Siem Reap offers a wide range of eating and drinking options with new businesses at all price ranges opening almost daily it seems. The Old Market area is, depending on your perspective, either an exciting and vibrant place offering a vast selection of eating and drinking options that is not to be missed, or a tourist ghetto offering a vast selection of generally non-authentic eating and drinking options that should be avoided at all costs. More likely your reality will lie somewhere in between, closer to which side is entirely up to you. Personally, I would neither over nor under-emphasize the area. Go at least once and draw your own conclusions and don't feel ashamed of your opinion no matter which side of the spectrum it should fall.
The growth of the area started on what is now almost officially (there's a sign up now) known as "Pub Street"; or "Bar Street,"; depending on your choice of terminology, but food and drink options have since spread to a number of surrounding streets as well.
Siem Reap Pub Street itself would at this point, probably be more accurately known as "Food Street". With two exceptions, The Angkor What? Bar and Temple Club, as the emphasis here is now almost entirely on food opposed to drinking. That said, in the alleys and streets running both parallel and perpendicular to "Pub/Bar/Food Street" you can not only find more restaurants but many bars as well. Drinking until the wee hours of the morning remains a very viable activity here. The alleyway to the north of "Pub Street" has recently seen several new bars open, while the alleyway to the south has been filled up with restaurants.
There are also a number of restaurants along Sivatha Blvd (the main north - south road a block or so west of the market) offering a variety of Western and Asian cuisines. And more recently a string of garden style restaurants have appeared on Wat Bo Road, east of the river.
The listings here are only a sampling of what is out there and the best course of action is simply to wander the neighborhood and try out a few places, whether they are listed here or not. The temptation is to allow the Old Market/Pub Street magnet suck you into this tourist ghetto, and while definitely a worthy endeavor for consuming alcohol, you might consider that by and large, the best food options are *not* found here, but rather spread around town in less congested areas where there is less price competition that can result in an inferior product. This is not to say that there isn't good food in this area, but that there are some excellent opportunities found elsewhere - in particular farther up Sivatha and over on Wat Bo Road, and a few places like Abacus and The Touich that aren't near anything but themselves.
Head to Pub Street in the Old Market area, for a taste of nightlife in Siem Reap. A street packed with restaurants and bars, you may find practically all you need along and around this street, from street food, to pharmacies, to massage parlours to souvenir shops and so on. Although busiest at night, it is a popular hang out area for tourists in the day too.
Blue Pumpkin from the outside with tuk-tuks widely available
Blue Pumpkin located just off Pub Street, at 365 Mondol 1, is a double storey cafe serving asian and western food. The ground level is a bakery where bread and pastries are 50% off after 8pm daily – so we often stop by in the evenings to stock up on light snacks or lunch for the following day. With wifi access, this cafe is a very comfy place to chill out especially on the upper level.
a classic white interior on the upper level with inviting sofas and cool mini tray-like tables ideal for internet surfing and lounging
lunch: (left) pork with glazed pumpkin and sesame seed – not much meat served as part of the dish actually; (right) tonle sap fish
view of the street outside through the window – amidst the electrical wires
lady balancing lotus fruits on the head
young locals cycling by
Khmer Idea Restaurant
In search of Khmer food, we landed ourselves at Khmer Idea Restaurant on one of the nights. I found Khmer food to be like a milder version of a fusion of vietnamese and thai food.
beer is cheaper than water here in Cambodia
Amok Chicken – this was rather tasty, with a slight resemblance to thai green curry
The speciality at Soup Dragon is the Chhnang Dea soup served in a traditional pot made from Kompong Chnnang province. Similar to the steamboat concept, the soup stock is brought to the table and heated over a mini gas burner while we cook our meal ourselves with the ingredients like mushrooms, tofu and noodles. Excellent tender beef slices and beef balls here with a delicious soup base!
the vietnamese-like soup boiling in the earthenware pot
Pub Street at Night