Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chomping at the Bit in Cambodia

In celebration of Thaipusam and KL's long four day weekend, we took off for Siem Reap to mingle with the Khmers and see Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm [the temple Angelina Jolie raided as Lara Croft] in all their monochromatic glory. While I knew these sights would provide a plethora to write home about, I had no idea I'd fall so in love with Khmer food...and even cart a container of Amok seasoning back to Malaysia!

Thanks to suggestions from artist-blogger Loven Ramos, we wined and dined at some of the most appetizing spots in the city. And since I can't wait to return for seconds, here is the holy grail of lists to help navigate your way through Siem Reap's crème de la crème:

Sugar Palm. Cambodian cuisine with an International flair, all in a tree house-esque setting.

Viroth's. Asian cuisine in an al fresco environment. And a random [and somewhat embarrassing] side note: do not skip out on the cheese sandwich. We ordered one, which led to an additional three orders...after we had already finished lunch.

Restaurant Le Grand. Located in the beautiful Raffles Hotel, an institution since 1927 and Siem Reap's first hotel. Men should wear pants or the hotel will provide a sarong. We know this from first-hand experience.

Le Bistrot. Multi awarded French Indochina restaurant in the lovely Victoria Hotel. Be sure to stop and see the tiny crocodiles in the lobby's pond, and take a stroll through the lovely gift shop.

Abacus. Newly re-opened, it's the only reliable non-hotel high-end diner in town. The frequently changing menu reflects both Euro and Asian influences.

AHA. We threw caution to the wind and ordered green mango and dried snake salad [Hey, when in Rome...] and a few other nonconventional delights. The portions are perfect for tasting—and sharing with other adventurous eaters.

Blue Pumpkin. If I had a nickel for every time we stopped for a 1-scoop cone! So many refreshing fruit flavors to choose from and the perfect anecdote to the tropical heat.

Khmer Kitchen. You'll certainly feel like a tourist sitting in the middle of Pub Street's commotion, but the food is worth its salt. This is a Lonely Planet favorite.

Cambodian BBQ. Not for the faint of heart, but if nothing else it's a worthy photo op. Nosh on grilled crocs, snakes and ostrich, among many, many others!

...And once your day is done, hop in a funky tuk-tuk and head to a nearby watering hole to wet your whistle:

Miss Wong. A charming little cocktail nook at the Passage. Such a comfortable and cozy way to end a day of temple touring!

Elephant Bar. Sit back and unwind in rattan chairs at this luxurious cellar bar in the Raffles Hotel.

Picasso. Latin tapas bar by the Alley West and next door to Loven's boutique, Poetry.

FCC. The former mansion of the French Governor General converted into a chic lounge is perfect for a nightcap under the stars. We were smitten with the white sangria, and über comfortable lounge chairs.

[photos via Lonely Planet and Steve McCurry.]


Candace said...

Beautiful pictures! Looks like a fun trip!

Brand New and Beautiful said...

Viroth's runs an awesome hotel in SR, too. Only 10 or so rooms but a very hip and intimate ambiance.

Kate (Embarrassment of Riches) said...

Oh, Pub Street...what amazing times. I could relocate to Cambodia in a heartbeat.

Yoli said...

Thank you, we are planning a trip in the near future and this is perfect.

Courtney said...

Kate: We all said the same thing. I absolutely adored Cambodia! Every single bit of it.

Yoli: You'll have a ball! Let me know if you have questions while you're planning the trip.

Ann said...

Wow, this list of suggestions looks great! Can't wait to try them when we go! Thanks for posting.

{lovely little things} said...

You lucky girl, I would love to go there!

arollerskatingjam said...

Sounds like Loven gave you some great info! Did you already have him on your radar, or was my suggestion the reason you contacted him?