Pictured above: Blossom Cafe, Siem Reap
Next week I will be sharing all about our beautiful experience exploring the ancient temples of Angkor Wat. However, before doing so, I wanted to spend some time talking about Siem Reap, the city surrounding the temples, and all the delicious cafés, bakeries, and restaurants that you can enjoy.
One of my favorite aspects of the food scene in Siem Reap its focus on doing good.
So, what exactly does that mean? Well, many of the dining establishments in Siem Reap operate in a “training environment,” which means they help foster underprivileged Cambodian youths’ skills in the hospitality industry. These restaurants follow the old adage of “give a man a fish, he easts for a day, teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” My friend Cailee had warned me of many potential scams in Cambodia, but these “training restaurants” were not one of them. Obviously you always need to be aware, as not all training restaurants are created equally, but the vibe I got at the restaurants I’ve highlighted was just so wonderful. There are also a few great options in Phnom Penh that I mentioned earlier in the week here.
A few of my favorite training restaurants in Siem Reap were:
1. HAVEN – Has one of the best slogans, “where helping never tasted so good!” HAVEN is built around the concept of on-the-job practical training supplemented by theoretical classes, that have been adapted to the needs of the Cambodian students. The training program is free of charge for the Cambodians and subsidized by the restaurant and Dragonfly, a Swiss organization. Knowing HAVEN’s mission statement is a statement of purpose makes eating there that much more enjoyable and their amazing TripAdvisor reviews all the more impressive.
2. Sister Srey – We ate at Sister Srey four times in our five days of being in Siem Reap. The smoothies are delicious and the employees so chatty and engaging. Sister Srey works along side Heart to Harmony Foundation, meaning 20% of profits from the Cafe as well as donations go towards Hearts to Harmony to supports individuals through education, health and hygiene, and supports rural families. I loved meeting one of the owners, Lauren and learning about Heart to Harmony Foundation from her. On our last morning, we saw her as she had just returned from delivering a cow to a local family! What a life.
3. Blossom Cafe (pictured above) – Blossom Cafe is a not for profit organization that works with Cambodian women to teach them the art of baking and cupcake design. Blossom Cafe has done such a beautiful job of achieving their mission, that in the process they have also become one of the trendiest boutique cupcake shops around. I mean, definitely giving Sprinkles a run for their money.
The training restaurants in Siem Reap are worth every penny. If you go to Siem Reap, you will not be disappointed. Not only will you be able to do good with your dollar, you will leave with a full and happy belly.