Saigon and Siem Reap--any favorites?
I'm headed to Saigon for 5 days and Siem Reap for 4--any suggestions? I'll be in Saigon for New Year's Eve as well as for my father-in-law's 60th birthday, so would love any ideas about where to go for both of those events. Let me know where I should go to splurge and where to go not to.
Hi- I was just in SR for 4 days. I wish I had a fantasic place to recommend, but I found the food there to be fairly average.
I stayed at the Victoria Angkor hotel menioned in the post above. They have a nice high end French restaurant (with foie gras on the menu!) but I did not eat there.
One place I read about over and over before we left was the Khmer Kitchen. We ate there, and while the food was certainly cheap, it was nothing special. In fact, the fried spring rolls were practically inedible.
We had decent pizza at a place called the Paper Tiger (actual name in French)-they have a wood burning pizza oven.
When I lived in Cambodia in the 90s, I used to eat at the Khmer places along the river in Siem Reap. Now the place is just so insanely OTT touristy I wouldn't know where to go. If you find a real Khmer joint, ask for 'traey r-oa cha k'nye' (fish fried with ginger). Traey r-oa is a certain variety of river fish that is very meaty and tasty. It's a great go-to dish in Cambodia. Also 'samlo m'chu yuan' which is a politically incorrect way of ordering the sour soup with lotus root, tamarind and pineapple, also excellent.
My last couple of times in Saigon I've been eating at Dong Pho in District 3, a beautiful restaurant serving Hue style Central Vietnamese food. It features a lot of steamed rice cake that you roll up and dip in fish sauce. Incredible. (57 Ho Xuan Huong Q3, Tel 930 7665)
I don't know Saigon that well so can't recommend splurgy places, but you should definitely have a meal at Quan An Ngon (138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1. Ho Chi Minh City. 84-8/825-7179. It is a place that has rounded up street snacks from all regions of Vietnam and put them under one roof. It's a crowded fun crazy place and the food is quite good.
A nice place to grab a drink in Siem Reap is in the Victoria Hotel, adjacent to the Raffles Grand.
Quan an Ngon in Saigon is definitely worth at least one visit. There are cooking stations all around this very large restaurant ... you can walk through and decide to sit near one of them. We opted instead for an outdoor seat near the entrance, as the interior was pretty smoky from all those grill stations. Try the Pounded Shrimp Hash Fried on Sugar Cane with Rice Vermicelli, Rice Paper, and Vegetables (52,000 dong, about $3.75). You get shrimp pate on sticks of sugar cane (photo 1), you cut off a piece (photo 2), you put veggies, the shrimp, and noodles on rice paper (photo 3), and roll it up (photo 4). It is a tourist magnet but prices are reasonable, quality is high, service is very helpful, and best of all the food is delicious.