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Best Restaurants and Cafés of Siem Reap, Cambodia
Honestly speaking, I am not a food expert but I hope to share with you the places that I dined, the food that I tried in Cambodia, specifically in Siem Reap. One thing to note is that Siem Reap’s attraction is not only the temples of Angkor, but also its food choices which seems to be aplenty.
This is the last out of my 3-part article which will be all about the food! If you missed my other two parts of the article, they can be found here:
Scenes of Siem Reap; which shows the different ambience and scenery of Siem Reap, both day and night, in the city and out of the city.
The Temples of Angkor; which tells the exciting story of our visit to the famous temples of Angkor such as Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Phrom and many more!
Before I proceed, let me introduce to you two very common dishes that is Cambodian that you must try; Fish Amok which is a curry dish which is prepared by steaming it in a banana leaf, and the Beef Lok Lak which is a stir-fried marinated beef usually accompanied by lettuce, cucumber and tomato with some house sauce. Basically, the easiest way for me to describe Cambodian cuisine would be; a merge of Thai and Vietnamese cuisines.
You might be interested to read the views of my food blogger friend Thanis’ here.
I have divided this article into two logical sections: RESTAURANTS and CAFES. ‘Restaurants’ in the context of this article refers to places where it would be suitable to have lunch or dinner whereas ‘cafes’ refers to places that are good for having a short rest from the heat of the day.
Please refer to these two maps for the locality of each place being mentioned:
Map: (Left) Detailed view of Siem Riep city’s main town proper. (Right) Location of places further from town. Orange Circles represents restaurants while Green Squares represents cafes.
In the maps above, the restaurants that we dined at are represented by the orange circles. Some of the restaurants are located just within the city limits, so they are just very short tuk-tuk rides which shouldn’t cost you more than USD 1.
1. Little Kroma (84 Wat Dam Nak Street)
Little Kroma is a very humble local coffee shop located at Wat Dam Nak Street, just behind the Wat Dam Nak Primary School.
Picture: (Left) A typical Coffee with Milk, quite thick and sweet compared to our normal Malaysian flavours. Nevertheless, it’s a nice change from the usual. (Right) Nom Pao (steamed pork buns) are also slightly different from the Chinese ‘Pao’ such that the bun’s texture is thicker and dense (personally I prefer our lighter chinese buns) but the fillings were generous with the pork meat, which had a little hint of black pepper. The generous fillings really won it for me.
2. Genevieve’s Restaurant (Sok San Street)
Genevieve’s Restaurant is located in town on Sok San Street which is not too far from the main Pub Street.
3. Mamma Shop (636 Hadgang Street)
Mamma Shop is an Italian restaurant located at Hadgang Street, just opposite of where my favourite café The Little Red Fox Espresso is also located. Mamma Shop is opened by an Italian who has settled down in Siem Reap with the aim of keeping the Italian food and culture alive and at the same time, giving back to the community by contributing to the lives of the less fortunate children.
4. The Square 24 (Street 24, Wat Bo Area)
The Square 24 is a fine dining restaurant that serves Khmer cuisine. They say first impressions always count, which is probably what the owners of this establishment was aiming for. The attention to details put into the whole setup and interior deco is just amazing. Vegetarians will be delighted to see that they have a special section in the menu just for them.
From the moment you walk in, the place gives out an ambience of class and style. The first word that came out of our mouths were ‘Wow’.
Picture: (left) Life-sized statues stands in the middle of the square litted by ever-changing neon coloured lights. (right) My Lime Breeze (Lime, Banana and Pineapple with grenadine syrup) nicely decorated with a purple bougainvillea flower.
Free appetizers before our main meal, elegantly presented.
5. Happy Special Pizza (2 Thnou Street)
Do a google on ‘the best pizza in Cambodia’ and you will be flooded with search results of ‘happy pizza’. Happy Pizza is what Cambodia is famous for. I know, I know, eating pizza is always a happy affair. However, the ‘happy pizza’ in Cambodia doesn’t refer to that kind of happy, but a ‘happy’ of another kind. These ‘happy pizzas’ are topped with ‘extra special seasoning leaves’ which can make you ‘high’, therefore happy! By law, these ‘leaves’ are of course illegal, therefore the menu in Happy Special Pizza are all for the normal pizzas. Just choose the pizza of your choice, and specifically tell them that you want the pizza to be a ‘happy’ one! Oh, and please make sure don’t have anything important planned for the rest of the day in case you get too ‘happy’.
(For obvious reasons, I’m not attaching a picture of the restaurant).
6. The Sugar Palm (Taphul Road)
The Sugar Palm Restaurant is another Khmer cuisine restaurant which serves their dishes with a modern twist. They actually have two branches in Cambodia; one in Phnom Penh which was their first branch since the 1970s and another in Siem Reap which was only opened in 2010 which features a very stylish and wooden themed dining area.
The exterior and interior of the restaurant are all wooden themed, including the tables and chairs and even the bar!
Picture: (left) Sombai, an infused local Cambodian liqour is displayed on a shelf available for purchase. (right) The trademark of Siem Reap and the restaurant is named after it; the Sugar Palm.
