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Mar 11, 2009 03:56 AM

Siem Reap?

Part of Spring break will be spent in Cambodia this year, and I am looking for some good dining options, both low-end and mid-priced, and maybe one high-end dinner. Where do we HAVE to go?

We are also interested in cooking schools? has anyone here gone to one in Siem Reap? What was your experience?

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  1. Unfortunately Cambodia is not much of a culinary wonderland compared to the rest of SE Asia . Angkor is what you go to Siem Reap for.. Phnom Penh has much better variety for food. The local specialty is Fish Amok which is similar to a bland curry and available everywhere. There is a cooking school there " le tigre de papier" , but honestly - I would spend your time in the temples ( which are unbelievable ) and a walk around the market and save cooking classes for Thailand . For high end dinners check out the 5 star hotels. Hotel de la Paix or the restaurant at Raffles for Fancy Khmer. For cheaper eats there are several restaurants around town mostly on near/ bar street.. there wasn't anything that really stood out in my mind as and must go back to sorry. I've eaten my way around SE Asia and have to say Cambodia, while I love it.. its not a food destination.. . I am sure others may disagree.. however enjoy the "wild west feel" of Siem Reap and those fantastic temples!

    6 Replies
    1. re: serai

      I very much agree with serai. I was in SR and PP over Christmas, and ended up eating pizza twice (at le tigre de papier, no less), and French twice, because Cambodian food just did not inspire me. That being said, I'm half Thai and grew up eating Thai food. Cambodian food and Thai food are very similar, but in comparison, Cambodian food is much less flavourful and complex than Thai. It seemed people I spoke with who weren't as familiar with Thai food appreciated Cambodian food more than I.

      I'm not sure what price range your middle and low range would be, but Sala Bai serves dinner, and it's a great cause (it's a hospitality training school focusing on severely disadvantaged rural youth and women). The food was not bad, certainly no worse than other places, anyway. I thought it was cheap, at about US$8 for a 3-course meal.

      Khmer Kitchen, which now has three branches within a few minutes from each other, was actually our favourite Cambodian meal. I had read mixed reviews, but aside from our food being lukewarm, our meal was relatively good. It was cheap, too, though I can't remember the prices. (They've got a really good mango shake, too.)

      Just a reminder, if you order young coconut juice (and definitely do if you can!), make sure they cut it for you after you finish drinking the juice, so you can eat all that yummy coconut meat inside. We were shocked at the number of farangs we met who didn't know to do that. What a waste of delicious young coconut meat!

      1. re: prasantrin

        I second the Khmer Kitchen (I think there was just one branch when I went around this time last year... off Hospital Street). Great, delicious, food, and really cheap (I don't remember exactly, but for two people, with a bottle of wine it something like £10 GBP. I especially remember the fresh spring rolls, which were superb :)

        The Butterfly Garden restaurant serves up quite good food, reasonably priced, in a nice setting. Try their iced coffee too :)

        Avoid Abacus on Khun Street street though. The place itself is quite nice, but the food was a bit of a disaster. They've tried to 'westernise' things, and it just doesn't work. Instead, the dishes were very bland (and served lukewarm, if I recall).

        There seems to be quite a lot of restaurants ran by French expats. Avoid the lot of them. Overpriced, bad food.

        And I agree with serai - forget cooking lessons in Siem Reap and get yourself over to Angkor!!

        As an aside, while for most people Siem Reap is just a base for visiting Angkor, there are a number of (more modern!) temples within Siem Reap itself. Try Wat Po Lanka, Wat Bo and Wat Preah Prom Rath (there are others too). All are quite different from each other, and seem to get little or no tourist visitors. Well worth seeing, I think.

        1. re: GordonS

          Gordon.S Comment on April 03 doesn't make sense
          Abacus Restaurant has moved to its new location on Route 6 to the airport, and has a good reputation among many others (French & Non French) on the food scene of Siem Reap.
          As an expat living in Siem Reap, you may want to come out more often and see what's going on around town; the only thing you should avoid is to make silly comments

          1. re: French Expat

            I believe I mentioned I was in Siem Reap around a year ago, so of course things may have changed since then. But last February Abacus was on Khun Street, and I found the food to be quite poor. It's not a silly somment - it's my opinion of Abacus based on my experience there.

            1. re: French Expat

              expat - it's been making me crazy. i stayed in a hotel in 2003 , across the river from the old market, no far from the bridge. i think it would be near where residence d;angkor is on the maps. the had a bar across the street from the hotel on the water as well as a garden bar on the grounds. I cannot for the life of me remember the name - but i liked the food in their restaurant. any idea what hotel that might be? is it still there?

        2. re: serai

          I agree with serai. Siem Reap is not a foodie experience. Go for generic stuff - they'll do you a super fried/steamed fish.

        3. there was a great restaurant in my hotel in siem reap. really some of the best high-end cambodian i had while there.

          i was hoping the name of the hotel would come to me while typing, but i'm drawing a blank, making this the most useless post in CH history. googling isn;'t helping - it as on the river near the market - l'residence d'ankor show up around the right spot on the map, but i don't thiink the place we stayed at had a i dunno

          1. Thanks for the advice. We'll save our big eating days for Thailand then, and concentrate on the Wat while we're in Cambodia.

            1. The restaurant in the Hotel de la Paix was the highlight for me in Siem Reap. It was so good that we actually wind up eating there two out of three nights. I tried some of the local reaturants for fish amok and other local delicacies and those are OK. I guess worth a try but I wouldn't jump up and down about them.

              1. i was in the cooking school at the tigre de papier
                it was a great experience..for me better than the cooking class i had in chiang mai last year..