Look beyond the commonplace chains and ubiquitous fast food joints and Siem Reap visitors can be treated to Khmer cuisine, both traditional and new. Our list of highly recommended eateries includes a variety of settings, from small family-run kitchens to sophisticated fine dining, each providing a flavoursome introduction to this country’s food. Khmer cooking is proudly coming into its own as a credible rival for the ever-popular cuisines of neighbouring Asian countries. Mix local flavours, such as pastes made from herbs and spices, with fresh, locally-grown ingredients and the result is a truly unique and aromatic surprise for the taste buds. Try Cambodian food at least once during your stay – you won’t regret it. Here’s our take on the best Khmer restaurants in Siem Reap.

Malis Restaurant, a high-end Cambodian restaurant, with its elegant interior and high ceilings, boasts a riverfront view, a garden with a pond, and an area reserved for Apsara dance performances. Chef Luu Meng and his team decided to revive forgotten Cambodian recipes from the past, giving them a contemporary edge. Enjoy Khmer favourites such as aromatic Fish Amok, Kampot Crab Fried Rice and chicken or beef curry served in a lotus leaf. Malis also opens for breakfast, allowing early birds to sample traditional Cambodian fish congee, Khmer rice noodle soup or beef stew noodle soup, among other tantalising favourites to start the day.

Address: Pokambor Avenue, Riverside
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday from 6:30am – 10pm
Reservations: +855 (0)15 824 888 or booking.sr@malis-restaurant.com
Website: www.malis-restaurant.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MalisRestaurantSiemReap

Created with rural Cambodian flavours in mind, The Kitchen Charcoal’s fine dining menu is complemented by a selection of fine wines. Most ingredients are homegrown or sourced from sustainable local farms. The charcoal-finished New Zealand Entrecôte steak and sea bass fillets are Charcoal’s signature dishes. Diners can discover new flavours by sharing a tasting menu, featuring influences from either Southern or Northern Cambodia. Lighter bites include fresh salads made with banana blossom or mango, traditional crepes or finish with a pineapple spring roll with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy the modern setting with a choice of indoor dining or the terrace, with a jazz music accompaniment.

Address: Wat Bo Road – Corner St. 22
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday from 10am – 2pm and from 6pm – 10pm
Reservations: +855 (0)63 966 550 or reservations@charcoalcafe.com
Website: www.charcoalcafe.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/charcoaldining

A visit to Spoons Cafe allows you to take part in the life-changing work of EGBOK (Everything’s Gonna Be OK, a charity providing education, training, and employment in the hospitality industry for underprivileged young people), while you enjoy authentic Cambodian cuisine and hospitality. Spoons is a casual eatery staffed by trainees from EGBOK, with sustainability at its heart, even down its ambitious bamboo architecture. The menu is inspired by traditional street food and countryside flavours, often bringing lesser-known Cambodian dishes to the attention of its diners. The menu includes mains such as pan-fried coconut Red Snapper or Sandek, a beet and spinach salad with sugar snap peas and rice pancake.

Address: Bamboo Street (0142, Group 5, Pave Road)
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 11.30am – 10pm. CLOSED on Sundays (From August).
Reservations: +855 (0)76 277 6667

Combining Cambodian flavours and indigenous ingredients with French techniques and artistry is the concept behind Cuisine Wat Damnak. The traditional wooden house setting allows customers to choose from three dining spaces – the relaxed tropical garden, modern air-conditioned dining room on the ground floor, or breezy, fan cooled upstairs in keeping with the house’s rustic charm. The tasting menu changes every two weeks, reflecting the availability and variety of seasonal produce, fresh and locally sourced. Expect to find dishes featuring kuy fruits, water lily stems, edible flowers, fish and seafood from the Mekong and Tonle Sap. Vegan or vegetarian adaptations can be prepared on request.

Address: Between Psa Dey Hoy Market and Angkor High School
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 6.30 pm – 9.30 pm (last order).
Reservations: +855 (0)77 347 762

This charming Cambodian wooden house is home to Café Indochine, where the traditional surroundings provide a contrasting calm to the buzzing Sivatha Street outside. Serving classic Khmer food, the centrally-located Cafe Indochine Restaurant was once the Angkor headquarters of UNESCO and the nostalgic theme continues with the iconic 1935 Citroen Traction in the forecourt and into the antique-laden dining rooms. Offering a la carte Khmer favourites and discovery menus for two people to share, the menu caters for all tastes. It also features a ‘Steak House’ offering tender locally-sourced beef fillet, served with a selection of sauces such as green pepper, blue cheese sauce or red wine.

