I’m not exactly the type of person you’d catch trying out unfamiliar food. Growing up, I made sure I stuck to ‘my usuals’ and veered away from dishes and cuisines that seemed to be strange to me. Sticking to my norm, pizza and pasta are the two kinds of food I’ve tried almost everywhere I’ve been!! But Faith, that sounds so boring! I know, I know. The very first time I decided to indulge in local cuisine while traveling was when I was in Prague and ever since then, I made it a point to be more adventurous when it comes to food.
For Cambodia though, I didn’t have to force myself to try out the local cuisine. Prior to the trip, I researched on must-try Khmer dishes and found them to be appetizing from the photos! So when we were there, I couldn’t help but take advantage of the don’t-care-about-what-I-gain-when-I-travel attitude. (Don’t we all have this mentality when we travel?!…or am I the only one with this fatty mentality? Haha!)
Here’s a little post consolidating all the restaurants we tried in Siem Reap plus the must-try dishes IMO:
1) Banteay Srei Cafe & Restaurant
Naturally, when you go to Siem Reap, you must visit the temples and Banteay Srei, although one of the farther temples, is considered to be one of the must-sees (more on this next time). Right after visiting Banteay Srei, our tour guide suggested that we have lunch in the restaurant within the area (walking distance). Since my cousin and I were absolutely tired from all the walking and sticky and sweaty from the heat, we decided not to go any further and just have lunch there.
We ordered the Chicken Amok. Going to Cambodia, everyone (all the blogs and people who’ve been there) will tell you that there is one local dish you must try and this is the amok.
Their vegetables are cooked very much like vegetables from our cuisine. This one was very tasty and the sauce was similar to chop suey.
2) Stueng Trorcheak Restaurant
This restaurant is located on the way back to the town from Beng Mealea, which was the farthest temple we visited and is less popular than the others but was actually my favorite (then again, more on this next time).Khmer cuisine can be very strange and although I was feeling adventurous, I could not bare to order the stir-fried frog! Instead, we stuck to their local noodles, which was just like the pancit canton back home.
We ordered Amok yet again, but this time it was the Fish Amok. This restaurant was creative and used the coconut shell for serving. Although this dish was also good, it lacked flavor compared to the one we ordered in Banteay Srei, which was still #1 on our list.
3) Khmer Kitchen Restaurant
Khmer Kitchen came up time and time again when I was researching on the must-try restaurants in Siem Reap, so I could not let this food-opportunity pass me by! We ordered Fresh Spring Rolls, which did not disappoint. The sauce was what made the dish even better, having strong flavors to boot!
And the search for best amok continues! We ordered Fish Amok again and since this was the third and last amok we tried, I’m ranking this one as the 2nd tastiest among the 3, making the one from Banteay Srei Bar & Restaurant the best amok I’ve tasted.
Ordering the Chicken Curry was not a mistake at all. Not as spicy as the typical curry, but still had strong and good flavors.
4) Khmer Barbeque
Originally, I didn’t want to spend much on food that night, but when I saw the poster when we were walking around Pub Street looking for a place to eat in, I could not resist. Being a HUGE FAN of Sambokojin, the thrill of grilling still seemed of great interest to me even when I was in Cambodia! For 8.75USD (expensive for a meal in Siem Reap), I got quite a lot.
Noodles5 Choices of Meat and I, of course, went with the safe choices:
Although they do give you the choice of Kangaroo, Ostrich, and other kinds of meat that just having the thought of it being on my plate made me queasy. They give you soup and a griller/boiler wherein you can cook the vegetables, noodles, and meat in.
I can say this is one of the best meals I’ve had to date!!
5) Blue Pumpkin A place where you can sit back and relax from all that temple-running, while having delicious ice cream, then this is where you should be.
All in all: If it’s not obvious already, I loved pretty much all the dishes we tried when we were in Cambodia and if by any chance, you find yourself planning for your trip to Siem Reap, I strongly recommend all those listed above, but if you’re pressed for time and can only go to the Pub Street area, DO NOT miss out on The Blue Pumpkin and Khmer Kitchen.