This story is part of my list of things to do in Siem Reap »
You can spend a lot of time eating at Pub Road or around that area. We didn't actually really love any of the cafes or restaurants there but they're there if you want a Western fix. There are some wonderful restaurants that are safe to eat at where you can eat with the locals.
Cambodian BBQ at 60 Road
Back at 60 Road there are a range of sit down restaurants with a range of Cambodian BBQ restaurants where you can sit down and cook your own. I was perplexed at first as families looked like they were cooking hot pots. Cambodian BBQ is a fascinating and clever take on barbecue. Everything is cooked on a gas cooker with a dome in the centre. Lard and butter are provided as is a soup. The soup is poured around the dome and the vegetables cook in this while you spread some butter on the dome and the meat is cooked on this so you get the barbecued meat and seafood plus nicely cooked vegetables. A serving that can feed 4 will set you back $13USD and we tried Ming Ming's Seafood.
Closer in town Restaurant Chan Ras II on Sivatha Road is a place that serves incredibly tasty food. The lovely Lara from Grantourismo took us there and she explained that it is the same sort of food as the fine dining restaurants but the versions here might be slightly different. The curry may have more liquid in it because they need to stretch it further etc. Cambodians also tend to eat a lot of rice and smaller serves of protein.
Dishes at Chan Ras II
We tried the Prahok ki'Tih (a delicious pork and prahok dip with vegetables), soft braised eggplant with pork, Morning Glory with pork, a chicken and vegetable curry and a Chinese pork sausage. Everything was delicious with robust flavours and the total bill was $15USD. Oh and you can BYO too!
Chong Phov Khmer restaurant
Another great find with Lara was new restaurant Chong Phov Khmer which was probably my favourite meal in Siem Reap. Open for only a few months it is something of a secret. If you want to dine with local Cambodians but in a upmarket but casual atmosphere ex Malis chef Eng Im cooks some divine dishes that have people coming back day after day. There's the Sour Beef soup with Curry Spice and Morning Glory - don't let the word sour put you off it's one of the most perfectly balanced soups you'll ever eat.
Prahok Ki'Tih $2.50USD at Chong Phov Khmer
You will have to leave a bit of time to eat here. Everything is made by scratch and it is a alchemical combination of his experience in a top Siem Reap restaurant combined with his aunt's cooking genius. The two make a real team in the kitchen and create dishes like Beef Saraman Curry which is a cousin to the rendang. He uses New Zealand beef, peanuts and potatoes and coconut cream to create a wonderfully complex, rich curry.
Sour Beef Soup with curry spice and morning glory $2.50USD and Beer Saraman Curry at Chong Phov Khmer $5USD
The Prahok Ki'Tih (rapidly becoming one of my favourite dishes) is fantastic here with just the right amount of Prahok aka fermented fish paste while the frogs legs are for those that like to work to get to their meat with their small bones and resolute chilli hit. And all four of these dishes with rice plus a cold beer (sorry no air conditioning here) will set you back around $17USD in total!