- Jessica Dawdy
Best known as the gateway to Cambodia’s famous UNESCO World Heritage site of Angkor Wat, Siem Reap attracts thousands of tourists from around the world every year. The city’s restaurant scene has evolved to please this diverse group of tourists, expats, and locals, offering something for almost every budget and taste. This an updated version of an earlier guide to Siem Reap’s best restaurants, which can be found here.
Blossom Cafe and Training Centre
One snack at Blossom Cafe and Training Centre will prove why it’s ranked as the #1 restaurant in Siem Reap on TripAdvisor. The café is known for its delicious and beautifully decorated cakes, cookies, and cupcakes, with addictive flavours like mango cake with passionfruit cream cheese, and chocolate cherry cheesecake with chocolate ganache. In addition to offering freshly baked treats that are well-worth trying, Blossom is actually a training café that provides vocational training and employment opportunities for Cambodian women. Customers are encouraged to linger and take advantage of the free Wi-Fi, while enjoying a Fairtrade tea or coffee.
Cuisine Wat Damnak
Head Chef Johannes Rivieres describes Cuisine Wat Damnak’s style as ‘Cambodian food with a French sensitivity’. The menu combines Rivieres’ deep knowledge of Khmer cuisine with seasonal produce, to create non-traditional Cambodian dishes. Often incorporating edible flowers and local fruits, the restaurant offers two set degustation menus that change weekly. Careful attention is paid to ingredient selection and presentation, with typical dishes including river prawns with clear yellow curry, and honey roasted pork breast with eggplant salad. There are three separate dining areas, including a tropical garden, air-conditioned dining room, and traditional wooden house.
The name isn’t a metaphor: Bugs Café literally specializes in insect-based dishes, including scorpions; crickets; grasshoppers; and tarantulas. The insects are cooked into tapas-sized portions, using a fusion of Khmer and French cooking techniques and seasonings. For diners that are feeling less adventurous, most of the dishes can be prepared without insects as well. The restaurant also offers a great selection of cocktails, which might help a few diners work up the courage to try the olive and parmesan cupcakes, garnished with crickets and silkworms, or the scorpion and green papaya salad.
Destination Dining is based on a unique concept: there’s only one table. Although this private dining experience is ideal for a romantic couples’ dinner, the restaurant can accommodate up to six people. Diners are seated in an intimate pavilion on a lotus pond, the perfect location to sip wine and admire the sunset. With no other diners to attend to, it’s almost guaranteed to be the most attentive service you’ll ever experience. The set menu includes welcome drinks, a bottle of wine, starters, entrees, and even a cab back to your hotel afterwards. As you would expect, there’s only one booking per night, so it’s important to make a reservation beforehand.
With family ownership and a warm, welcoming atmosphere, Father’s Restaurant is certainly appropriately named. Offering a mix of Khmer, Chinese, and Western food, the affordable prices and friendly atmosphere make it a popular choice for locals and budget travelers. Menu highlights include the banana flower salad (which can be mixed with a choice of pork, chicken or beef), and the fried waterlily with shrimp. If diners don’t see anything on the menu they like, special requests are always welcomed. If the ingredients are available, the staff are more than willing to accommodate.
Father’s Restaurant, 239 Street 9, Siem Reap, Cambodia, +855 92 963 242
Nest Angkor Café and Bar
Khmer-owned and staffed, Nest Angkor Café and Bar offers a diverse menu of modern Khmer cuisine, along with Japanese, Thai, and Western dishes, all of which are equally well-prepared. It’s an ideal spot for an indecisive group of diners, with choices ranging from Australian BBQ to California rolls, in addition to more local dishes, like the steamed fish fillet with amok sauce, broccoli and rice. Aside from the excellent choice of dishes, the restaurant is also known for its extensive drinks menu, which includes a vast selection of cocktails and wines. The laid-back setting is furnished with exotic plants and mattresses to lounge on, with mellow R&B, soul, and disco music providing the soundtrack.
Nest Angkor Café and Bar, Sivatha Boulevard, Siem Reap, Cambodia, +855 (0)63 966 381
Affordable and authentic, Selantra Restaurant is a great choice for anyone looking to try well-prepared Khmer cuisine. The restaurant takes its name from the herb ‘cilantro’. Typical dishes include Khmer chicken leg curry and fish amok. Recently renovated, the restaurant is structured as a resto-lounge, where guests can come for a full meal or just chill out with a cocktail. Set across two traditional shop houses, the restaurant is playfully decorated with plants and artwork, and often features the work of local artists.
The Blue Pumpkin
Opened in 2000, The Blue Pumpkin’s success over the last 14 years has led the original restaurant to expand into numerous franchises across Cambodia. It began as a bakery, but quickly began to specialise in the ice-creams and gelatos for which it is now well-known. The atmosphere is relaxed, the staff are friendly, and the seating is comfortable enough that you might want to stick around for second helpings. Try the pistachio or the green lemon and kaffir lime flavours.
The Blue Pumpkin, Sivatha Rd, Siem Reap, Cambodia, +855 63 968 898
The Dining Room at Park Hyatt
Combining an interior designed by an award-winning architect and a menu created by top chefs, it’s no surprise that The Dining Room at Park Hyatt is said to serve some of the best Khmer food in the city. The menu features traditional Khmer dishes, along with a few French-inspired innovations. Highlights include the wok-fried beef-strip loin with toasted rice and lemongrass, and the Australian roast rack of lamb, with rosemary and garlic. The best place to soak up the atmosphere is out on the veranda, where diners can enjoy the view of a towering 100-year-old banyan tree.
The Dining Room at Park Hyatt, Sivutha Boulevard, Siem Reap, Cambodia, +855 (0)6321 1234
A favourite of locals and tourists, Viroth’s Restaurant’s interior features several different seating areas, which are illuminated with romantic lighting. The tables are separated by silk screens to create a more intimate atmosphere. The elegant furnishings might leave some assuming the restaurant charges high prices to match, yet Viroth’s well-balanced menu of Khmer cuisine is surprisingly affordable. While the setting is undeniably lovely, the attention-to-detail shown in the dishes is what really keeps diners returning again and again. The comfortable surroundings encourage diners to slow down and savour dishes like prahoc grilled in banana leaf, and sweet and sour fish.
Viroth’s Restaurant, #246 Street Wat Bo, Siem Reap, Angkor, Cambodia, +855 (0)12 826 346
By Jessica Dawdy