‘Siem Reaps best coffee’ says ‘VOGUE’.

‘Siem Reaps best coffee’ says ‘VOGUE’.

All of us at The Little Red Fox is absolutely over the moon to be featured in VOGUE alongside Cuisine Wat Dam Nak, Mie Cafe and Siem Reap Food Tours!

You can find the full article at : VOGUE 

In Siem Reap, a Food Crawl Through One of Southeast Asia’s Underappreciated Cuisines

by Lisa Wong Macabasco

The Cambodian city of Siem Reap is mostly known to tourists as a base from which to explore the nearby Angkor temples. Although Westerners first began visiting the area from the early 1900s through the 1960s, Siem Reap only began to fully develop as a tourist destination after the downfall of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1990s. The five-star resorts, trendy boutiques, and upscale spas of today’s Siem Reap are a world away from the village that attracted primarily intrepid backpackers.

That’s not to say that the place doesn’t retain aspects of its pre-tourist boom: Many roads remain unpaved, tuk tuks (carriages hitched to motorcycles) are the predominant mode of tourist transport, and during the rainy season the flooding of entire streets often brings traffic to a standstill. Not to mention the enduring engimas of the temples themselves, which comprise the largest religious structure in the world and are a reminder that this area was once the bustling heart of a grand ancient civilisation.

Photo: Courtesy of William Kwok

And, beyond the tourist-facing French, Korean, and Italian restaurants, Khmer cuisine both traditional and new remains widely available in Siem Reap. Visitors can try what may be their first taste of Cambodian food in an array of settings, from roadside stalls and small family restaurants catering mainly to locals to beautifully plated tasting menus that provide tourists with a refined introduction to the cuisine. The mix of distinctive local flavors (think pastes made from herbs, spices, and salted fermented fish) and fresh indigenous ingredients (Cambodian green giant eggplant and water mimosa, for example) results in a true culinary adventure of tastes, textures, and aromas, even for the most experienced and well-traveled of palates.

A Warm and Hearty Start

Fortify yourself for a day of temple exploring with a bowl of rice porridge similar to Chinese congee (bobor) or noodle soup reminiscent of Vietnamese pho (kuy teav). Both are easily found in the morning at Siem Reap’s cafés or food markets; garnishes including fried shallots, green onions, bean sprouts, and a squeeze of lime are essential to customizing your piping-hot bowl to your taste.
Photo: Lina Goldberg / Courtesy of Siem Reap Food Tours

A Pick-Me-Up from the Up and Coming

Over the past few years, a small cluster of upscale, foreigner-oriented boutiques has sprung up around a 10-minute walk from the town center, including an art gallery, a designer eyeglasses shop, a health food and juice café, and a spa that wouldn’t look out of place on Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side. The proprietors banded together to brand the quiet, block-long Hup Guan Street and its vicinity as Kandal Village (Middle Village). Linger over what’s widely considered Siem Reap’s finest coffee at the Australian-owned The Little Red Fox Espresso. No snooty barista attitudes here, just affable Cambodian staffers, grinding up beans sourced from Phnom Penh to the groovy sounds of 1960s and early 1970s Cambodian rock. Afterwards, stroll around the block, wandering through the small shops and galleries.

Photo: Courtesy of William Kwok

Recharge by the River

Take a respite from the heat on the quiet, leafy second floor terrace of Rohatt Cafe, specializing in authentic home-style cooking. Housed in traditional Khmer-style architecture overlooking the river, the café’s menu caters to both tourist and local palates alike. Resist the temptation to order the Caesar salad and instead try the fish amok, commonly referred to as Cambodia’s national dish: a moist white fish in a mild yellow coconut curry typically infused with kaffir lime leaves and galangal (a cousin of ginger), often steamed in banana leaves. It goes down easy with a cold 50-cent Angkor Beer.

A Western Twist on Local Tastes
Swiss-trained Cambodian chef Pola Siv has assembled an extensive gourmet menu of Cambodian flavours with Western touches. Beef la ap (similar to beef tartare) comes rare and topped with ground-up red ants; the risotto is a perfect bed for buttery Tonle Sap fish; a carpaccio of snakehead fish is balanced with a tempura-poached egg. Set away from the street in a traditional Khmer house, the dining is serene, alfresco, candlelit, and wonderfully fresh. You may even spy a friendly staffer tiptoeing through the kitchen garden in front to pull some herbs to garnish your cocktail.
Photo: Lina Goldberg / Courtesy of Siem Reap Food Tours

A Bite Here and a Bite There

Get way beyond the guidebook and take one of the excellent Siem Reap Food Tours. Expertly navigated by Scottish chef Steven Halcrow or American writer Lina Goldberg, your small group will zip around town on tuk tuks, stopping at a handful of eateries to sample their specialties and learn more about ingredients native to the country and Cambodian cooking and dining customs.

You might try nom banh chok (Khmer noodles), perhaps the most widely eaten dish in the country and one that Halcrow says “is very close to Cambodian people’s hearts” (Cambodians apparently claim that China learned about noodles from them thanks to this dish). Fresh rice noodles are paired with a mixture of prahok (fermented fish) and sweet palm sugar and then topped with crisp raw vegetables, some of which you’ve tasted before (cucumbers, basil, mint) as well as some you may have not (banana blossom, water lily stems).

Other stops on the tour may include a place that serves only duck soup made from a family recipe as well as a joint known for grilled beef, eaten Cambodian style with raw vegetables and fermented fish sauce. The meat pairs well with Black Panther, a strong Cambodian stout that, with an alcohol content of roughly 8 percent, will help you build courage toward your final stop: The Road 60 night market, where you’ll come face to face with deep-fried crickets, silkworms, and tarantulas and embryonic duck eggs. Even if you’re squeamish, you should at least try a bite of stuffed frog—it really does taste like (delicious) chicken.
Photo: Courtesy of William Kwok

A Fresh Take on Ancient Flavours

The Siem Reap area is teeming with vegetables, fish, and game indigenous to the surrounding fields, the nearby Tonle Sap Lake, and the Mekong River, but most produce in Siem Reap is still imported from outside the country. When French chef Joannès Rivière opened Cuisine Wat Damnak in 2011, he was one of the first to use local ingredients and French culinary techniques to prepare Cambodian meals for tourists. In less than five years, the restaurant made the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, where it was named the best restaurant in Cambodia. The tasting menus change every two weeks, showcasing what’s fresh, in season, and available from nearby farms and foragers. Much of it may seem unfamiliar—leopard eel jungle curry, coconut tree heart, ambarella and kuy fruits— but fortune favors the brave. Both the five- and six-course menus are under $30—a remarkable value given the stunning quality and inventiveness of the dishes.

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