe on Sok San Road is a French fine dining restaurant with gloriously informal elegance. Enjoy classics such as boeuf bourguignon, foie gras, carré d’agneau or Charolaise ribeye either in the intimate interior or relaxing outdoor garden. Chef Aziz also creates spectacular desserts, such as their best-selling Black Pearl, a spherical frozen soufflé and sorbet encased in chocolate.
At the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa, the restaurant Le Connaisseur serves up traditional French cuisine on a Spoilt for choice Dining L’Annexe unique terrace that overlooks the Royal Garden. Their philosophy can be defined by three essential values: quality, passion and ethics. They select all ingredients and suppliers with great care, following the rhythm of the seasons, and the creativity of their Chef is revealed in à la carte dishes, directly inspired by the traditional recipes and savoir-faire of the French gastronomy. They are also deeply concerned by the print and impact they leave on the environment, and work as much as they can with organic and local producers.
A five-star feast is also available at Circle, the new restaurant of the recently renovated Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor hotel on Achar Sva St. Gorge on stunning Khmer dishes via their all-you-can-eat hawker-style buffet, with free-flowing beer, wine and soft drinks.
Olive, Cuisine de Saison is a French Mediterranean restaurant that serves up a fresh, seasonal menu with flavours from the south that often have a lighter touch. This is where you’ll find a melted Gorgonzola salad with watermelon, thyme and orange supreme, or a fine-crust tomato that comes with French basil and pesto, or perhaps a roasted Cornish game hen with tarragon and baby thyme potatoes.
Blue Pumpkin started out as a family business in Siem Reap, but has since sprouted numerous outlets across town and further afield. It can’t decide if it’s a French bakery, a patisserie, a restaurant, or an ice cream parlour, so it’s all of them, with signature white sofa beds to recline and dine on.
After 9 and 6 years of operations respectively, Little Italy and Creperie Bretonne have joined together to create Crep’Italy. Their menu has a huge selection of meat and fish dishes, pizzas from their wood-fired oven, homemade pastas, and imported Italian cuts, along with French galettes and crepes, celebrating the French region of Brittany’s most famous treat in sweet and savoury form.
Belgium gets a look in as well in Siem Reap with Le Bel Air, tucked down near the end of Street 26. This place is more than worth the journey – it is, after all, only five minutes from Pub Street – not just for the collection of 31 (yes 31!) Belgian beers, but also their menu of Belgian food including Liège Meatballs with Belgian fries, homemade Flemish stew cooked with Leffe beer, and the pièce de résistance, snail and truffle ravioli.
New establishment Bibi Belgian Snack, with its inexpensive and excellent drinks, tasty snacks and delicious food, also allows you to discover the typical warm and welcoming atmosphere of Belgium. Their extensive menu offers brussels waffles, nuggetspeculoos, mini liege meatballs and several types of croquette such as parmesan, goat cheese, truffle and shrimp, and of course the ever-popular Belgian fries.
Meanwhile, the Italians are also ably accounted for at Il Forno just off Pub Street. The cosy restaurant dishes up fresh, homemade pasta, wood-fired pizzas, cold cuts, mains, cheeseboards, and weekly-changing specials, as well as a range of desserts including a mouthwatering tira misu. This place aims to charm and will leave you yearning for more; so like an Italian.
Celebrating the most famous Italian export of all, The Pizza Company, on Street Pokambor, brings you a huge selection of American-style pizzas, with the possibility of choosing your base. You also have a choice of pastas, salads, appetizers and fresh drinks.
Over to the Indian subcontinent now for some mouth-watering, hunger-busting meals. The Indian and Vannakan are next door to each other on Thnou St., both offering traditional Indian cuisine brilliantly priced and magically spiced (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves). We’re especially huge fans of the gigantic garlic nans that will keep any cold at bay for about a year.
At Veg G Table you’ll enjoy peace, tranquillity and the funkiest vegetarian food in town with full flavoured salads, wraps, and delicious homemade cakes.
Diners with a conscience have a range of options in Siem Reap, and unlike the 70s, just because it’s virtuous, that doesn’t mean it has to taste like straw bedding. The original was Sala Baï, a hospitality training school that has helped more than 1,200 disadvantaged young Cambodians find their way to new skills and new lives. And we’ve seen evidence that it really works. Their restaurant, near Wat Svay on the way to Chong Kneas, serves up twice-weekly changing set menus and a la carte dishes that wouldn’t look amiss in a smart restaurant in any destination.
Haven moved to a new property just five minutes out of town, but nothing else has changed in this place that trains 12-15 students a year. Their menu of Khmer, international and Swiss food draws rave reviews, and every single one of them is well earned from a garden restaurant with a whole lot of heart.
