Cambodian cooking boasts a fusion of strong and vibrant flavours and is much milder than its neighbours, ensuring each dish contains the perfect blend of salty, sour, sweet and bitter flavours.
Many of the dishes draw inspiration from China and India, with the Chinese leaving the legacy of stir-frying and the Indians introducing dried spices like star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg and fennel.
Cambodia has a rich network of rivers and the ocean in the south, offering a plentiful supply of fish, which is a popular addition to the plates of Khmers. Prahok, a fermented fish paste, is another staple that gives Cambodian cuisine its unique flavour. Fish is a popular ingredient, while prahok, a fermented fish paste, is another staple that gives the cuisine its unique flavour.
Khmer snacks includes a variety of insects, as you’ll discover at Bugs Café, Siem Reap’s first and only specialists in insect-based cuisine. Will you be adventurous enough to try crickets, tarantulas, silk worms, and a variety of other creepy crawlys cooked with a surprising amount of flavour?!
No visit to Cambodia would be complete without tasting fish amok – steamed, coconut curried fish coated in “kroeung” spice paste and cooked in a container made from banana leaves. Lok lak is another signature dish made with cubed beef and garnished with a lime and pepper dip.
One restaurant that sets out to truly reflect the ethos of Cambodian cooking is Cuisine Wat Damnak, which offers a choice of two set menus (five courses for $27 or six courses for $31) that will make your taste buds dance for joy.
For authentic Khmer cuisine at reasonable prices, try The Sugar Palm. Located on Street 27 opposite Pannasastra University, their menu covers all the Khmer hit dishes, from curries to satays, soups to salads.
Khmer Gourmet offers you a choice of real traditional Khmer dishes, from their a la carte or degustation menus. It’s located in the quiet pedestrian area
of Alley West.
Also in the Wat Bo area, Viroth’s is one of the longest established Khmer midmarket dining establishments, with it’s well-prepared plates served in a stylish, modern setting.
Cambodian food is mostly about using fresh vegetables and herbs, and expensive meat and fish are added sparingly, making it perfect to adapt for vegetarians. Chamkar on The Passage and its newer branch on Airport Road do an excellent job of preparing veggie dishes. Champey serves up marvellous meals in a beautifully designed restaurant that evokes a gentle, old world charm.
The Kitchen offers a discovery tour of Khmer cuisine with set menus for two featuring numerous exquisite dishes to sample and share.
HUNKAAR Table & Lounge also boasts some delectable contemporary Khmer fusion creations – the ideal place to discover new flavours and aromas. Enjoy a sophisticated lunch or dinner in a bright, vibrant space including a terrace overlooking the stunning swimming pool.
The unique Madame Butterfly offers the best of authentic Cambodian cuisine mixed with Thai and Chinese influences, while pampering guests in a cosy traditional wooden house surrounded by lush tropical gardens.
Chi Restaurant serves up innovative Khmer and pan-Asian cuisine. Early risers can enjoy a sunrise breakfast, while couples can savour the intimacy of their Dining by Design. Signature dishes include Braised Lamb Shank Curry Saraman and Royal Seafood Amok, comprising squid, tiger prawns, Khmer spices and coconut milk.
Why not take time to indulge in contemporary Cambodian dishes inspired by traditional Khmer recipes at Bakong Restaurant. Their signature dishes include Khmer Noodle Siem Reap Style, Wild Banana Beef Salad, and Prawn Chilli with Cucumber Relish.