As with all holidays, my time in Cambodia seems to be progressing at a lightening speed. Tomorrow we leave for Sihanoukville, and so I thought it would be an opportune time to write down a quick bit about my favourite places to eat and stay in Siem Reap. These are the places I loved while I was here, I am sure there are so so many more but alas, I'm not made of time.
We stayed at Navutu Dreams Resort, which admittedly is a little out of town. Probably not a place for those who are looking for a wild time, the resort is about ten minutes away from Pub Street by Tuk Tuk. As it turns out, however, this has been one of my favourite things about it. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, it is an oasis of calm (Black books, anyone?) and everything about it has been perfection. The staff go absolutely above and beyond every time, whether that be by welcoming you when you arrive, giving insanely good head massages, or just generally being so nice you want to cry. Plus, you are assigned your very own Tuk Tuk driver, who is kind of like the Dad that picks you up and drops you off whenever you fancy. I'm writing this as I sit at my beachside hotel in Sihanoukville, and I have to say I am already nostalgic for Navutu. Seriously, you just have to stay there. (Ps: in case you are wondering, this isn't remotely sponsored)
Now to the food. There are so many places to eat here, that it is really quite hard to go wrong. A number of times we have just stopped and flopped at a nameless restaurant, and the food has been A plus every time. If you eat meat, go to one of the stalls on the side of the road and eat like a local! This is somewhat trickier, however, when catering to vegetarians or vegans. These places we went to catered brilliantly to vegetarian/pescetarian diners, and the food was outrageously good.
In the heart of 'the alley' which is sandwiched between Pub Street and the Old Market, Khmer Kitchen became a sort of habit for us. 2 juices and 2 curries with rice generally cost around 10US dollars, and the food was infallibly tasty. The Amok was not the best we had, but for the price and the convenience it was fantastic. One other great thing about this place is that all the meals offer the option of substituting tofu for the meat options.
Located a little bit out of the heart of town (still only a ten minute walk) this restaurant was, while admittedly full of Westerners, absolutely delightful. Perhaps it is the Mohitos talking, but the Amok was the best we have yet had. The menu warns that it will take up to 40 minutes, but that time is easily filled with a few cocktails, which were cheap and particularly authentic. Important: you will die over the satay tofu sticks on the starters menu. Just order them.
In the centre of the Old Market, once you manage to escape the admiringly persistent sales ladies, is a whole other world. Fish heads, tails, and innards fly every which way as the store owners sit amongst the carnage without flinching. Every now and again a fish jumps out of its designated tray, frightening Westerners and promptly being handled by the unflappable store owners. As you progress past the fish, the stores slowly morph into what must be the Cambodian version of take away. Curries simmer over the hot stoves, and while some store owners are more helpful then others, they assist helpless looking Westerners when they can. There are a number of sweets you can and should try, including the jelly looking noodles that are brightly coloured and accompanied by coconut milk and sugar. 90% of the time you will have no idea what you are eating, and thats just the fun of it.
Located on the opposite side of the river to the Old Market, this is a hippy little cafe that looks like it ought to belong in Brunswick, Melbourne. Colourful peace flags adorn the trees, and there are lounge beds where customers can relax and beat a bit of the heat. We only had smoothies here, but I lurked some food as it came out, and it looked delicious. This place is all vegetarian, and offers daily vegetarian cooking classes and yoga, among other things. Well worth a quick trip for the vegos amongst us, as you can guarantee they won't be putting fish sauce in your 'vego' meal.
Wow. We visited this place on the last night of our Siem Reap stint, and I was absolutely blown away. On the same side of the river as the Peace Cafe, this is a degustation restaurant that focuses on fresh, seasonal Cambodian food. The menu changes every TWO WEEKS (!!!) to reflect the optimal seasonality of each ingredient. Booking ahead is definitely necessary, and if you let them know you are vegetarian then they are more than accommodating. Seriously some of the most delicious food I have ever tasted, I would rate this as a must do for foodies in Siem Reap. And some of the nicest food I have ever eaten.