If you have been following my Instagram account then you will know that for the past week or so I’ve been living in up in Cambodia. I have have spent the past week and half eating everything in site while sunning myself in the gorgeous Pavillion D’Orient Hotel in Siem Reap. If you’ve never visited the home of Angkor Wat before, then you should know that this place is filled to the brim with all kinds of delicious treats and that Khmer cuisine has been seriously over looked in favour of its neighbours’. The best part about Cambodian food is that it is insanely affordable, everything is at most a third of the price that it is in Seoul, if not cheaper. So for that alone it makes the perfect holiday destination.
1 – Fire Ants – When researching what to eat in Siem Reap, I came across many recommendations for Marum Restaurant which is a profit free place dedicated to helping the local community by training their staff how to cook. One of their most famous dishes is the Spicy Beef with Fire Ants ($6.60), a delicious stir fried beef dish which is strewn with crispy ants. This dish was scrumptious and I wasn’t at all creeped out eating ants, you can have it by itself or add a side of rice to make it a meal. They also have a fab happy hour from 4pm-7pm which we took full advantage of while enjoying their lovely garden setting.
2 – Noodle Soup – I adore a big bowl of noodle soup which regular readers will know about from my tonkotsu ramen obsession. The Khmer noodle soup is slightly different from its other Asian counterparts but no less delicious. A huge bowl of tasty broth is filled with thick handmade noodles and garnished with fresh herbs, chillies and lime. This particular bowl was served as part of the breakfast at the 60s inspired Viroth Hotel. The meatballs inside were a bit on the strange side, but he noodles were incredible and I happily scarfed down a bowl each morning.
3 – Lok Lak– Beef Lok lak is one of Cambodias most famous dishes, and you will see it on virtually every menu in the city. The beef dish comes served with salad for you to eat alongside the meat. The meal is then either rounded our with rice or with french fries. This dish is from Our favourite cheap eatery The Red Angkor. A brother and sister team own the place and always give a warm welcome while serving incredibly tasty food at rock bottom prices. Nothing on the menu costs over $4 and this Lok Lak was a mere $2.50 they also offer 50 cent beers which pretty much guaranteed that we visited the place frequently throughout our trip.
4 – BBQ Skewers – Another dish that you must try in Cambodia is their BBQ. Not that different to the style we have here in Korea, but the meat selection is usually a wee bit more adventerous. We unfortunately didn’t have time to to make it a meal and have the full shebang but we did enjoy these fantastic Beef Skewers ($3) at the Khmer Grill. Yes, that’s right, they were a dollar a piece. The chunks of beef were sandwiched between slices of carrot, onion and paprika, cooked on the outdoor bbq and served with a lime and pepper dip. Suffice to say, it was three dollars very well spent!
5 – Amok Curry – The amok curry is probably the other most famed Cambodian dish. We tried a couple of varieties during the course of our trip, including one served in a coconut. The curry itself is very mild, and those who enjoy Thai curries may want to amp up the flavour a little. This is a version that we made in our cooking class at Phum Baitang which was filled with the snake fish we had bought at the local market. Again this is a dish you can expect to see on menus everywhere, there are also versions with chicken and pork if you don’t like fish.
6 – Fresh Juice & Smoothies – Cambodia is filled to the brim with delicious fresh fruits and veggies, you only need to take a look around the local markets to see the bounty of fresh produce available and many of the newer western restaurants are taking advantage of this to make refreshing fruit juices and smoothies. We came across several Balinese-type, healthy places which along with drinks had a variety of dishes catering to vegans, vegetarians and those with dietary restrictions. The juices at ARTillery Cafe were some of our favourites, and it was conveniently located right next to our hotel. Pictured is the Ginger Aid and Mango Madness ( both $3).
7 – Chicken cashew – We enjoyed this dish in virtually every restaurant we went to, as it is a pretty much a favourite of mine and TFBs in South East Asia. The cream of the crop of these cashew chicken dishes was at the New Leaf Eatery for $6. Other than the Red Angkor this was probably our favourite place to eat. It’s another non profit restaurant and the food was just incredible. It was one of the few places we ate western food too, their steak baguette was knock out and well worth a try if you are in the mood for a sandwich.
8 – Frog – Kermit and his loved ones are a pretty popular dish on the menus of Khmer cuisine, and find them cooked in a variety of different ways. We tried this spicy stir fried version at the Khmer Grill ($3), but you can also get them deep fried. This was my first time eating frog, and I have to say it’s just a lot like a tiny chicken wing. If you really want to go crazy, some of the street stalls serve tarantula, cockroach, lizard, and snakes for 50 cents a piece. I couldn’t bring myself to try them though, it made be shudder every time I gazed upon those deep fried cockroaches. I know that’s lame as hell for a food blogger but I just didn’t have the stomach for it.
9 – Rice Soup (Bawbaw) – Of all the new dishes that I tried the Bawbaw was probably top of my list. Similar to the Khmer noodles, the broth is full of rice, rice noodles, meal and veggies. It is a little similar to Vietnamese pho, but in a totally different way. The broth is so simple and clean, yet studded with flavour. If I was feeling sick this would be my absolute go to soup. At our beautiful hotel Pavillion D’Orient they served this bowl of magical goodness for breakfast though they also had it on their restaurant menu for ($5) and it is an absolute must try.
10 – Angkor Beer & Nuts – You cant leave Cambodia without trying the local beer and there are two varieties, Angkor beer and Cambodia beer, TFB preferred the Angkor and I tend to agree with him. The beers can be purchased for as little as 50 cents on draft and about 60 cents a can in the supermarket. When buying a beer in a bar you’ll also be given a bowl full of nuts that are seasoned with chili, lime leaves and garlic. Those babies are insanely addictive and I even took to buying extra beers just so I could eat the nuts. I am going to have to have a go at recreating these myself because I have already eaten my way through the humble supply I bought before I left. If anyone is in Cambodia right now, I’ll love you forever if you bring me back a bag or two!