Despite its compact size and laidback vibe, Battambang is home to a delightful range of restaurants, catering for all tastes. Here are 10 of the best restaurants and eateries to visit during a trip to Cambodia’s second largest city.
Jaan Bai has earned itself a reputation as one of the country’s top eateries, serving up a sumptuous selection of Asian and Khmer cuisine given a contemporary twist. Translating as ‘rice bowl’, the social-enterprise diner is run by the Cambodian Children’s Trust, which provides vocational hospitality training for young people. Many ingredients come from the restaurant’s organic farm, and the restaurant is a staunch supporter of the local arts scene, so don’t forget to check out the art on the walls.
Café Eden is another popular place to fill up on food and top quality coffee. It also serves up tastes of the West, with huge-portioned American-inspired dishes forming the main part of the menu. Think towering toasted bagels with cream cheese and various fillings, Philly cheesesteaks and a mighty fine eggs Benedict. Run by a Christian social enterprise, the café ploughs all profits back into staff training as well as other local services.
A graduate of the prestigious Paul Dubrule culinary school in Siem Reap, restaurant owner Lyly has done an outstanding job with his venture. Coconut Lyly offers a range of Cambodian delicacies, prepared using fresh and healthy ingredients, minus the MSG flavour enhancer commonly found in Khmer dishes. Vegetarian options are available, and Mr Lyly also runs popular cookery classes, covering both veggie and meat recipes.
For some hearty Cambodian cooking with recipes taken straight from the countryside, Nary Kitchen is the place to be. Very reasonably priced meals take in traditional dishes, such as lok lak (beef stir-fry) and amok (curry steam-cooked in banana leaves), as well as vegetarian options. There’s also the chance to join a Khmer cooking class and learn how to rustle up Cambodian cuisine for yourself.
If it’s a doughy carb-fest you’re after, then head straight for La Casa Battambang – a simple affair plating up tasty, thin-crust pizzas with a variety of toppings, including lok lak and tom yum. Also on the menu is a selection of pasta, salads, starters and desserts (the chocolate fondue is a highlight). With both outdoor and indoor seating, there’s no shortage of space to enjoy a leisurely meal.
As one of Battambang’s longest-standing vegetarian eateries, Monorom Garden, previously known as Mercy House, is a stalwart on the city’s restaurant scene. The menu spans Asia, with a predominance of Japanese and Korean dishes, such as teppanyaki, alongside traditional Cambodian meals, including a meat-free lok lak. If you’re vegan, mention this to the staff, as egg is included in a number of the recipes.
Packaging a coffee shop, art gallery and co-working space into one place, Kinyei houses an award-winning social enterprise café that’s scooped first place in two Cambodian National Barista Championships. The evidence of its success is in the coffee, which is undeniably the best in Battambang. With a super-chilled vibe and super-speedy wi-fi, Kinyei is the perfect spot to enjoy a well-cooked breakfast, lunch or cheeky cake, washed down with a hot drink or smoothie. The shop is also home to Soksabike Tours, with bikes available to rent for $2 (£1.60) a day.
In keeping with Battambang’s arty scene, Choco L’Art Cafe is run by Khmer painter Ke and his French partner Soline. Showcasing stacks of local art, the diner is famous throughout the city for its homemade breads and delicious, French-inspired desserts – think chocolate hazelnut cake, rich mousses, pastries and crêpes. Also serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, this cosy haunt boasts a simple menu that takes in sandwiches and omelettes. The venue also occasionally features live music.
Ideally located for sundowners, The River is, unsurprisingly, set on the banks of the Sangker River, which slices through Battambang. Offering an extensive and affordable menu, the restaurant focuses on both Western and Khmer cuisine, with prices ranging from $2 to $4 (£1.60-£3.20). While breakfast, lunch and dinner are all available, sunset is the best time to choose a spot and watch the sun slip below the horizon, cocktail or draft beer in hand.
The Lonely Tree Cafe is another social enterprise that aims to elevate Battambang’s underprivileged youth and people with disabilities from poverty. As well as serving up a hearty selection of drinks and dishes from across the globe, it sells a variety of handicrafts made by local communities.