Sophie is currently travelling with Real Gap Experience (yeah buddy!) hitting up Thailand, Cambodia and Australia on a year's travel plan. Sophie is also giving a lot of her time to community volunteering so we'd like to say a massive well done and a huge thanks for this great blog post (one for all the foodies out there!). Over to you Sophie...
Best Places to Eat in Cambodia - by Sophie Maddern
I have been travelling around Cambodia for 3 weeks now. I’m certainly not an expert, but at the very least, I can recommend a few places that I’ll be likely to go back to.
Phnom Penh is big. It’s bustling, there are lots of people and lots of great places to choose from. One place in the capital that I’ve tried and would actively recommend is Grand River. As a large group of 11, we ordered a mixture of Khmer dishes and it was all delicious. It's a shame I only managed to grab a picture of the Amok Curry (served in a banana leaf). We also tried traditional red and green curries, beef Lok Lak, and crab – which I wasn’t sure about, but it turned out to be stunning. Cocktails are fairly popular in Cambodia too, so I had an espresso martini – my favourite! Although I went on to have Amok many more times in Cambodia, this Amok was the best one I had – but of all the dishes, the Lok Lak was the winner. Cubes of beef are seared with seasoning, chilli and oyster sauce, served with salad along with a kampot pepper and lemon dip - you’ll find this dip a lot around Cambodia (despite the fact I’m not a fan of pepper, I love it). This is quite a snazzy little joint, and you’ll find a main meal costing around $7-8.
In Sihanoukville, you’ll probably be told to try out Monkey Republic, Big Easy or Led Zephyr. I tried all three. They all serve a fairly similar, western style of food with a smattering of Khmer food. Of them all, I’d say that Monkey Republic won me over, mainly because of the juices they serve before 4pm that they squeeze to order. I’d go for the “Hydrate Me Please” if you had a few too many whiskey buckets at the Dolphin Bar the night before.
I tried loads of places in Sihanoukville however one of the best for me was Angkor Beach Bar. Sat right on the beach, this place mainly offers a BBQ menu. Available are mix and match items with sides, or you can order a mixed BBQ. Here’s a word of advice – if you like seafood, have some here. The Mixed seafood BBQ comes with barracuda, squid, king prawns, a side of your choice, plus salad and garlic bread for around $6 (if you go during Happy Hour it’s only $5!). If you’re not a fan of seafood, you can go for a mixed grill, or stick to chicken, steak or even a veggie option. Happy Hour also applies (unsurprisingly) to the drinks, so make sure you ask your server for info!
I’m going to gloss over this briefly, as I only visited the second largest city in Cambodia for one night.
Try out the Lonely Tree Café. The food is great and it’s run by a charitable organization. Nearly all of the staff are disabled – which is something that would normally exclude them from every day jobs in Cambodia. There’s also a little gift shop downstairs with some lovely things. I had the prawns with the chilli dip and a chicken burger. All the food around the table looked good, and the pumpkin soup got particular praise. It won’t set you back too much money either, at around $4-5 for most main meals it's a steal.
I’ve saved the best until last, Siem Reap has a huge amount of bars and restaurants closely situated together, making it hard to know where to go. If your looking for drinks – try Miss Wongs for a fab selection of cocktails or the Red Piano for slightly cheaper ones (including the Tomb Raider, apparently ordered there by Miss Jolie herself). If you’re the tenth order it’s free, and every 500th order wins a t shirt plus $100!). If you’re wanting some cheap drinks on BOGOF, try out Angkor Famous, or for a late night clubby vibe with some harder to find western drinks (such as spiced rum) try Angkor What? or X bar. Beatniks has great deals on every night and is a favourite for travellers.
New Hope – Bakong Village/New Hope School. This is a charitable organization with many branches. They have building projects, a free clinic, school, and training restaurants. I tried out both the New Hope School and Bakong Village restaurants – designed to give people a chance to work in a kitchen, so that they can develop skills to work elsewhere and get a decent job. In both places the food was great – I tried fried rice, khmer curry, red curry and Panang chicken (chicken roasted in panang leaves). I was particularly impressed with the chicken, as it was cooked just right – not dry at all. Most of the dishes aren’t above $4 and the portions are decent too.
Sister Srey - Ask anyone that I travelled with and they’ll tell you – Sister Srey is one of my favourite places in the world. The café is run by two Aussie sisters and the food is amazing and had me eyeing up every plate that went past me with utter food envy. I had the French toast stuffed with cream cheese and bacon, the mango and chicken burger, the tavacado (toast with avocado and roasted tomatoes with pesto), the pumpkin pide and the breakfast granola trifle. If you only get to go for one meal, I’d recommend the French toast, but really you’d struggle to go wrong. They also offer VERY good coffee, smoothies, juices (if you like ginger - give Detox a try – yum!), as well as raw cakes. They’re great for vegetarians and vegans too, as a lot of the dishes don’t include meat. Prices start from around $3, going up to around $8 for a main meal.
Well there you have it, some mouth-watering dishes at great prices! Make sure you try these food joints for yourself if you're heading out on our Cambodia Experience! We'd like to once again say thanks to Sophie for providing us with this great content! Now get out there and experience it! Why not talk to one of our travel advisors?
Until next time guys,
Team Real Gap Experience