Ok, so having arrived home from an *amazing* escape to Cambodia, I can recommend it as a truly breathtaking place to visit, both from a food and non-food perspective. Siem Reap is an especially stunning place, and thanks to all your comments in these forums, we had a set of stunning meals. Not one I can complain about. A few of the highlights:
- Amok http://www.canbypubl...s/amok-page.htm
This is an extraordinarily popular Khmer restaurant on ‘The Passage’ (Pub Street alley)….a very crowded and touristy street in Siem Reap. Whilst it is bigger than most restaurants nearby, with a pleasant sidewalk location, and includes a wonderful clean bathroom and upstairs balcony, it is still quite cramped. It has a photo menu which makes it easy to choose from a wide selection of traditional Cambodian dishes including its namesake the classic Khmer dish Amok. This is what we chose, alongside a local salad, which was sweet, sour, and crunch all rolled into one mouthful. Amok (the dish) itself is a rich Cambodian coconut curry which is traditionally served with fish and steamed in a banana leaf, however Amok (the restaurant) serve a tasting platter of fish, beef, shrimp, vegetable and pork. Price-wise it is not cheap comparaitvely, as it cost us ~$18US total (for two people) for two mains only.
- Neary Kitchen http://www.canbypubl...s/nearypage.htm
So, this is where our fabulous tuktuk driver user to be the chef. Our tuktuk driver, Soyean was lovely, so we were keen to eat where he used to work. Having not heard about this in any other food forums, we were not expecting much, but we were blown away and would vote this food-wise the best yet! Ambience was not as charming as Sugar Palm or Viroths (reviewed below), but still a kzillion times better than most other khmer food haunts around Siem Reap. We ordered steamed serpent fish (local fish in deliciously wholesome soup) and Prahok Ling (fermented fish pork). These servings were so big, that it made it difficult to finish both, yet the damage to our wallets including drinks was only $10US total (for two people).
It's authentic Khmer cuisine served in a relaxed, open-air setting. At first it may look like a tourist trap, with large long tables able to sit 20+ people. But, rest assured, these will soon fill up with large local families piling out of their minivans to enjoy a night out with all their cousins/aunts/grandparents, etc. The menu is extensive, yet doesn't describe the dishes, which made it difficult to choose something which sounded edible..... but the recommendations from our host made for a perfect combination. Homely, tasty, heavenly.
- Sugar Palm http://www.asialifec...&article_id=154
We had the restaurant to ourselves from noon until 3pm..... apparently no one else was interested in eating lunch there that day! But, then again, I'm told this is
the place where F&B managers from nearby five star hotels come to feast, so maybe they dine afterhours. This place serves old-fashioned, flavorful, and hearty Khmer food, in a beautiful surrounding of a double story colonial style house, with an airy balcony. It's owned by a New Zealand couple (or so the lovely NZ guy we were speaking to at lunchtime claimed).
Bruce (the NZ guy claiming to own the place) recommended to us some tasty dishes, whilst we enjoyed the warm and inviting ambience of his restaurant. This time, we ate with a non-pork eating couple, so we needed to substitute the traditional khmer grilled eggplant pork dish, to beef, and Sugar Palm were more than happy to oblige. The food has a good kick to it, all the meat is tender, and our dishes were lip-smacking good. By the time we ate this meal, some of us had already eaten two different buffet breakfasts, and numerous snacks at the temples, but still, our plates ended up spotless! Not a morsel of sauce even left. Main meals were $5 - $10US (so expensive for Siem Reap standards, but well worth it. This is a classy joint, exuding old world charm, but manages not to be snooty)
- Viroths http://www.viroth-hotel.com/
Funky outdoor ambience with "almost" Western style service (our first waiter was brand new, hence the reason for the almost). We order amoks, fermented fish paste pork, and Khmer salad. Dining with a non fish eater and a non beef eater meant we didn't fully explore all the menu options available, but nor did we need to, as we were very content. The menu is a mix of Cambodian and European foods. Price was ~$15US per person, for starters, mains, and drinks. You can also BYO here, which is good if you've bought up in duty free. The food was probably the least tasty out of all the places I'm reviewing here, but the ambience was contemporary, chic, and easygoing. Great for a night chatting with friends.
- Blue Pumpkin
This was almost going to be our worst experience, given out of the five of us who went there for icecream (their speciality), only one enjoyed it. The problem was, we ordered from the "ice cream menu", rather than just looking at the ice-creams on display and ordering a few scoops. Their ice-cream menu is filled with awful concoctions, such as banana splits trifles doused in peanut sauce, and sickly sweet, rum infused, meringue dotted masterpieces. However, just choosing a few flavours from their wonderful ice-cream selection would have been enough (we found out as we walked out of the place passing an array of yummy sounding varieties...). They also sell pastries, which make for a nice breakfast on the way to see a sunrise over Angkor Wat. They resemble French pastries in look only (they taste like an Asian breadtop style sweet treats), however are still delicious for those craving a sugar high after temple trekking.
Additionally, if you’re after a good tuktuk driver in Siem Reap, I can highly recommend Kim Soyean – a humble, reliable, and ever-smiling local Cambodian who spends his days ferrying tourists between temples and learning to speak English. He’s the ex-chef from Neary Khmer. His brother, Kim Soryar, runs a small local travel business (can arrange drivers, tuktuk, guides, accommodation, etc), and his mother in law runs a guesthouse. I’m confident that Kim Soryar could arrange a wonderful escape for anyone lucky enough to visit their beautiful country: firstname.lastname@example.org: +855-1222-1883 or +85516625514 (yes, shameless plug I know, but these guys are so humble and earning less than $10US per day, growning up throughout the Pol Pot genocide era in Cambodia, I thought it’s the least I could do for them. They really made our holiday amazing
Edited by Piglit, 28 December 2008 - 08:39 PM.