Eating Siem Reap

The highlights of our vacations are invariably food related, and what better way to get a terrific overview but a food tour?  After doing our research we determined Siem Reap Food Tours  to be the unanimous favorite.  We booked the evening tour which conveniently picked us up and dropped us back at our hotel in their very own Tuk Tuk.  By the way, our Tuk Tuk driver Phea was quite nice, and was proud to be the chosen driver for Angelina Jolie when she comes to town.  In fact, he had her photo displayed proudly on the roof of his vehicle.  I was a little skeptical about this, but the owner of Siem Reap Food Tours conformed it was the truth. Angelina Jolie is truly revered in Cambodia.


The tour ran about 4 hours, and cost a very reasonable $75 per person, given the copious amount of food and drink we were able to consume.  Our guide for the evening was Jen, an American ex-pat who had a real passion for Cambodian food.

Our first stop was Chan Reash 10 Makara, an open air restaurant that was most definitely un-assuming. IMG_1134

The first order of business was to hydrate, which we found was most effectively done by drinking both from a coconut and a can of local beer.


It was very steamy, but the restaurant did have fans, as well as a clean (ish) bathroom.  We were reassured of the family -owned restaurant’s commitment to cleanliness as evidenced by the fact that the cutlery was delivered to us in a mug of very hot water.  Our general motto is to just go with the flow- and have a large supply of Imodium on hand.

We began the meal with a tasty green papaya salad, a minced pork and pea dish, as well as a delicately flavored fish soup.  The Khmer food in general is quite mildly spiced.  They leave it up to the diner to regulate the spice level themselves.  This seemed a good introduction to the evening.


Our second stop (via Tuk Tuk) was a local Beer Garden/Restaurant called Mlop Sbov.  IMG_1146.jpg

Beer of course was the first order of business, though this time we tried another kind.  I think the consensus was that Angkor Beer won the battle of the Beers.


Next on the menu was a dish called Num Banh Chok, Khmer Noodles.  Mlop Sbov has a reputation for turning out the best example of this dish.

First we were brought the vegetable condiments.  Local herbs and vegetables (including a variety of hyacinth flowers) that were to be mixed in to the broth.IMG_1149.jpg

Next we received our bowl of rice noodles and a delicate broth.


Next, assorted hot peppers.


In addition, we had an entire tray of salty, sweet, sour and spicy delicacies to customize our bowl.


It is a creative, and fun endeavor.  Finally, voilà- a beautiful and tasty dish.


After two nice and light examples of local dishes, it was time to move on to some BBQ (Beef). Jen said she would take us to a VERY local and casual spot.  We were game!  She did advise us to avail ourselves of the bathroom if needed before we left Mlop Sbov, as it would be our last chance to do so.

We smelled the BBQ before we arrived.   This was most definitely a local spot.  Just a  BBQ master tending to the meat with one hand, and navigating his phone with the other.


We chose to stick with the beef BBQ, though I’m not actually sure whether there was another choice.  We ordered another round of beers, and found ourself a table.  There may have been as many dogs in the restaurant as people, as they were lured in by the smell of meat, and the habit of the people of throwing their inedible food bits to the floor.

We received our condiments first-


and then our BBQ


It had a good smoky charred taste, but was really too fatty and tough to enjoy.  This was the least successful of our stops.

On to the next!  We hopped in our Tuk Tuk and continued on to the Night Market, which was sprawling and incredibly busy.  I think as a foreigner it would be almost impossible to navigate without a guide.

Our first stop was a fruit stand, with a huge array of delectable choices.  Jen got a selection for us to try.


We continued deeper into the market and pulled up to the stand of a woman who is the best of the best in grilling all types of things on skewers- in particular chicken, and sausage stuffed frogs.


We removed our shoes and found ourselves a spot on a plastic blanket.  All around us were large groups of families and friends who were enjoying this same experience.

We started by sampling some of the goodies Jen had selected.  First up was Jackfruit.  Fun fact: Jackfruit is the flavor of Juicy Fruit gum.  This was very fascinating to me.


Next up was the rambutan, similar to the lychee.


We also devoured mangosteens so quickly I was unable to get a snap.  I love those!

Next up were the crickets.  Why not? its the protein of the future!  These were fried and tossed in some salt and spice.  Conveniently they came in a large plastic bag.


A single cricket didn’t seem to daunting.  I had one, it was crunchy and had very little flavor aside from the salt.  My husband and sons were hooked.  I was happy with my single taste.


Next up- more condiments-which were meant to enhance the chicken.IMG_1185.jpg

The chicken was actually very tasty,IMG_1194.jpg

Finally out came the stuffed frogs.  These frogs were stuffed with sausage and then grilled.  I just couldn’t motivate myself to take a taste, but all my guys did, and they pronounced them pretty tasty.


We were all full by this point.  We took our leftover crickets with us, and presented them to our driver as a treat.  Jen told us they were his favorite.

Last stop was for a sweet.  We arrived at this roadside stand which was very crowded not only for their embryonic duck eggs (sorry- couldn’t go there), but also their pa’hem- which literally translates as sweet.


This may have been my favorite dish on the tour.  It consisted of shaved ice, sticky rice, and coconut milk.  Yum!  My boys preferred the frog, but I loved this.


All in all the tour was a great introduction to Cambodian food.  Jen was very nice, and quite enjoyable to spend time with.  It wasn’t the best food tour of the trip (more reports to follow) but it was well worth it.  PS- we all needed the Imodium the next day.



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