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Cambodia is ready for your unforgettable dining experience. Their international level restaurants offer great service, a wide choice of food, tropical ambience and friendly smiles from the local people – all at an affordable price.
Cambodia shares its gastronomical culture with neighboring countries, as can be found in their noodle soups that may remind you of the Vietnamese pho, curry soup from India, variations of noodles from the Chinese, nom pang (baguette) from the French or sour soup and stir-fries from the Thai.
Cambodian food tends to be all about contrasts: between sweet and bitter, salty and sour, fresh and cooked, between tasty assimilations of many influences and its own indigenous taste.
Its sweetness is derived from palm sugar and its sourness from preserved lemon and tamarind. Spices such as cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, star anise, garlic, and ginger are also widely used in their dishes.
The Mekong River that cuts through the heart of Cambodia blesses them with abundant freshwater fish, and fertile soil allows them to harvest rice; therefore, fish and rice are an integral part of Khmer cuisine.
Plain white rice is almost always present at every meal, served along at least three dishes of different type and flavor, such as soups like samlor macho trey (sweet and sour fish soup), grills like ang dtray meuk (grilled squid), vegetable stir-fry (cha tra kuen), deep fried fish, curries, or amok like fish amok.
Side plates of greens, herbs, lime and peppers are served during meals as condiments, and tropical fruit is often served as dessert.
Sauces, especially chili is usually served in a bowl, and you may be given a small plate for your personal serving.
Cambodian restaurants commonly serve shared plates, which means that you will share your dishes with your companions, and white rice is provided for each person. Ideally, one to two dishes can provide for a single person, two to three dishes are for at least 2 people.
There are also non-sharing, personal dishes with included rice or noodles, such as bai sach chrouk or barbecued sliced pork and rice.
Wider ranges of restaurants are now available, with various menus offered from traditional Khmer cuisine to international food and more options for vegetarians and vegans.
Some of the restaurants are providing international level service, with set menus or a la carte menus.
If your dishes are served in sharing style, you’ll be given individual plates and you may help yourself and take your own portion accordingly.
Although tipping is not part of Cambodian culture, a little gesture will be warmly welcomed; see below for more tips and etiquette for dining in Cambodia.
When deciding where to dine, the best restaurants will help you engage not only with the rich and vibrant Cambodian food but also with its local culture.
We hand-picked some of the best restaurants in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, for your authentic dining experience:
Among the Siem Reap top 10 restaurant is a training school for young, sometimes underprivileged orphans, providing them with hospitality training as waiters.
The restaurant’s most favourite dishes are the Khmer fish amok - a freshwater fish based curry with lemongrass, chilli and coconut milk - and lok lak, a traditional Cambodian pepper beef dish with vegetables.
Marum is also a training restaurant with beautiful spacious private outdoor courtyards. It provides Asian, traditional Cambodian, and fusion food.
Be sure to try their pork salad and their grilled pork ribs, accompanied by sauvignon blanc. They also provide a wide choice of vegetarian menus and desserts, a popular one is banana fritters with lemongrass ice cream.
Angkor Village: L’Auberge des Temples
This restaurant is located at the beautiful Angkor Village Hotel, built in traditional Khmer architecture.
Its open wooden terrace is surrounded by water foliage, radiating a tranquil ambience. The dining is available a la carte and offers wide selection of Khmer traditional menus.
Romdeng is located in a beautifully restored French colonial building with a pictoresque garden. This restaurant serves Asian, traditional Cambodian and a wide choice of vegetarian food.
Dare to try one of their specialties: fried tarantula, or try one of our suggestions: fish amok, seafood tamarind, or mango salad if you’re a vegetarian.
Friends the Restaurant
Together with Haven and Marum, Friends the Restaurant is also a training restaurant under Tree Alliance association that aims to help and train young people to work in hospitality service.
They offer Asian and fusion food. Our favorite menus are sautéed baby squid with kampot pepper and rice wine, smoky eggplant, garlic and coriander dip served with bread.
Compared to Western dining, dining etiquette in Cambodia is considerably less complicated and not strict; but learning local culture, especially at table, will go a long way.
Here is an introduction to etiquette for dining in Cambodia:
Here are some tips for dining in Cambodia that may help you and save time and trouble:
Asia Highlights welcomes the chance to help you create your own unforgettable dining experience.
We will also gladly assist you in selecting destinations, accommodation and activities in Cambodia that best suit your requirements.
Visit the links below today, to learn more about our tour packages and start planning your visit to Cambodia.