7. Kroya @ Shinta Mani (Oum Khun Street)
Shinta Mani is a prestigious upscale boutique hotel located in the heart of Siem Reap. Their fine-dining restaurant was given the name according to the meaning of food in the Khmer Royal language, which is a highly suitable reflection on the setup and ambience of the establishment.
8. Mie Café (Phum Treng Khum Street)
Mie Café is a fine dining gourmet cuisine restaurant which makes me wonder why they label themselves as a ‘café’ in the first place. It is located a bit out of the main town area, which is why we planned our dinner there to coincide with our attending of the play “The Smile of Angkor” (read more about this show in my previous article ‘The Scenes of Siem Reap’ here) which is located not far from there.
Mie Café is nested in a very traditional Khmer house with an outdoor patio and garden, which offers a refreshing place to enjoy our meal.
9. Cuisine Wat Damnak (Wat Damnak Market Street)
Cuisine Wat Damnak is located in an area called Wat Damnak, just a little further from the main town. This is a highly popular restaurant and we made our reservations a few weeks in advanced, even at that time, our initial preferred date was already unavailable and we had to select another date for our dining there. When making a reservation in a restaurant that is in the Asia Top 50 list, it’s not surprising to find an available date!
Apart from the many lovely restaurants in Siem Reap, there are also many very hipster cafes in town which has its own style and theme. However, you will notice one thing in common that most of these places offer; giving back to the community through donation and working closely with the non-profit organizations for the welfare of the local community. Many posters and pamphlets are available in their premises to raise awareness of the visitors.
A. The Little Red Fox (Hap Guan Street)
This is my favourite café among all the others in Siem Reap due to its variety of coffee drinks available which I really love. They serve the best latte in my opinion, and if you feel the need to excite your latte flavours, there’s also the Coconut & Cinnamon Mocha which I love really much! If that is still not exciting enough, they have the Espresso Martini which will blow your mind! It does not end here, other than the casual espresso brewed coffees, they do offer cold pressed coffees as well! Oh by the way, there is a popular hair salon located above the café which is run by the same owners.
B. Common Grounds Coffee (#719-721 Street 14)
Common Grounds Coffee is an American style café located at the end of the street from The Little Red Fox. The café is big enough to cater for plenty of people, and features a Internet Café on its upper level. This café also believes in giving back to the community by giving the locals a working chance and to create an income that helps to sustain the Children’s Home in Siem Reap. More impressively, Common Grounds serves as a vocational training center, teaching English and computer skills!
C. The Hive (#631 Psar Kandal Street)
This is another café located near to The Little Red Fox and Common Grounds Coffee. Using black steel, shiny floor tiles, modern art graffiti on the walls and yellow hanging lights, the place gives out a feel of modern and artistic ambience.
D. Sister Srey (Pokambor Avenue)
Sister Srey is located literally in the heart of the city (right next to the old market) where you would be able to watch people going about their everyday lives by just to sitting there, watching them go by. This café was opened by two sisters to not only to serve coffee, but also to support Khmer students by training them in hospitality, English language skills and personal development. They also have various incentives in place, to name a few, working alongside the Hearts to Harmony Foundation which supports the rural families.
E. Gelato Co (2 Thnou Street / Old Market Street)
Gelato Co is the best place to stop by to get a cone of ice cream while you continue your walk around pub street and market street. The summer heat in Siem Reap will definitely make this an irresistible place even if you accidentally walk by.
F. Blue Pumpkin (2 Thnou Street / Old Market Street)
Blue pumpkin is a french bakery which also serves Ice Cream. They a lot of branches in Cambodia and plenty of branches within Siem Reap itself. The best feature of this place is the very relaxing atmosphere at the first floor of the café. A long row of mattress with big cushions is there for anyone to just lounge on. I could literally fall asleep there after a long and tiring day at the temples.
As far as really local Cambodian, coffee shop style food, the only dish that I’ve managed to try is the Cambodian Noodle. I had the chance to taste this at the village near to Bantaey Srei.
Please take my article here as it is; it is not meant to be a full review on the food places. My friends and I were in Cambodia to see Angkor Wat and the other Angkor temples with our own eyes. Food was only a side pleasure while we were there. Please note also that we did not dine in the local coffee shops (except for one) mostly those proper classy restaurants, therefore I don’t have much to show in terms of the genuine cheap and simple local food around. Also, since I am a Malaysian (another food haven), most of my comments would be based on and comparative to our Malaysian flavours.
But don’t worry, if you get yourself a reliable tuk-tuk driver, they are always more than capable of recommending a local place for you. Please consider Shafie our tuk-tuk driver for the whole duration of our visit. He has proven to be very steadfast and his knowledge of Siem Reap, even the temples of Angkor is comparable to that of a tour guide.
I hope this guide is of help to you! Needless to say, although the variety of food in Cambodia cannot match those in Malaysia, I do find myself missing some of the dishes; namely the Fish Amok from The Sugar Palm, The Fried Rice from Little Kroma and the Coconut & Cinnamon Mocha from The Little Red Fox.
Above all else, I miss the feeling of wondering in the mystical temples of Angkor and discovering something new at every corner!