Address: Sivutha Boulevard No. 44
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday from 11:30am – 10pm.
Reservations: +855 (0)12 964 533

Immerse yourself in the sophisticated atmosphere of Viroth’s Restaurant, which captures Cambodia’s traditions and presents them in a modern setting. The kitchen serves Khmer classics and regional specialties, locally sourced and cooked freshly to order. Try the fried curry with shrimps or minced pork grilled in kaplou leaves, and finish with one of their delectable desserts such as pumpkin custard. The restaurant also has a private air-conditioned dining room which can accommodate up to 35 guests, perfect for a special celebration. Its location on the first floor of a traditional Khmer wooden house adds ambiance to any party.

Address: 17252 Wat Bo Road
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday from 10am – 2pm and from 5pm – 10:30pm
Reservations: +855 12 826 346

Mahob being the Cambodian word for ‘food’, says it all. The menu redefines Khmer cuisine with Chef’s Specials which include the mouthwatering braised river fish fillet in palm sugar with lotus root and tamarind leaves. Set in an authentically converted Wooden House. Overlooking lush gardens, guests can choose to sit indoors, or outdoors in the garden surrounded by trees, flowers and a lotus pond. Mahob Restaurant also offers cooking classes with a farm-to-table concept at its countryside organic farm venue. Private dinners and buffets can be catered for, too, with the team’s customary hospitality.

Address: River Road
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday from 11:30am – 10:30pm
Reservations: +855 70 926 562

Mie Café offers gourmet cuisine in a traditional Khmer house setting with a fragrant garden and patio. Chef Pola prepares Khmer and western dishes combining his Swiss culinary training with knowledge of traditional Khmer dishes. Situated just north of town, Mie Café is on the road leading to Angkor Wat, making it an ideal spot for a breezy evening after visiting the ancient temples. Order the grilled prawn with Amok butter, roasted somanea seed, eggplant with coconut milk and dry cure ham from the gourmet menu or sautéed marinated minced pork, bell pepper, onion, garlic, mushroom with thyme roasted eggplant, served with steamed rice.

Address: #0085, Phum Treng Khum
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Monday from 11am – 2pm and 5:30pm – 9:15pm (last sitting)
Reservations: +855 12 791 371

This upmarket dining experience, headed by Executive Chefs Pol & Sok (also known as the ‘Kimsan Twins’) offers Siem Reap diners a Khmer gastronomy menu. At Embassy Restaurant Guests can savour the unique monthly menu of a skilfully prepared, seasonal, seven-course gastronomy set menu. Pair it with an exclusive selection of wines and you have a night to remember! The main courses might include such delicacies as caramelized beef oxtail with Kulen honey, Mondulkiri espresso coffee sauce, bamboo shoot and coconut palm heart purée. Located within the Kings Road dining and shopping complex, the restaurant offers both outdoor terrace and indoor seating with tasteful, modern décor.

Address: Street 27, King’s Road village
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday from 6:30am – 10pm
Reservations: +855 (0)89 282 911

Dine inside this traditional Khmer home or sit outside admiring the stunning tropical gardens – a peaceful and relaxing environment. Start with fresh spring rolls with seafood or the green mango salad. Traditional Khmer rice noodle soup is also served along with Khmer sour soup. Vegetarian options include tofu and black seaweed soup, fried eggplant, or the heart of banana flower salad. For the main course, sample the popular Khmer crepe, mixed seafood with green pepper, fried fish in tamarind, or the Mekong river lobster amok. Madame Butterfly also offers popular set menus featuring the kitchen team’s selection. Desserts include banana flambees, creme brulee, and dark chocolate mousse.

Address: National Road 6
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday from 10:00am – 11:00pm
Reservations: +855 63 966 281

In a lush courtyard setting, you’ll find Chanrey Tree, a traditional wooden house with a spacious al fresco dining area, serving authentic home-style cooking. The relaxed setting is the ideal place to savour dishes made from ingredients bought at local markets and presented in new and creative ways. Diners can choose from a varied menu, including beef lok lak, roasted Khmer chicken, and Tonle Sap steamed fish. Vegetarians can select, among other imaginative main courses, a green vegetable curry or a pomelo and spinach salad.Pair your meal with a wine from France, Australia, South Africa or Chile to complete your culinary adventure.

Address: Pokambor Avenue, Riverside
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday from 11am – 2:30pm and from 6pm – 10:30pm
Reservations: +855 (0)89 282 911

Still looking for inspiration? Check our business directory for even more dining options!

Clare Lawrence is a long-time expat, originally from England, with six years in the UAE under her belt as well as over a year here in Siem Reap. She has written on expat life, saving money, holidaying with children and budget travel for a number of magazines and websites, including Siemreap.net.