We all know that Siem Reap has a fantastic dining scene. And the even better news for those who lead a vegan lifestyle, whether through choice or for dietary reasons, is that Cambodia’s little temple town is also packed with great restaurants to eat vegan – meaning you can continue to eat delicious, nutritious food while you’re visiting.
As well as an extensive vegan selection on the menu at our very own Baby Elephant, Siem Reap’s vegan-friendly restaurants make for a diverse foodie scene that has something for everyone. These are some of our favourite places for fantastic vegan food in Siem Reap.
New on the Siem Reap restaurants scene, La Pasta is – you guessed it – an Italian restaurant with a focus on fresh, organic pasta dishes. But even as a relative newcomer, this family-run place is picking up rave reviews left, right and centre for its authentic Italian dishes, which include special vegan and vegetarian menus.
Highlights among the selection of vegan antipasti include Sicily’s famous caponata aubergine stew – which here even has cocoa powder thrown into the mix. Vegan pastas run the gamut from no-egg lasagna to mushroom Bolognese and tofu-and-shiitake-bacon carbonara, vegan parmesan appears across the board, and there are even vegan meatballs made from a mix of breadcrumbs, mushrooms and rice.
Aside from the eponymous pasta dishes, the vegan, vegetarian and carnivorous menus also feature one pizza each, the vegan menu pitches in further with a vegan-cheese-baked-aubergine main course, and all have a range of superfood salads and a tempting choice of desserts.
Tuesday to Sunday, 11am-10pm; Hospital Street; 096-282-6127; www.lapastaa.com
Set at the heart of our favourite hangout Kandal Village, at trendy, health-conscious vegan café-restaurant Vibe, the impeccably designed interiors are as important as the food. And what a selection food it is: all vegan, plant-based, organic and nutritious, with a strong focus on raw, gluten-free and sugar-free dishes. Perhaps most impressive of all, Vibe claims that their bread is the one and only thing they don’t make in-house from scratch.
The just-extensive-enough menu covers a whole range of health-centred breakfast bowls, with on-trend superfood ingredients like acai, chia and goji, plus bircher muesli, quinoa porridge, and even more indulgent brunch treats like smashed avocado on rye toast, and zucchini fritters with coconut tzatziki – all without ever straying from the commitment to healthy eating.
Various vegan bowls make an appearance for lunch and dinner, too, as well as other innovative creations like raw zucchini pasta with cashew cheese, black bean and roasted pumpkin quesadillas, and a bean-and-vegetable-patty burger loaded with avocado and fermented cucumber pickles. Add to the equation irresistible desserts like the walnut-based raw salted caramel and chocolate slice, and it’s easy to understand why this is a spot that meat-eaters are rightly clamouring to get into just as much as life-long vegans. Equally unsurprisingly, a Phnom Penh branch is already on the cards, and due to open later in spring 2017.
The Veg ‘G’ Table Café
There’s a homey and casual yet serene vibe to this ‘mostly vegetarian’ (and largely vegan) restaurant set in a secluded garden not far from Wat Bo temple, where French chef-owner Goulven Lego (aka ‘G’) takes a holistic farm-to-table approach to his cooking. He’s helped along by the fact that he has 19 years’ experience in London kitchens under his belt, and he’s not afraid to innovate with bold, natural flavours; The Veg ‘G’ Table Café describes its offering as ‘the funkiest vegetarian food in town’.
There’s a choice of everyday staples like the mixed vegetable and beetroot veggie burger, or more out-there dishes such as white bean, lime and chilli fritters served on homemade flatbread with avocado mousse. The menu is relatively light on heavy, filling mains, combining just a few with more snack-like dishes such as middle-eastern baba ganoush, gazpacho, and beetroot carpaccio (ditch the cream cheese to make it vegan).
‘Just because there isn’t any meat, it doesn’t mean it’s not delicious,’ professes Lego – but he does make the odd concession to meat-eaters in dishes like the spiced chicken taboulé. As for dessert, just thinking about the vegetarian chocolate and beetroot brownies (served with toffee sauce, balsamic syrup, and toasted almonds) has us dribbling.
Tuesday to Saturday, 11am-3pm and 6-9pm; Sunday, 11am-3pm; Craft Alley, Wat Bo Road; 088-642-3753; www.theveggtablecafe.com
We’ve already raved about Artillery – which also has branches in Phnom Penh – as being among our favourite Siem Reap cafés. But this retro, design-led spot, complete with an ultra-attractive outdoor courtyard, is also a hot ticket for its wide range of conceptual vegan dishes – even if we’ve found the food here to be somewhat hit-or-miss on occasion.
Vegan brunch favourites here include the likes of avocado sourdough toast spruced up with a dukkah spice mix, and a chia coconut parfait. By way of more substantial vegan grub, there’s a spiced vegetable and quinoa burger, intriguing barbecued jackfruit tacos, and the falafel waffle with garlic tahini, plus a range of vegan-friendly salads, vegan and gluten-free macro bowls, and healthy snacks like summer rolls and garlic-and-chilli-oil chargrilled broccoli.
There’s also a small selection of raw, vegan and gluten-free desserts, plus a solid range of cold-pressed juices, and coffees are available with cashew or coconut milk. What’s more, Artillery has a solid reputation for environmentally friendly practices, including in the sourcing of its range of health, beauty and homewares products to take home.
