The 10 Best Cambodian Street Food Dishes in Siem Reap
Everybody talks about Vietnamese street food, but you may not know that Cambodian street food is just as delicious and tasty. Here is my guide to the incredible world of Cambodian food, all of which you can easily find when travelling in Siem Reap. Check out my personal top ten!
1. Chicken Ley
Chicken ley is grilled chicken marinated in a sweet and sour sauce. In Siem Reap there is one stall in particular that makes absolutely the best in town. Go towards the riverside where the old market is, you’ll find it in front of the pharmacy. It’s perhaps not the most typical, but it won me over!
2. Lort Cha
Lort cha are fried rice noodles, but a particular type of noodles, these are much shorter and much bigger. They are stir-fried with various vegetables and meats and they come topped with a fried egg. As well as the majority of the food in Cambodia they are seasoned with sugar, that’s the extra taste you may find in these dishes. They are not sweet, they are simply addictive.
3. Nom Pao
Nom pao (steamed pork bun) is originally from China but adapted to the local culture and generally eaten for breakfast. You may have seen these big closed metal pots along the streets in Siem Reap. That’s what is inside: a big steamed dumpling made with bread and filled with a sausage-like meat and eggs.
4. Fish Amok
Fish amok is described as Cambodia’s most traditional dish. It’s a creamy sweet curry made with fillets of freshwater fish and cooked in coconut milk, vegetables, eggs, fish sauce and palm sugar. It is usually served in a bowl made of banana leaves and accompanied with plain rice. If you are starting your discovery through Cambodian cuisine I highly recommend you start with this dish!
5. Lok Lak
Lok lak is one of the dishes which best represents Cambodian cuisine. You will be surprised instead to discover that it has Vietnamese origins and was born at the time of the French colonisation. The Cambodian lok lak is made up of pieces of meat (mainly beef) marinated and sautéed in a pan, then laid on lettuce leaves, tomatoes and onion. Usually, it comes with a bowl of plain rice topped with an egg, like many Cambodian dishes. A sauce of pepper and lime in which you can dip the meat completes the dish.
6. Mee Cha
Mee cha (fried noodles) are maybe one of the most popular foods in Cambodia. You can find this literally everywhere and in different varieties, from beef to pork, from chicken to vegetables, and even in different ingredients and sizes of noodles! Just choose your favourite one, you won’t be disappointed. Interesting fact: people eat mee cha at all hours of the day.
Crocodile in every shape or form: in curry, fried with rice, deep fried, as a steak…even as carbonara! Really, however you would like it, you will find it! Crocodile is good, it changes consistency according to how you cook it, sometimes it might be more similar to fish but sometimes to chicken too. It’s interesting, and you should give it a go! Siem Reap is full of crocodile farms as these animals are very appreciated all throughout the country.
8. Khmer BBQ
Khmer BBQ is not a real plate, I know, it’s more related to eating traditions but I couldn’t write about Cambodian street food without mentioning Khmer barbecue. As you might know, barbecues are quite popular around Asia, including Cambodia. Barbecue is a nice way to share a dinner with friends, it makes it more participatory and oriented to food taste. Raw vegetables, marinated meats and seafood all have a better flavour if shared and cooked together.
9. Tropical Fruits
Tropical fruits are simply the best. You can pick a random market around the city, if you go for a walk, you’ll find plenty and just be overwhelmed with the variety of flavour and colour fruits. Mangoes, avocados, bananas, passionfruit never tasted as delicious as here… While you’re at it, I suggest you also get a smoothie or a juice in one of the stalls around the city. It is definitely worth it, especially in one of those really hot Cambodian days!
10. Check Chien
Check chien is a banana cut in half, rolled in a rice flour-sugar-black sesame batter and deep fried. Like many Cambodian dishes, it is something that is easily found on the streets. However, even though it would be a perfect midnight snack, it is a day snack meaning that it is mostly available only until about 5:30pm.
Cambodian street food is simply amazing, but food is only one way to immerse yourself in a country’s culture. People are the real glue, it is the locals who make a place really special. So my advice is, if you ever have the chance, go eat at a local’s house. That would be far the best way for you to discover Cambodia, which is more than just the Angkor Wat temples.
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