What makes Siem Reap town so compelling, along with its fabulous shops, cafés and bars, are its excellent restaurants – everything from traditional Khmer food in a casual setting to refined Cambodian cuisine served up in elegant surroundings.
Eating out in Siem Reap is a real delight. These are the eateries we consider to be some of the best restaurants and cafes in Siem Reap.
Eating Out in Siem Reap
Cuisine Wat Damnak
While some call the refined cuisine at chef Joannès Rivière and wife Carole’s lovely restaurant ‘Modern Cambodian’, with many dishes based on old recipes, albeit with contemporary presentation. It might also be the most sustainable. Joannès works closely with local producers and takes pride in using fresh, 100% local or regional produce including wild fish, free range eggs and locally farmed pork, much of which he buys himself at the market every day. Degustation menus that change weekly are the order of the day, and they’re terrific value, at US$22 for a 5-course or US$26 for a 6-course menu. We’ve eaten here regularly and every dish is always meticulously prepared, from the steamed maam with minced pork, herbs, flowers and local crudites to the braised beef cheek with palm sugar, star anise, pumpkin, and local cresson. The restaurant is in an old traditional timber stilted house that’s been given a very stylish makeover, however, while the food is refined this is no fine diner. The room has a casual elegance about it, the welcome by Carole is always warm, and the service is relaxed. Between Psa Dey Hoy market & Angkor High School, Wat Damnak village, Siem Reap; if your tuk-tuk driver can’t find it, just call +855 (0) 63 965 491, www.cuisinewatdamnak.com
Also set in a traditional Khmer wooden house with big breezy verandas, this is perhaps Siem Reap’s most romantic restaurant at night, although the atmosphere is laidback and friendly. The owner chef, Kethana, is a “Khmer-Kiwi”(she’s part Cambodian and part New Zealander) and the food is traditional Cambodian of the highest quality – tangy, crunchy pomelo salads, crispy spring rolls, rich fragrant curries, and the local specialty, an aromatic amok trey, a souffle-like curry that’s steamed in banana leaves. Fashion designer Eric Raisina says the prawn amok here is his favourite was one of the most memorable dishes to be had in Siem Reap. Taphul Road (backstreet, behind Hotel de la Paix), Siem Reap +855 (0) 63 964 838
If you’re looking for a light lunch, coffee or cold beer in the afternoon, Café Central is a terrific choice. Light and airy, the décor – concrete floors and mismatched retro furniture, from 1950s vinyl and chrome kitchen chairs to wooden benches – is a modern take on one of those grand old colonial-era cafés. The menu is just as eclectic, with everything from shepherd’s pie and fish and chips to burgers and quesadillas making an appearance. There’s cold beer on tap, reasonable wines by the glass, and decent coffee. Old Market, Siem Reap 855 12 175 6723