Daily, 7.30am-9pm; Wat Bo Road; 085-856-511; www.artillerycafe.com
An ice-cream joint might seem like an odd inclusion in an article on places to eat vegan food in Siem Reap, but hear us out: Gelato Lab is special. This Italian-owned gelato bar, tucked into the small eyes that run along from Pub Street in Siem Reap’s Old Market area, has a loyal following that renders worthwhile the painstaking methods that go into making the frozen goodies here.
The extensive selection of ice creams – freshly churned in-house on a daily basis – will satisfy even the fussiest of ice-cream aficionados, including those who want their dessert to be loaded with fresh milk and cream. But it’s the Cioccolato organic 80% Papua New Guinea dark chocolate sorbet that we care about: no word of a life, this stuff is the nectar of the gods (and non-vegans will likely be clueless that it’s utterly dairy-free).
It’s one of a selection of innovative, otherwise fruit-based vegan sorbets that include mango and dragon fruit both sourced from Siem Reap, sweet mandarin from southeastern Cambodia’s Kandal province, passion fruit from the Mondulkiri mountains in the east of the country, and strawberries from Chiang Mai in neighbouring Thailand.
Daily, 9am-11.30pm; Alley West (behind Pub Street); 085-757-590; www.facebook.com/gelatolabsiemreap
Cuisine Wat Damnak
Easily one of the best Cambodian restaurants not just in Siem Reap but in the entire country, Cuisine Wat Damnak’s French chef Joannès Rivière uses contemporary French techniques and locally sourced ingredients to elevate traditional Khmer recipes as part of fortnightly rotating fine-dining tasting menu.
Cuisine Wat Damnak has previously appeared on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, and it remains one of Siem Reap’s hottest addresses. But perhaps best of all, vegans don’t have to miss out on the lip-smacking foodie fun! Rivière is refreshingly accommodating of both vegetarians and vegans and, with advance notice, the restaurant will happily prepare an alternative menu that promises to be just as exciting and innovative as what the carnivores are served.
Tuesday to Saturday, 6.30-9.30pm; between Psar Dey Hoy market and Angkor High School, Wat Damnak Village; 077-347-762; www.cuisinewatdamnak.com
Yuan Sheng Vegetable Restaurant
Yuan Sheng is a Mandarin phrase which refers to ecology or way of life. It is also the name of a new Chinese-Cambodian restaurant in Siem Reap, which doubles as a sales centre for Buddhist wood carvings. It’s a little bit out from the tourist heart of town, on one of Siem Reap’s main connecting roads between Phsar Leu and High School Road. We’ve been really impressed by the range of fresh greens served with noodle and soup dishes, and also the delicious authentic Cambodian and Chinese cooking on offer. The menu is entirely in Khmer, but fear not – the staff are really helpful when it comes to ordering. We love the large variety of mock meats offered in Yuan Sheng’s dishes, all at very affordable prices. We recommend ordering the curry noodle soup (pictured above), and loading it up with the seasonal leafy greens, fresh flowers and lotus stems offered to accompany each dish.
Daily, 7am-9pm; Lok Taneuy Road; 089-700-168
Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel
Of course, no round-up of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Siem Reap would be complete without mentioning our very own oasis at Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel. We’re the obvious choice for vegans and vegetarians looking to relax, explore Siem Reap, and discover the town’s tempting array of meat-free meals.
Needless to say, our own extensive menu of Khmer and Asian specialities, international classics, and western comfort foods, includes a healthy array of vegan and vegetarian meals that you’ll have trouble saying no to. Choose from dishes like our infamous chickpea-and-veggie-patty vegetarian burger, our irresistible tofu burger, and a range of vegan pastas that includes tofu puttanesca.
Or pick from a wide variety of local vegan delights, such as the creamy, coconut-based Cambodian tofu and vegetable curry, the Cambodian coconut pumpkin soup, a hot and sour tom yum soup with tofu, or our delightful pan-fried tofu garden salad with sesame dressing. Just fancy a quick bite to eat while you lounge by the pool? Our vegan golden taro and shiitake spring rolls are the perfect answer to your mid-afternoon hunger pangs.
Where else for vegan food in Siem Reap?
Plenty of other spots around Siem Reap have a few dedicated vegan menu items that are worth recommending, like Sister Srey, the Little Red Fox Espresso, the Hive, and Atmosphere. Plus, don’t miss the vegan barbecues at the Hangout on Saturdays and at Footprints on Tuesdays!
Where to stay in Siem Reap
Looking for a Siem Reap hotel from which to explore the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants that Siem Reap has to offer, while also being within easy reach of the famous Angkor Wat temples? Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel is waiting for you – click here to take a look at our relaxing rooms, all with free breakfast (including vegan options, of course!) and use of our gorgeous swimming pool.
Which of these Siem Reap vegan and vegetarian restaurants is your favourite? Let us know which spots we should include on our list – leave us a comment below!
Photos by Vibe, La Pasta, Vibe, The Veg ‘G’ Table Café, Artillery, Gelato Lab, Cuisine Wat Damnak, Ilana Tulloch, and Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel.