Falling In Love Through My Stomach!
Moving to Siem Reap and seeing how much we can develop our programmes within the community here, has made me wake up stupidly excited everyday. Our new partners are just so wonderful, and we already have an abundance of plans of how we can collaborate and grow together. I would be lying though if there weren’t other reasons that make me excited to be living in Siem Reap… reasons that find the way to my heart through my stomach!
As a huge foodie I wasted no time seeking out the best cuisine the city has to offer, finding myself at a different cafe or restaurant for every single meal for my first few weeks here. I searched google, tripadvisor, and groups on facebook to see what were the firm favourites, but I knew some hidden gems you could only stumble upon. I started to pin places on google maps that tickled my taste buds when I walked past, as my forgetful brain knew my stomach would thank me later if I did this!
Breakfast, the most important meal of the day especially if you have a busy day lined up exploring the city, but also a great meal to push back to a brunch time so that you can spend a few hours curled up at a cafe reading a book or watching the world go by. Anyone who knows me knows that brunch is hands down my favourite meal of the day so to find some good cafes was high on my priorities. I was over the moon to find out that a cafe I have spent waaaay too much money in, in Phnom Penh also has a cafe up here too! Artillery Arts Cafe makes you healthier as soon as you step inside, with its plant based, lifestyle-focused menu that brings you an array of vegetarian, vegan and food foods in quirky yet satisfying dishes. Its Green Fa-Waffle Benedict (yes you read that correctly…) is just heavenly and with a generous layer of avocado leaves you the perfect level of full. However if you are in need of a bit more carb to your meal, be sure to check our The Source Cafe. They still do great healthy options such as their HUGE smoothie bowl that is served in a shell (as you do!!), but they do a big fry up with bacon, beans, homemade hash brown the lot! Did I also mention they have the best ground coffee around??! Now we are onto coffee, I do have a firm recommendation if you need to hunker down, focus on some work for a few hours and be fueled by caffeine. The Little Red Fox Espresso has a lovely quiet upstairs area and alongside a delicious menu, serves coffee in mugs so big they could be bowls. My kind of coffee, and definitely the only reason I completed out our annual report so quickly!
You spend so much time brunching and suddenly your stomach is growling for lunch. Now depending on how healthy you went for breakfast, you may want all the carbs for lunch. Old Beijing Dumpling House will satisfy the carb craving with some of the best dumplings I have ever had. Only $3 for 13!! Or maybe it is cheese you are after, then you have to stop off at The Global Hub for a cheese toastie. Not only will you get a cheese fix but you will also be helping a social enterprise that supports responsible and sustainable Globalteer projects in Cambodia. Another spot where you can eat scrummy food and support a worthy cause is at New Leaf Eatery. Each month 30% of their profits are donated to a chosen charity or project, and then 20% is shared amongst their Cambodian staff. $40,000 has already been donated, and they are currently supporting PEPY (one of our new wonderful partners!). Win win lunch time!
Don’t get me wrong I love having all this choice of other cuisines but at least twice a day you have to get your fix of proper local Cambodian food. Not only are the dishes packed full of flavour, but there is so much variety. You can have a range of different curries, rice porridge (not at all like oat porridge), fried ginger, banh chao which are stuffed savoury pancakes, spicy green mango salad (my staple lunch for the past 9 months…), loc lac, every kind of vegetable fried up in a delicious sauce, fresh fish and so much more! If you stop by The Jungle Street Cafe you will not only be spoilt for choice but they ensure you have free nuts to begin with & fresh watermelon to cleanse your palate after your meal. Just down the road is another firm favourite, Sita Sousdey. It is only a small restaurant but with a huge amount of flavour! With an open kitchen you can see them freshly preparing your meal, which is always served with the biggest smile. A popular Khmer restaurant on everyone’s list and for very good reason is Tevy’s Place. They even have a couple of seats to wait for a table outside, but I have never waited for more than 5 minutes. That small wait is so worth it as they serve up some of the best dishes for insanely cheap prices. I have to admit though amongst all these incredible restaurants I do find myself floating back to one time and time again. Sambo Khmer & Thai similar to Tevy’s Place, is always busy, but that doesn’t mean you are hurried along with your meal. They make you feel at home as soon as you step foot inside, and I am always so impressed by how the owner spends time talking to everyone no matter if it’s someone’s 1st or 30th visit. Not only does the place have a lovely atmosphere but the food is out of this world. Her Khmer dishes are delicious but as Sambo spent many years in Thailand, her Thai food is some of the best I have tasted outside of Thailand!
Of course there are all sorts of other places to fill your bellies after a busy day such as; Maybe Later that does incredible Mexican food (100x better than the Viva Mexican restaurants all over the city), Elia Greek Kitchen which has 2 popular restaurants serving sangria to wash down their authentic greek dishes, The Noodle Corner that hands down serves the best fried rice though as the name indicated also serves delicious noodle dishes including dumpling noodle soup, and for those cheese lovers you can’t miss Il Forno that delivers the perfect Italian dishes and a 4 formaggi pizza that has taleggio as one of it’s cheese choices…taleggio!! My local pizzeria in the UK couldn’t even deliver a topping that good!
Of course this is just a sprinkling of places to fill your hearts and bellies when you are in Siem Reap, there are hundreds more restaurants and street stalls that will make you wake up salivating as you dream of their dishes. Trust me I am now way near finishing eating my way around all the options there are… now just to find a good gym or larger clothes to help me with all my food research!!