Even though I'm no food expert I try to do some research before my travels for must-try food or restaurants. However, my trip to Cambodia during Chinese New Year break was a last minute decision and I was too busy to do any research.
So when we arrived there, we were at the mercies of the tuk tuk drivers and advertisements :)
Our tuk tuk driver dropped up at the entrance of The Soup Dragon Vietnamese Restaurant. Cambodian, Vietnamese and Thais were very closely connected, evidence shown even in their local food. Located right at the entrance of Pub Street, corner lot; first impression was that it's definitely a tourist spot. However, the prices and the food changed our mind. Set up was cosy with lounges to make dining comfortable. And the huge fan blasting out cool air was perfect for hot dusty Cambodian weather.
Pho cooked with beef, priced at 2 USD (price the same for most of the dishes), were quite similar to our Malaysian Chinese Kuey Teow soup. However, the soup itself had a blander taste.
I ordered the dry pho (can't recall the exact name) which was very delicious, except that there was too much bean sprouts. Everybody like it that we order a second bowl. Priced at 2 USD.
Vietnamese spring rolls. A little rubberish but I like it. Like our own chee cheung fan. Thin layers with mince beef and fried onions. Priced at 2.5 USD.
Vietnamese Cofee and Pineapple shake. Perfect for thirst quenching.
Khemer Kitchen Restaurant seem to be very popular with seats all filled and we had to wait our turn for a table. Food was good. Not super duper fantastic but just nice.
Passion Juice. 1.50 USD.
Yoghurt Pineapple Shake. 1.50 USD
Khmer Curry with Chicken. 4 USD.
Banana Blossom Salad. 4 USD
Fried Morning Glory. 3 USD
Deep Fried Prawn & Powder. 4 USD
Trey Prama Omellet & Pork. 4 USD.
Another restaurant that the van driver brought us to was somewhere north of Siam Reap, directly opposite the Srah Srang, a baray (water reservior), which is opposite the east entrance of Banteay Kdei. The 'Srah Srang Restaurant', or so I coined it, is definitely a tourist restaurant. It has beautiful green plants all around, like an oasis in the middle of the dessert. We ordered Tom Yam, chicken and a salad. I can't recall the price but it was the most costly meal we had in Siam Reap. Food was good however. Maybe because we were too hungry after walking through temples the whole morning.
We satisfied our thirst with ice cold Cambodian tea and Strawberry smoothie.
One night, Rockstar and I headed out towards the night market and chance upon this corner open-air restaurant, managed by a Cambodian Chinese man with an English name. What caught our attention was that they had steamboat for 2.50 USD per set. It came with rice, noodles, beef, squid, prawn, egg and vegetables. We ordered another grilled squid and stir-fried noodles. Hot, yummy, delicious. It was one of the best meal we had in Siam Reap. Total meal came up to 7.50 USD. Their fruit shakes are cheap and good. We had 2 cups each and came back for more the next night. Their dragon fruit juice is a must-try. We went for round 2 dinner the next night.
We also had Amok twice. Amok is like a steamed Khmer curry. It comes with either fish, chicken or your choice of meat/seafood. However, fish was strongly recommended and I will say that its good. Thick and kinda mushy but very tasty.
We also tried the Lok Lak, a mince stir fried beef dish, another popular Cambodian food. It was just right before we left and since my in-laws are not every adventurous with food, I was the only one for ordered. It came with rice, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes and an egg. The meat was slightly dry but the sauce that came with it was tasty.
We also managed to try the KFC one hot afternoon, just because it was air-conditioned. Everything is similar except they had beef noodle soup, which cost only 1 USD. My in-laws really like it.
So yup, my food experience in Siam Reap, not very adventurous but at least I managed to try a few popular dishes. Just a few point to note, if you are heading that way :
1. Order & drink as many fruit juices, shakes, smoothies as you can. Its cheap and made from real fruits.
2. Try as many curries as you can. They have so many variety, and each unique on its on.
3. I know I shouldn't promote this but Drink! Alcohol is super cheap. Draft beer goes for 0.50 USD per glass. Go figure.
4. Be adventurous I got to say (even though I am Malaysian), Siam Reap is like a food heaven. So many restaurants and cafes to choose from and its all mostly concentrated in 1 area.