Siem Reap has guests from all over the world. Of course, you can expect to find international food in Cambodia's tourist hub. Apart from Western and Chinese food, you have a wide range of Indian restaurants in the town centre.
There is a variety cheap street food available, too, soups, baguette sandwiches, or fried noodles. Fried noodles or rice are called Mi Chaa and Bai Chaa respectively. Baguette (Nom Pang) is a French legacy, of course. It is quite popular, particularly with slices of ham or grilled meats, vegetables and chilly paste. Cambodians are said to eat more bread than any other people in Asia.
Many street sellers offer fresh fruits for a reasonable price, pineapple, mango, melon and papaya are most popular. They are also sold at parking lots in front of Angkor temples. Durian, mangosteen and sapodilla are in high regard. Fresh coconut can be found everywhere.
Two kinds of restaurants are quite popular among both foreign guests and Cambodian locals. Cambodians love BBQ food. And many restaurants introduced a buffet system, with a kind of Mongolian firepot at your table. At buffet restaurants, the variety of meat and fish is huge.
But do not forget, Siem Reap is inhabited by Cambodians, and they also like to go to restaurants, on average they do it more often than Westerners in their homecountries. Locals can afford to eat in Khmer restaurants only because of very low prices. Those local restaurants, of course, can be visited by foreigners, too. For less than a US dollar, for example, you can have a tasty and healthy and filling breakfast. In the morning, Cambodians prefer to eat soup, with so-called Chinese or with instant noodles. This most popular dine out dish is a pork (or beef or seafood) rice noodle broth with garlic oil and lime juice, served with lettuce leaves, bean sprouts, fried garlic and onions, it is called Kuy Theav. It may also contain toppings such as beef balls, shrimp or lettuce. Flavourings are added to the customers taste in the form of lime juice, chili powder, sugar and fish sauce.
Alternatively, there is served a porridge, but not in the Western style. Babor is a kind of broth with boiled grain instead of noodles and with fresh bean sprouts, onions, fried breadsticks and a lot of spicy ingredients, with regional variants. Babor Pray is salted dried fish with rice porridge.
Of course, rice is the staple grain in Cabodia. Fish from the Tonle Sap is the most important source of protein. The most traditional Cambodian dish is a pungent type of fermented fish paste for long storage, quite salty. It is called Prahoc. Maybe the taste is a little bit strange for Westerners, but visiting Cambodia - and most guests fall in love with this country - you should, at least once, try what the locals love. Prahoc can be a dish as well as an ingredient for seasoning. But Prahoc is never used with noodle dishes.
Typical other Khmer dishes are:
Amok is one of the well known Cambodian dishes. It is a coconut milk curried dish with fish (usually snakehead fish), shrimp, or chicken, plus some vegetables, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. A local herb called Slok Ngor imparts a bitter flavor, that separates the Cambodian version from those of the neighbouring countries. It is sometimes served in a hollowed-out coconut with rice on the side. It is less spicy than in Thailand.
Nom Banh Chok is a beloved Cambodian dish, so much so that in English it's called simply "Khmer noodles." The dish consists of rice noodles topped with a green curry gravy made from fish, lemongrass, turmeric root and kaffir lime. Mint leaves, bean sprouts, green beans, are heaped on top.
Somlah Machou Khmae is a sweet and sour soup made with pineapple, tomatoes and fish.
Bai Sarch Chrouk is served for breakfast, too. Bai is rice, sarch chrouk is pork. And that's what you get. The meat is often barbecued. Sometimes the pork will be marinated in coconut milk or garlic. It is one of the simplest Cambodian dishes.
Saik Chrouk Cha Knyei is pork fried with ginger.
Lok Lak is rice with pieces of beef, cooked quickly as in the French cuisine. It is served with a dipping sauce called "Lemon Pepper" made from lime juice, black pepper, lettuce, and lots of flavour enhancer.
Chhar are stir-fry dishes with vegetables such as cabbage, bamboo shoots, ginger and mushrooms.
Lap Khmer is a lime-marinated Khmer beef salad, salty and slightly sweet, with ceviche-style cooked beef slices.
Khmer food is less spicy than Thai food. Black pepper is preferred over chillis. Cambodians love sour tastes in their dishes. Preserved lemons are used in many Khmer dishes to enhance the sourness.
Khmer sometimes sweeten soups and other salty dishes, but the use of sugar is less widespread than Thailand.
A popular typical Cambodian sweet dessert is Tuk-a-loc, a blended drink of fruits, raw egg, sweetened condensed milk and ice.
Cha Houy Teuk is jelly dessert made with agar agar, a gelatin that is derived from seaweed. It is often coloured in green or pink. Combined with mung beans and coconut cream, it is usually served in a bowl with a scoop of ice.
Sticky rice is consumed as a dessert, too, often with slices of tropical fruits and coconut milk.
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