There is a considerable variety of Khmer traditional restaurant that the local Siem Reap like to dine, though some are more preferable than the others. For starter, if we are talking about soup or known as “Somlor” in Khmer, it is a whole endless topic. There is also some stand-alone dish like Khmer Noodle or “Num Banhjok” which requires the traditional noodle, some vegetables, and fish. Cambodian consume many types of meat, noticeably pork, beef, chicken, duck, frog (only when it is available), and fish. Prahok is also Khmer most essential ingredient like Western cheese. Because of the culture of Cambodian dining, which is eating, while sitting on the floor usually covered only a big carpet, restaurant tends to provide a sense of Khmer traditional dining as well.
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Top 10 Khmer Traditional Restaurant in Siem Reap
1. Pot N Pan
If you are at the end of Sivutha road, turn left at the corner of the cinema Major Cineplex, and behind it, you will find a small restaurant. It dresses up in black with a more western decoration yet shows that there is Khmer traditional food inside. The shop opens from somewhere around 7 in the morning straight to 11 o’clock at night. It is a quiet place for those who seek a silent meal in this noisy city. A glass of cold water is provided once you take your seat, and it takes them about fifteen minutes to get your food ready.
Some foods there has a very authentic taste of Khmer traditional flavor. For example, there is the ironic Vietnamese Soup, Tek Krueng (fish mixed with Prohok), Tomyam Soup, and the list goes on. The price range of the Khmer food in this place can go up from $3.5 to 7$, but one person usually spends less than $5 for a decent meal there. After the meal, a waiter would come to clear all the plates to give space for their customer to enjoy chatting casually.
2. Jing Jang
Yes, the name is exactly what it sounds like. It is a medium open-air Khmer traditional restaurant on the small road leading up from the Pannasastra University of Cambodia. It opens from 8 am until 9 pm. Because it is in the area surrounded by schools, its customers are likely to be students and teachers. In this particular place, you can choose to sit on the well-polished wooden chairs and dine on the table. Otherwise, there are about ten little cottages with small Japanese-like tables for you. Once you enter the restaurant, the air around you changes immediately. There are many green plants all around and over you and big pots with colorful fish to soothe your sight.
You will receive a glass of ice wherever you sit. Because the restaurant houses some selective Khmer traditional food, the best time to dine the local dish there would be lunch. Its best food is mostly stirred dishes, so ordering soups are less recommended. You can have the hot-stirred beef, Lok Lak, or stirring morning glory. The food has an average cost of $3 per dish making it affordable for most locals. The time that it takes for the food to be ready might be a bit too slow, but then they have the music on for you to sit and relax. You can sit as long as you want there even after your meal.
3. Chanras III
A very convenient location, which is the opposite of KFC, Chanras III opens from 7 in the morning until 10 at night. These conveniences encourage the locals to dine there, especially those who are busy with little time to cook themselves. The decoration there is pretty much what a common Khmer restaurant looks like except some funny creative equipment. As soon as you take your seat, the waitress will come with menus for each of you and a glass of ice that last as long as the whole meal.
The best part of Chanras III is that it hosts an impressive number of Khmer traditional food. Yes, about 130 of them, not to mention the hybrid ones. It might be a bit overwhelmed just to see the menu. The time it takes for you to decide the dish might be the same time it needs to cook it! The most recommended dish is the sour soup because of the sharpness of its taste, which Khmer traditional taste tends to be. You can order Mju Prolet a sour soup with a spicy stirred chicken. Tom Yam is also very good with all those fresh shrimp. The best part is most dishes cost only $3. With two dishes, three people could enjoy the meal with a buffet of white steamed rice.
The restaurant should be rated 3.5/5 because of its great authentic taste, its location, and its affordable prices.
4. La Boulangerie Café
With a name as French as it gets, it is inevitable to see some western dishes like other regular restaurants. Many people usually go there for their salad, pizza, or pastry. But besides these dishes, there are also several notable Khmer traditional dishes there. It locates on the roundabout of Old Market, opening from 8 until 11. The shop is well decorated in a modern elegant style with the lights as soothing as the atmosphere can be.
The price of food ranges up from $3.5, and the dish takes around 10 to 20 minutes depending on what you order. Khmer traditional cuisine tends to take more time which understandable. But the waiters would keep you warm with their company while you wait. A stirred chopped piece of pork with grilled eggplant is a very good try for the first choice. You can also order a stirred dish of tomato with pork and Lok Lak with beef and some feel-good vegetables.
5. Neary Khmer
The name of the restaurant, which means “Khmer Woman” in English, is living up to its name. If you drive past Sokha Hotel on road 6 about a kilometer, turn right on a smaller road for about 2 minutes and you will see the restaurant on your left hand. You can’t miss it because the building is so elegant and very distinctive. It is recommended that you go for lunch there because it is the best meal out of that place. The decoration is well prepared from the building, the wall, the dining ball room, to the dining tables themselves, not to mention the air-conditional.
This restaurant might be the fanciest diner, so the price range comes with no surprise. With two dishes of food and two people to join your lunch, it would cost each person at least 6$. For some customers, who preferred the dish to not taste as strong as its original Khmer traditional flavor, Amok is one of the options. You can also order fried eggs with Fish Proma, a very traditional dish, and another one would be a plate of any stirring dish. Your food would arrive within an unbelievable ten-minute. You can finish off your meal with a bowl of desert given free of charge after you are all done.
