There is some phenomenal food in Siem Reap, Cambodia. For two unique — and incredibly delicious — experiences, I recommend the two restaurants affiliated with the Amansara resort.
Traditional Breakfast near Srah Srang
Within the Angkor Archeological Park, the Amansara has a rustic Khmer village house where you can enjoy a traditional breakfast after a morning tour of the temples. The village house is located near the shore of Srah Srang, one of the Angkor barays or reservoirs. Gaze at the temple ruins at the western edge of Srah Srang or take a stroll through the kitchen garden and try to guess which herbs and vegetables will make it into your breakfast selection. Or lounge on the verandah and admire the brilliant plumage of the resident rooster while a chef prepares your meal over a traditional charcoal brazier.
There are several options for breakfast, but if you are only able to eat here once, make sure you have the traditional nom ben chok. This soup is kind of a cross between a Thai green curry and khao soi (Chiang Mai’s traditional dish). The rice noodles are fresh (very rare, as this is a time-consuming process) and tender, and the coconut green curry broth sparkles with flavour. You can doctor it up specifically to your liking with chili peppers, Kampot sea salt and fresh lime.
Breakfast is also served with skewers of fresh fruit at the peak of ripeness, fresh orange or lime juice, coffee or tea (try the ginger), and a sampling of sweets. I tried the nom kroch (a coconut lentil “doughnut”), nom jek bok (steamed banana cake), and nom korng (a doughnut sprinkled with palm sugar, and my favourite of the three).
Read more about an amazing morning you can have with Amansara HERE, in an article I wrote for LuxuryAndBoutiqueHotels.com. A walk through an empty Angkor Wat in the dark is an experience not to be missed!
You can also have a picnic lunch or a twilight champagne dinner at Amansara’s village house. Srah Srang is one of the best places to see the sun set near the temples. If you’re looking to impress your sweetheart, watch the sunset reflected in the still waters of Srah Srang; in the dry season the dusty air can make the sun look spectacularly round and red. Then have a romantic dinner for two (with just your chef, server and musician for company) courtesy of Amansara. Mad Men Lunch
Love the long leisurely lunches they had in the 60s, with the chic decor featured on Mad Men (with or without the liquid libations)? Then reserve a table at the Amansara resort’s restaurant, near the Angkor National Museum (and hidden discretely behind an un-signed white wall). The circular dining room is super chic with its seven meter ceilings and 60s vibe. It was easy for me to imagine Jacqueline Kennedy, wearing her trademark pillbox hat, lunching in the corner (she was once a guest here; the building was a former guesthouse of King Sihanouk and then a state guesthouse).
I wish I had had room to finish everything, as every dish was perfect. My favourites were probably the nhoam svay moek oeng (green mango salad with grilled squid) and the char kdóut trei (stir fried fish, lemongrass, holy basil and peanuts). The gazpacho was pretty amazing too.
Unbelievably, I was able to try each dessert on my sampler tray as well. A dense moist coconut cake with lemon curd; a custard tart with dragon fruit, mango and papaya; and three flavours of housemade ice cream (ginger, vanilla and coconut) with a caramel almond tuille. Luckily the kitchen packed their signature brownies, wrapped in banana leaves, for me to enjoy later.
Less like the 60s, Chef Rigg selects her ingredients with care. Everything is sourced to maximize flavour and healthfulness, and this means using many locally sourced products. For example, my bar fish was from nearby Tonle Sap lake, the salt and pepper are from Kampot, and the rice is Ibis rice, the best I’ve tasted (and produced sustainably and certified as wildlife friendly). During my visit, the heirloom tomatoes and radishes from the Srah Srang house garden were ripe and highlighted my salad.
And if you want to go for a more traditional Mad Men style meal, the wine and cocktail lists are extensive. My South African Obikwa chenin blanc was crisp and had the tropical aroma of guava, perfect for my mix of Cambodian and western dishes. Siem Reap’s Amansara is the place to go for exquisite service, understated luxury, ultimate privacy and incredible dining. They have 24 suites, half of them with private pools. Their spa is not to be missed – especially after a few hours spent at the temples.
To find out more, visit their website HERE.
Note: I was a guest of the Amansara, but these opinions are my own and no one from the resort reviewed or approved my text.