Khmer (Cambodian) Food (Siem Reap)
I just got back from Cambodia yesterday and I should do a long post after my last post two years ago! I was basically too busy with work and life.
Cambodia was really hot and humid, 99% of its people depend on tourists to survive. Tuk-tuks are everywhere waiting for that fateful someone to get on and eateries are everywhere too. Hygiene may pose a problem but as long as you use your experienced judgement, you shouldn’t get any upset tummy. Food are also priced very reasonably from USD1 (low-end) to USD14 (high-end).
We stayed in The Villa, Siem Reap, situated within walking distance to the Night Market, Central Market, Pub Street and to many of eateries all around. TripAdvisor’s Genevieve Restaurant, Haven Training Restaurant and Bugs Cafe are all nearby. If you are bored of Khmer food, there is KFC and Sarpino’s Pizza. It is a very convenient and comfortable budget place to stay in!
The most common food you will see on menus are Lok Lak, fried MaMa noodles, Amok, Khmer curry and ginger chicken. Cambodians use fish sauce as a main seasoning that makes every dish delicious. We had our first meal at a place near our hotel called Lilypop Restaurant.
Beef is both marinated and stir-fried in fragrant peppery sauces that is very appeitizing.
This stir-fried mee looked so plain but once you get started on it, you simply can’t stop! The noodles were surprisingly springy and full of flavour! It is a fusion of pepper, fish sauce and chilli sauce! I finished the whole plate and I must mention that this plate of mee cost only USD1.50!
On one of the evenings, we had our dinner at this well-acclaimed The Sugar Palm restaurant. Nice ambience but food was over-rated.
This ginger fish was taken at Fusion Kitchen (part of Soria Moria Boutique Hotel) along Wat Bo Road. We were there on a Thursday and happened to be “Oh My Buddha” day. So every food item was on 50% discount and drinks were one for one. I really liked the ginger and fish. It was much better than the ginger with chicken I ate at Sugar Palm.
Address: Soria Moria Boutique Hotel, Wat Bo Road, Salakamrouk, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Fried, baked or charcoal-grilled chicken are also common on the menu. The chicken meat is tougher because they are reared locally and chickens run around the residents’ houses. You will find that the chickens have little fats. We really prefer this texture and the meat is more flavourful too. The chickens are usually marinated with lemongrass and ginger.
Before I arrived in Cambodia, my friend has been telling me to eat tarantulas!! We chanced upon Bugs Cafe outside our hotel. Wanting to fused culturally, we stepped in and ordered the Mixed Insects (tarantula, scorpion, giant waterbug, crickets and silkworms wok-fried in chilli). OMG, it was an experience of my lifetime! And ONCE is ENOUGH!
On our way taking the tuk-tuk 70 km out of Siem Reap, we saw many villagers selling bamboo sticky rice. So Daddy bought one and tried. It is made of glutinous rice, red bean, coconut and some sugar, cooked over heat for 20 minutes.
TripAdvisor recommended this Genevieve’s Restaurant, quoting it has the best fish amok and many other Khmer dishes at a very affordable price. We went there two days in a row!
Address: Sok San Street, Siem Reap, Siem Reap 3058, Cambodia
We suggested the chef to make it much more spicy for us, as their original is said to be sweet. It turned out spicy enough for us and the tom yum tasted very authentic! A pity there was too little soup for the three of us to share.
Their freshwater fish – Red Fish, deep-fried and drenched on with sweet and sour sauce. The fish was very very meaty and well fried. A little muddy taste for those who are sensitive to it, otherwise, very delicious.
Every cube in that banana leaf wrap is fish. Not too sweet and not too coconut-ty. The fish had a good texture. What amazed me was the flavourful vegetables at the side.
Tenderloin beef was used in this beef dish cooked to the level of your choice. We had them medium and it turned out perfect. Garlic was the main garnishing and the side sauce was a mixture of black pepper, fish sauce and lime (I think). It was very appetizing.
The Khmer Fish Curry was also very good, not too spicy and with a little bit of sweetness.
Picture taken from Central Market showing where the locals eat. There wasn’t any foul smell from the wet market or smelly fumes from the cooking surprisingly. But we still did not want to put our stomachs to risk here.
We also saw crickets and grasshoppers being sold in markets. Do you dare to eat them?
We also bought some Jasmine Rice home. It was really cheap. USD0.80 for 1 kg.
That almost summed up all the food we have tried in our six days of stay in Siem Reap. Goodbye Siem Reap, and to all the dust and heat too.