Dubbed the rice bowl of Cambodia, Battambang is home to sprawling rice fields, stunning countryside and the country’s second-largest city. While it may appear sleepy on the outside, the understatedly charming city boasts a thriving arts scene and a swathe of restaurants serving up everything from contemporary Cambodian cuisine to traditional Khmer desserts. Here are 10 of the best places to eat out.
By far one of Cambodia’s best restaurants, Jaan Bai is a must-visit for foodies. Translating as ‘rice bowl’, the social-enterprise diner is run by the Cambodian Children’s Trust, which provides vocational hospitality training for young people. The menu spans a range of contemporary Khmer dishes, with many ingredients coming from the restaurant’s farm. Both the twice-cooked Australian coconut-braised beef and the Kampot pepper crab with chilli jam are to die for. Channelling an artsy vibe – a cool Khmer mural covers one outer wall – Jaan Bai is also a great place to kick back with an early-evening cocktail.
Address: Phum 20 Ousphea Krong Battambang, Battambang Province, Cambodia, +855 78 263 144
Packaging a coffee shop, art gallery and co-working space into one place, Kinyei houses an award-winning social enterprise café that’s scooped first place in two Cambodian National Barista Championships. The evidence of its success is in the coffee, which is undeniably the best in Battambang. With a super-chilled vibe and super-speedy wi-fi, Kinyei is the perfect spot to enjoy a well-cooked breakfast, lunch or cheeky cake, washed down with a hot drink or smoothie. The shop is also home to Soksabike Tours, with bikes available to rent for $2 (£1.60) a day.
Address: Road No 1.5, Phum 20 Ousphea Krong Battambang, Cambodia, +855 10 643 958
If you’re craving the comforting taste of home (if you happen to be from the West), then Cafe Eden has got you covered. Offering huge portions of American-inspired dishes, menu items range from a towering toasted bagel with cream cheese and various fillings, to Philly cheesesteaks and a mighty fine eggs Benedict. Run by a Christian social enterprise, the café ploughs all profits back into staff training as well as other local services. A happy hour runs daily from 3pm to 7pm, with an in-store boutique selling crafts and clothing.
Address: Road No 1, Phum Prek Mohatep Krong Battambang, Battambang Province, Cambodia, +855 77 534 840
Choco L’Art Cafe
In keeping with Battambang’s arty scene, Choco L’Art Cafe is run by Khmer painter Ke and his French partner Soline. Showcasing stacks of local art, the diner is famous throughout the city for its home-made breads and delicious, French-inspired desserts – think chocolate hazelnut cake, rich mousses, pastries and crêpes. Also serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, this cosy haunt boasts a simple menu that takes in sandwiches and omelettes. The venue also occasionally features live music.
Address: Street 117, Phum 20 Ousphea Krong Battambang, Cambodia, +855 10 661 617
As one of Battambang’s longest-standing vegetarian eateries, Monorom Garden – previously known as Mercy House – is a stalwart on the city’s restaurant scene. The menu spans Asia, with a predominance of Japanese and Korean dishes, such as teppanyaki, alongside traditional Cambodian meals, including a meat-free lok lak. If you’re vegan, mention this to the staff, as egg is included in a number of the recipes.
Address: Street 101, Phum Prek Mohatep Krong Battambang, Cambodia, +855 12 243 364
Ideally located for sundowners, The River is – unsurprisingly – set on the banks of the Sangker River, which slices through Battambang. Offering an extensive and affordable menu, the restaurant focuses on both Western and Khmer cuisine, with prices ranging from $2 to $4 (£1.60-£3.20). While breakfast, lunch and dinner are all available, sunset is the best time to choose a spot and watch the sun slip below the horizon, cocktail or draft beer in hand.
Address: Road No. 1A, Phum Prek Mohatep Krong Battambang, Cambodia
Jewel in the Lotus
Doubling up as an art gallery and bar-restaurant, Jewel in the Lotus attracts a creative crowd. Featuring pieces by local and foreign artists, this popular haunt is the brainchild of curator Darren and his Khmer artist wife, Khchao Touch, who are happy to talk about the work on display and the city’s vibrant art scene. Serving Western and Asian dishes in a well-thought-out space, the venue also hosts movie nights throughout the week.
Address: Phum 20 Ousphea Krong Battambang, Battambang Province, Cambodia
For some hearty Cambodian cooking with recipes taken straight from the countryside, Nary Kitchen is the place to be. Very reasonably priced meals take in traditional dishes, such as lok lak (beef stir-fry) and amok (curry steam-cooked in banana leaves), as well as vegetarian options. There’s also the chance to join a Khmer cooking class and learn how to rustle up Cambodian cuisine for yourself.
Address: Street 111, Krong Battambang, Cambodia, +855 12 763 950
A graduate of the prestigious Paul Dubrule culinary school in Siem Reap, restaurant owner Lyly has done an outstanding job with his venture. Coconut Lyly offers a range of Cambodian delicacies, prepared using fresh and healthy ingredients, minus the MSG flavour enhancer commonly found in Khmer dishes. Vegetarian options are available, and Mr Lyly also runs popular cookery classes, covering both veggie and meat recipes.
Address: Street 111, Krong Battambang, Cambodia, +85516399339
La Casa Battambang
If it’s a doughy carb-fest you’re after, then head straight for La Casa Battambang – a simple affair plating up tasty, thin-crust pizzas with a variety of toppings, including lok lak and tom yum. Also on the menu is a selection of pasta, salads, starters and desserts (the chocolate fondue is a highlight). With both outdoor and indoor seating, there’s no shortage of space to enjoy a leisurely meal.
Address: Street 115, Phum 20 Ousphea Krong Battambang, Cambodia, +855 81 610 177