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Eating out in Siem Reap can be difficult – not because options are limited, but because the choices are too many! The city is a foodie’s paradise, with a myriad of restaurants offering everything from local Khmer fare to Indian, Chinese, Italian and more. With this in mind, I’ve created a mini ‘Siem Reap food guide’, with some tips on where, and what, what to eat in the city.
Eating out in Siem Reap – my top spot goes to Khmer Grill
My favourite restaurant in the whole of Siem Reap has to be Khmer Grill, not just for the super tasty food, but also the atmosphere.
A short tuk-tuk ride from the city’s nightlife centre of Pub Street, Khmer Grill is this wonderful spot where the quality of the food is matched by the staff. Everyone there is fun and welcoming, and after our first meal there (we returned several times) we felt like we’d spent the evening with old friends.
A varied menu gives you the chance to try a variety of local Cambodian dishes or pick a western favourite and after just one mouthful, we were addicted to their appetiser – peanuts stir-fried in lemongrass and basil. O.M.G!
Open as a café during the day and a full restaurant in the evenings, we quickly learnt that Khmer Grill fills up quickly, so we recommend coming early – also worth noting they don’t take bookings before 8.30. With so many of the spots filled by return customers, we knew we’d stumbled across a very good thing!
Don’t miss: We couldn’t get enough of the grilled ribs (no 6 on the menu) and the absolutely scrumptious garlic rice. The best we had in our entire stay in Cambodia.
Make sure you have a go at a Khmer BBQ!
Khmer BBQ restaurants can be found all over Siem Reap and you shouldn’t miss out on the experience when you visit.
We heard great things about Hanza BBQ & Seafood Restaurant, which is known as a place locals love – always a good sign. Food is a set ‘all you can eat’ price of $5 per person and you basically help yourself to the raw food selection and then get cooking on your own personal BBQ.
This is a metal dome with a little ‘moat’ at its base, which is placed over a gas stove. Cue lots of giggling and ‘WTF?!’ expressions as we had no idea what we were doing or the etiquette around Khmer BBQ-ing! Eventually we grab a slightly worse for wear Aussie who taught us the basics and then our server decided to pity us and came to give us some directions on how to use it!
We learnt that you start by pouring the water from your kettle into the ‘moat’ (I’m sure its got a proper name, but no idea what it is!) and spreading the little lumps of fat over the top of the dome. Then all you need to do is put your slices of meat over the dome to cook and pop your veggies into the water – essentially you’re making a soup while the meat cooks!
With an impressive selection of meats, vegetables, rice and noodles to choose from, it’s a great option for those with a hearty appetite!
Afternoon tea in Siem Reap
If you’re after a bit of colonial history with your cake, there’s no better choice for afternoon tea than Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor. This beautiful building takes you back in time, and is a cool, peaceful sanctuary from the bustle and heat of the city.
Here you can have a number of savoury or sweet snacks, but I recommend trying one of the three afternoon teas they offer: classic, tropical or Khmer. Impeccable service, this is the perfect place for lovers of affordable luxury!
Don’t miss: My highlights were the savoury snacks in the Khmer afternoon tea – the spicy fried prawns and chicken satay skewers were to die for!
Visiting Pub Street, Siem Reap
Pub Street is the nightlife hub of Siem Reap, and is a street (although the bars and restaurants expand throughout nearby roads) full of bars, clubs and restaurants. There’s something here to take everyone’s fancy by I recommend a visit to Angkor What?, the iconic original Pub Street bar!
Angkor What? opened back in 1998 and it still lives in that era! Reminiscent of the grungy rock clubs I went to in the 1990s, it’s got that ‘sticky floor’ feel, plays classic 90’s Britpop and indie music and encourages you to scribble messages on the walls – I felt 18 again!
A little bit of Italy in Cambodia
Parallel to Pub Street is The Lane, a pretty, partially covered ‘arcade’ made up of more bars and restaurants. Hidden away was Il Forno, a cute little restaurant modelled on an Italian tratorria which serves authentic Italian food. We had fresh pizza cooked in the restaurant’s wood oven, and even though we both adore asian food, it was a delicious change from noodles and rice.
Don’t miss: If, like me, you love garlic, you will be in heaven if you order a Pizza Marinara!
Street food in Siem Reap
Most of the street food stalls we came across in Siem Reap were in and around Pub Street, and obviously aimed at tourists.
Dishes available en masse included crepes filled with Nutella, passion fruit shakes and fried insects – especially tarantulas.
I stuck with the crepes…
Places to eat in Siem Reap
So there you have it, our short and sweet guide to eating out in Siem Reap. I’d love to hear your thoughts on our recommendations and feel free to ask us any questions you may have in the comment section below.
If you’ve been to Siem Reap before and have you own recommendations to add, please feel free to share them too!