Among the Khmer dishes we chose for you, the specialties are Prahok, a fermented fish paste used as a dip for meat and fish, that will add a spicy flavor to your meal; and the regional variation of Khmer noodles, with lots of garlic, coconut milk and the usual lashings of greens on top.
Among the many drinks you can find, coffee is one of the most popular. Siem Reap has a good variety of cafes, the ideal place for a cup of Cambodian coffee. If you love beers, head towards Siem Reap Brewpub (the first in town) for a glass of their own craft beers.
Finally, we listed for you a few restaurants that are worth a try - you won't regret it.
- Refresh your taste buds with a good green mango salad
- Try Fish Amok, the signature dish of Cambodian cuisine
- End your meal with a sweet dessert made of red rice and mango
- Head to one of the many cafes to taste a blend of Cambodian coffee
- Visit the first brewery in town for a craft beer
The Best Choice for the First-Timers to Thailand and Cambodia
Food in Siem Reap
In Siem Reap it is easy to find traditional Khmer food, sold by elegant restaurants or street vendors (especially in the night market area).
The green mango salad is an excellent choice for vegetarians; it has a rich and refreshing flavor. (We also recommend trying all the fruit you can find in Cambodia: it is always awesome.)
Fish Amok, made of steamed catfish with curry, is a must-try; Prahok is a paste of fermented fish used in many ways; and the bamboo sticky rice is a quick snack cooked inside a bamboo tube.
Green Mango Salad
You can find many mango varieties in Cambodia, and they are all used to make delicious dishes. The green mango salad is a popular dish among locals as well as tourists. It is simple and refreshing.
The mango is seasoned with fish sauce, lemon juice, herbs, garlic, and red hot pepper. The taste is a combination of the sourness of the mango and the strong taste of the seasonings.
You can find this dish in almost every restaurant in Siem Reap.
This is one of the signature dishes of Cambodian cuisine; everyone has a family recipe for it.
The steamed catfish is extremely tender, and the curry sauce adds strong and intense flavor. Spices and coconut milk are also added, creating a unique and contrasting combination. It is served in a basket made of banana leaves, and has a bright yellow color.
You can have Fish Amok for just US$ 5, and it is basically served everywhere. We recommend trying restaurants specialized in Khmer traditional cuisine to try the best Amok in town.
The word Prahok indicates a crushed, salted, and fermented fish paste used as a seasoning. It has a strong, distinctive smell, and it is added to many Cambodian dishes, such as soups and sauces.
In the past, Prahok was used as a source of protein by the people living in the rural areas. They prepared and stored Prahok in great abundance during the wet season, when there is plenty of fish.
Fried Prahok is usually served with meat. It can also be cooked in banana leaves, placed over coals, and covered by stones. Usually it is not eaten raw, because of health issues and the strong smell.
You can find Prahok used as a dipping sauce for roasted meat (for example pork belly) or prawns, or added to noodle soups.
Nom Bahm Chok (Khmer Noodles)
For a real Cambodian breakfast, or a quick snack in the afternoon, Nom Bahm Chok is the right choice. It is a light noodle soup, and its particular flavor is given by the green fish gravy, the curry sauce and the beans, bean sprouts, banana flowers, and shredded cucumber put on top. It is a good dish to eat when temperatures are high.
The noodles, made from fermented rice, are made by hand in heavy stone mills.
There are many different regional variations. Siem Reap has its own version, with more garlic and coconut milk, served with a sweet sauce called tik pha em. Another difference can be the way the curry sauce is made.
You can find these noodles everywhere: at restaurants, street vendors, cafes, etc.
Kralan - Bamboo Sticky Rice
This snack is made from Cambodian sticky rice, cooked with coconut milk and soybeans. It is cooked inside a bamboo tube put on the fire. You can buy a tube of Kralan for less than US$ 1.
The rice is soaked for two hours along with the soybeans, then thoroughly washed with fresh water. The bamboo comes from the trees growing in the villages. They are cut in a way so that there is only one opening to put the rice in.
The sticky rice is then mixed with sugar and salt, and put inside the tube. The tube, closed with banana leaves, is placed into the hot coals that will burn the bamboo and cook the rice inside.
Local people eat Kralan as a quick snack. A lot of Kralan vendors are in the old market area and around the village of Dam Daek, southwest of the city.
