Dining in Battambang
*This is the fourth of my guides to Cambodia
I’ve let this series of posts lag so much that I’ve actually been back to Cambodia for a couple of weeks in the meantime. That’s refreshed my memory, so maybe it’s not such a bad thing.
Now, while Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are the major tourist centres of Cambodia, I’ve spent most of my time in Battambang, so it’s really the only place I can provide a decent number of recommendations for. Let’s get stuck into it!
Restaurants in General
A few points to bear in mind:
- Khmer restaurants aren’t known for their speed, so it doesn’t hurt to bring a book.
- Most places that cater for foreigners have both Western and Khmer dishes.
- Unless menus mention both lime and lemon, assume that when it says lemon, you’ll actually get lime.
West of the River
Battambang has a few key streets - running north to south are roads One, Two and Three. One is along the river, and Three is the largest of the three.
As you can see from the map, there’s also streets between these - they are usually referred to by expats as One-and-a-half, and Two-and-a-half, but I’ve no idea if the locals actually have names for them.
The food here isn’t particularly complex - but it’s tasty, and their shakes have no milk (a rarity), so they’re particularly refreshing. Perfect for breakfast or lunch. As an added bonus, has wifi.
And if you’ve visited Fresh Eats before, it’s worth noting that they have moved in the last twelve months from the far side of Road Three to Road Two-and-a-half, just south of Psah Nath (the main market).
A relative newcomer, Khmer Delight has only appeared in the last year. Good food, friendly staff, and intermittent wifi. It’s worth a visit for meals at any time of day.
You can find it on the road running east-west a block south of Psah Nath, between Roads Two and Two-and-a-half.
A stalwart of the Lonely Planet, Smoking Pot is best known for the cooking classes (which I’ll cover in a later post), but also has a good variety of dishes. They also serve a banana and lime milkshake, which became my regular drink (I know it sounds a little odd, but the combination works).
It is located on the corner of Street One-and-a-half, two blocks south of Psah Nath.
This place always draws plenty of tourists, and so I rarely went, preferring to support businesses which were a bit quieter. The menu is long, so you don’t lack for choices, and the food ranges from okay to decent.
You can find Snow White on the corner of Street Two, two blocks south of Psah Nath (a very short walk from Smoking Pot).
An evening-only option, the Balcony Bar is at the higher end of the scale in terms of prices - perhaps not quite so good value compared to other places. That said, the food’s pretty good (though the menu is almost all Western), and it’s a very chilled location, away from the town centre.
You won’t want to walk here, especially late at night, but all Tuk-tuk drivers (and many moto drivers) will know it - it’s a far distance along Road One, south of central Battambang.
Every night, a couple of dozen stalls set up along the river (south of the bridge that’s at the bottom of the map). You could try your luck here for a noodle soup, but it’s really aimed at the locals: you won’t find any western options, and English won’t get you very far at all.
It’s also probably a bit rough on digestive systems that haven’t spent a few weeks in Cambodia. All in all, you have been warned.
East of the River
While the focus of Battambang is on the west side of the river, there’s still some options out east. You’ll mainly find these along one road, where the temple is by the river, leading to the big statue roundabout on Highway 5.
Bamboo Train Cafe
Formerly known as Apsara Garden, the Bamboo Train Cafe has tweaked its menu somewhat, and offers meals at all times of day. The breakfasts are very good (especially if you’re dying for Western-style toast), meals are generally delicious, and the staff are friendly. There’s also a pool table in very good condition - a rarity.
You can find it just east of Spring Park Hotel.
A small place beside the Golden Palace Hotel (east of Spring Park Hotel on the north side of the main road), this restaurant has some Western dishes, but the local fare is better. Simple and affordable (moreso than the usually cheap Cambodian standards), but nothing sparkling.
Part of the Golden Palace Hotel (east of Spring Park Hotel on the north side of the main road), you may want to try Cold Night if you’re nearby. Some dishes are quite good (my favourite is the Chicken Curry with Rice), but the staff are rarely friendly.
You don’t get much classier than this in Cambodia, let alone Battambang. La Villa is a boutique hotel in (as the name suggests) an old French villa. The food here ranges from decent to very good. If you’re going to go a steak, get the imported New Zealand beef, not the local stuff - it’ll be more tender. The creme caramel is great.
This is not where you come to get a taste of Cambodian culture - but it is a nice break from the culture shock. It’s along the river, north of the main road on the map, but Tuk-tuk drivers will know where to go.