Heading north a few blocks, on Street 25 is Butterflies Garden Restaurant, set in a stunning traditional wooden house. With 20% of profits given to staff and 10% donated annually to local charities, you can treat yourself with some excellent Asian dishes such as fried crab with Kampot pepper and grilled red tilapia fish with salt, or some Western mains like steak and chips. Try to spot some butterflies in the garden too.
Going further north along Wat Bo Road, away from the city, Marum also has a smart garden and beautiful wooden villa from which to serve the inspired creations cooked up in the open-plan kitchen. This is Khmer fusion tapas, which sounds complicated but is delicious, and allows you to size your meal according to how hungry you are.
Indulge in contemporary Cambodian dishes inspired by traditional Khmer recipes at Bakong, a newly-opened eatery founded by Cambodian owner, Ms. Kosom Ouk. Their signature dishes include Khmer Noodle Siem Reap Style, Wild Banana Beef Salad, and Prawn Chilli with Cucumber Relish. Along with the expertly crafted savory menu, they also offer a delicate range Khmer desserts to keep you sweet.
Grill your own feast, Cambodian-style, at either of Original Khmer BBQ‘s two locations in town. You simply order plates of uncooked meats, seafood and vegetables, and place the items on your table’s “Phnom Pleung”, like a cross between a BBQ grill and a hot pot.
The Kitchen (formerly Charcoal) also offers a discovery tour of Khmer cuisine with set menus for two featuring numerous exquisite dishes to sample and share. Their signature dish, L’ Entrecote Café de Paris Secret Sauce, is designed for dining pairs too, and comes with a free bottle of house wine.
Contemporary Cambodian cuisine and western food in a unique environment for a sophisticated lunch or dinner can be found at HUNKAAR Table & Lounge, the vibrant restaurant of the stunning, recently opened Anjali by Syphon Hotel. It unifies Asian and western cuisine in a unique verdant environment, and it’s an ideal place to discover new flavors and aromas. Each morning their team seeks out fresh produce as seasonal fruits and vegetables are to be found in the heart of each dish. With a carefully selected menu, delicious dishes artfully presented will trigger guests’ taste buds and all of their senses. It’s a complete experience: sensational mix of textures, spices and harmony.
If you’re looking for a healthier approach to life, you should head to Artillery, who play host to community art projects, food classes, wellness events and detox programs. Their plant-based, lifestyle-focused menu of light (and some hearty) meals is designed to appease vegetarians, vegans, celiacs, paleo dieters, as well as absolutely none of the above, with delicious flavours that seriously fill you up. It brings together their knowledge of vegetarian, vegan and raw food into quirky and satisfying meals, with the open courtyard and light, breezy interior perfect the mood here.
The King’s Road Angkor Village complex is home to a range of bars, restaurants, and galleries. Here you’ll find Embassy, a restaurant with bold splashes of colour and a bolder approach to Khmer flavours. The chefs here, the famed Two Kimsans, create inspired Khmer fusion set menus. So seize the opportunity to enjoy Cambodian food in a fashionable setting. Nearby, The Grey also lets you experience Khmer gastronomy with their “Phnom Pleung” grill-it-yourself tabletop BBQs.
Chi Restaurant serves up innovative Khmer and pan-Asian cuisine incorporating the freshest organic produce from morning markets and small farms. Signature dishes include Braised Lamb Shank Curry Saraman and Royal Seafood Amok, comprising squid, tiger prawns, Khmer spices and coconut milk. Enjoy lilting accompaniment from bossa nova jazz musician as you dine on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
Green-Go Garden have thought of everything to create a sanctuary-like space in which to relax while being active. After sundown, the garden lounge comes to life with Cambodian craft beers on tap and organic wines alongside its fusion Mediterranean menu with a touch of Khmer cuisine. Signature dishes include creative plates like the Mediterranean Pepperoni & Cream puff filled with tofu paste and sweet caramel.
The Republic Bar & Kitchen was founded by a group of friends from Trinidad & Tobago, and USA. This garden oasis has been recognised as one of the best chill out spots in Siem Reap. You’ll go for breakfast and stay until evening! They serve up a variety of delicious dishes inspired by South American flavours. Smaller Green-Go Garden bites on offer via the tapas menu include the must try pulled pork sliders, pot stickers, and sweet potato fries. For a bigger eat you can choose Mango Chicken, Chilli Con Carne, and their Pulled Pork Platter amongst others.
Is there a better way to combat Siem Reap’s sizzling heat than with a refreshing Italian gelato? We don’t think so, and neither do the many avid followers that Gelato Lab has garnered. This authentic gelato and sorbet parlour uses top-notch ingredients and a gleaming Cattabrigga Effe 6 – for many the Ferrari of gelato machines – in producing their irresistible frozen creations. One of their most tantalizing flavours is the ‘Cioccolato al Pepe di Kampot’, made with organic black chocolate and Kampot pepper.