Drinks in Siem Reap
To start the day, nothing is better than a good cup of coffee. You can find many varieties of coffee, from Espresso to French coffee, but we recommend the Cambodian coffee, with plenty of ice and sweet milk.
After a long day of sightseeing, you might want a refreshing drink: fruit juices are a healthy choice. They are sold everywhere, and they are made with fresh tropical fruit. For beer lovers, check the Siem Reap Brewpub, or try one of the many local beers like Angkor.
The long-lasting French influence is clear when it comes to coffee. There are cafes all over the town.
You can find a wide variety of good coffee there. For example, you can have an Italian Espresso (Illy) served in places like the Upstairs Cafe, or you can head to more elegant places like Le Grand Cafe, which is a nice colonial building, where you can have French roast coffee.
The Cambodian way to drink coffee is similar to the one in Thailand or Vietnam: with a lot of ice and sweet milk. They usually put the coffee in a fabric bag and add hot water until the desired strength is reached; finally, ice and sweet milk are added.
Fruit is important to the local cuisine and it is widely used, for meals as well as for drinks. We recommend trying lemon iced tea, lemonade, and passion fruit juice.
After a long day under the sun, smoothies are a good way to refresh your body. Walking round Siem Reap, it is easy to find juice stalls with their blenders and fruit displays, or cafes selling excellent smoothies. If you want, you can have coconut milk, sugar syrup, or condensed milk added.
If you like beer, head to Siem Reap Brewpub; it offers its own craft beers at affordable prices.
Among the many beers they craft, you can find a Blonde Ale, light and delicate; an India Pale Ale, with a high level of bitterness and a rounded flavor of malt; or a Saison Ale, with the flavor of lemongrass and an aftertaste of pepper corn.
If you just want to grab a quick beer for a refreshment during the day, you can opt for Cambodian beers like Angkor. Brewed in Sihanoukville, it is light and refreshing. You can also find an extra stout variety with a strong coffee taste and a dark, dense color.
Handpicked restaurants in Siem Reap
We chose these restaurants for a few reasons:
They offer excellent food, cooked with fresh ingredients, at a reasonable price. Their staff are warm and welcoming, mostly young people. The ambience is nice, elegant, quiet, and cozy.
Beside all this, they are "training restaurants"; they hire disadvantaged teenagers and teach them the job while providing for their studies and accommodation. The atmosphere is relaxed and happy, the perfect environment to taste a Khmer dish. Enjoy your evening, while helping the local community.
Every morning, the chef of the Haven Restaurant goes to the market to select fresh products. Through a large window to the kitchen, you can watch him cook your meal from those fresh ingredients.
Haven offers a varied menu, with Asian and western mains, snacks, soups, burgers, and desserts. They offer vegetarian and vegan options as well.
Among the many Asian mains, you can try the famous Amok, Soba noodles with shrimps (the noodles are made from buckwheat flour), or a fish fillet with green mango. Among the western mains you will see Schnitzel with fries, and a creamy mushroom Stroganoff.
You can dine there for around US$ 17 per person
Location: Chocolate Rd, Wat Damnak area, West of Angkor High School, Siem Reap
Opening Hours: lunch 11:30 - 14:30; dinner 17:30 - 21:30. Closed on Sundays.
This restaurant offers amazing food at a reasonable price (around US$ 15 per person), an elegant and cozy ambience, and warm and welcoming staff.
Their menu is very extensive. Among the "truly Khmer dishes", Marum offers prawn and pork with Prahok dip, local vegetables and crispy rice; a fish soup with tamarind, galangal and morning glory; and a Khmer pork salad with fresh mint.
You can also try an exquisite variation of the bamboo sticky rice, dressed with pandan sauce (a tropical plant growing in Southeast Asia) and sweet mango.
There is also a wide array of vegetarian dishes, like bean curd stir fry with lemongrass and palm sugar, or a spicy smoked eggplant dip with grilled pita bread.
You will find shakes, fresh juices, soft drinks, spirits, beers, cocktails, wines, coffe, and the typical Marum Tea.
Location: #8A, B Phum Slokram, Siem Reap
Opening Hours: 11:00 - 23:00, daily
Visit Siem Reap with Highlights Experience
At Asia Highlights we offer tailor-made tours through Asia, where you can enjoy all highlights as well as amazing cultural experiences. To get started, send us an email.