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6. Grilled Beef Corner House or “Ptas Keng Ko Dot”
If you can find Temple Bakery, then you are closer to Grilled Beef Corner House than you think. Take around a two-minute walk and you will see a very busy Khmer-vibe restaurant. Please do come only after 5 in the evening because that will be the time they start serving you food.
Unlike most restaurants mentioned here, this place specializes in a particular set of Khmer traditional food. Grilled beef is its It. Many places sell it too, so why is this one different? What distinguishes this place from others is its sauce. The sauce used for the grilled beef is a mix of fish paste or Prohok, Khmer ancient ingredient, with some lemongrass, chilies, nuts as well as a few drops of lime. It is probably the best in town and with a price of $3 a dish makes it even more popular. You also get to have various vegetables with this sauce.
7. Khmer Noodle or Num Banhjok on Road 60
This is not about a very specific Khmer traditional restaurant. It is not even about a restaurant, to begin with. It is regarding the most renowned Khmer traditional dish sold in various stalls in a very specific street food area in Siem Reap. Khmer Noodle with its original green fish soup has had its story dated back to ancient time, but that is another story to talk on my next topic. If you have not found anything to eat yet in the evening, ask someone to get to road 60. No one will say they have no idea where it is.
Everyone in Siem Reap knows the most conventional taste of this dish stays in Prahdak district, a very far district from the city. Thanks to Road 60, people from Prahdak can sell their Khmer Noodle there, and people from the city can enjoy a delicious dinner within a ten-minute drive from the city center with each dish cost just about a dollar and half! You can also try curry made in a very Cambodian way as well with the Khmer Noodle.
8. MotherHome Kitchen
By now, readers should have known that Highway road 6 is no stranger to Khmer Traditional restaurants. This next restaurant is a bit small and tends to be missed if you don’t pay attention to your left side after passing the first traffic light from Sokha Hotel. The restaurant opens from 7:30 in the morning until 10 o’clock at night, so breakfast, lunch, or dinner should not be a problem.
The first things that waiters there do after you have your seat are giving you a cold scented towel to clean your face, a small bowl or roasted nuts, and glass with cubical ice along with a pot of guaranteed hot tea. Your order will be served after around 15 to 20 minutes a dozen minutes after they lay all the spoons and forks on your table. It is probably one of the restaurants where no order could go wrong. However, while you’re there, try the stirred eggplant with pork, Lok Lak, or Stirred Krosang Teab with beef. They are dishes that keep some customers going back there. The price starts from $2.5 and can get as high as $7 per dish. A bowl of desert or fruit would be provided a few minutes after your plates are all cleared.
9. LyLy Restaurant
A lesser-known place among all mentioned, it is still worth going there to try the Khmer traditional food. It situates the opposite of Angkor High School. It is open from 7 in the morning until 9 at night. A pretty small diner, and most of the time, you would only find the local dining there. There is not much decoration if at all, and the dining atmosphere can get a bit hectic sometimes. Its chef as well as owner originates from Battambang, another destination if you want good food and fruit.
There are just around two dozens of very selective Khmer dishes. You may try the infamous Cambodian Korko with fish, stirred mushroom with pork, and hot spicy stirred chicken with some leaves. The food will be done in a fifteen-minute span, and some might find it impossible for Korko to be ready this quick. The taste is unbelievably strong to the authenticity of the Khmer conservative food texture. It feels like the food you eat at home which is carefully cooked. There is also shocking news adding to this. Some three plates combine together cost just about $5!
10. Mlop Svay Kiet
If you have been touring the temples the whole morning, where should you go for lunch? Going back to the city for lunch and back to the temple sounds like a colossal waste of time. Go to Sras Srong instead. Take a ride along the quieter side of the small man-made lake around five minutes. You will find this Khmer traditional restaurant name Mlop Svay Kiet facing the water surrounded by a lot of trees. It is best if you arrive there one hour before your lunchtime, so you can have your wider choices of the seat.
The price of this place might cost more than most places of the nine above, but it is totally worth it. Order Grilled Chicken, a sour soup known as Sngor Ngam Ngov, and a stirred Morning Glory with Chicken inner organs. Sit on the hammock provided and chit chat or play Uno as you prefer best for your team. When the food is ready, six people can enjoy it and split the cost of around $5 each. You can stay there as long as you want and as comfortable as the place allow you to.
My Top Three
With all the ten places pointed out, I still believe my favorite would be the three places as the following. These three places serve traditional Khmer food, but they provide something extra special.
If you want to stay somewhere quiet as long as you want and enjoy the greenish scenery all around you, Mlop Svay Kiet is the best choice. Not only the food and the atmosphere are refreshing, but the owner makes it his mission to serve you with the friendliness you can detect from a mile away.
Mother Kitchen probably has the best combination of a restaurant. It has a very delicious variety of Khmer traditional dishes. It is all about giving and welcoming. The background music is usually perfect. The price is reasonable considering all the services it has provided.
LyLy Restaurant is your best choice if you would like to not just taste the food but also observe the way Khmer folks live and eat. And in addition to this full-blown Khmer-vibe experience, you also get to have a very decent authentic Khmer traditional meal that costs less than a ride on Tuk Tuk to Angkor Wat.
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