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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats


Updated: Apr 3, 2023

We arrived into Siem Reap really early in the morning - climbing off our night bus and into the twilight city, we were really surprised. Firstly, even though dawn was barely breaking and bats were flying overhead, a small handful of people were beginning to go about their daily business - shopkeepers were sweeping outside their premises, a group of ladies were doing a fitness class in the park... and despite being mostly under the cover of darkness we felt both safe and welcome. As we walked towards our hostel, early morning joggers smiled at us and we started to eye up some of the breakfast options available on this charmingly quiet city's streets.

This sense of gentle and tranquil hospitality continued throughout our time in Siem Reap. Everyone we met was very friendly, the food was very tasty and service was excellent (you can read more about this in our Top Places to Eat Vegan in Siem Reap blog). While we were in Siem Reap, there was one particular dish that we were particularly keen to get our hands (and tastebuds!) on: Amok was something we had heard so much about, and seen so many people tucking into, so we knew that this ancient Khmer dish was something we absolutely needed to locate in plant-based form!

So tell us, what exactly is Amok?

The first thing to say is that traditional Amok is definitely not suitable for vegans! This fish-based curry has a traditionally mousse-like texture, and is said to have once been a royal dish here in Cambodia. The fish is mixed with a special curry paste, coconut milk and sometimes eggs, then often steamed in banana leaves and then served hot with rice. Nowadays, though, Amok is served more widely across Cambodia, with versions of the dish available to suit all budgets and diets. Luckily for us, this also means that vegan Amok is available - you just need to know where to look!

Where did we try vegan Amok in Siem Reap?

To get our taste of vegan Amok we headed to Banlle Vegetarian Restaurant. The first thing to say about this place is that it is absolutely stunning, one of the most beautiful places we've eaten for sure! We actually visited Banlle twice while we were in Siem Reap: on this occasion it was a lovely sunny day and we sat outside in their luscious garden seating area. The second time we went, it was in the middle of a dramatic rainstorm and we ate indoors, in their spacious and comfortable restaurant. Both were really atmospheric and welcoming places to eat - though if you visit on a sunny day, like we did, you really can't beat that garden!

Banlle offer a mid-sized menu of really excellent quality vegetarian and vegan dishes, ranging from Cambodian and Asian classics to western favourites (plant-based fish and chips, anyone?) The restaurant felt fairly fancy - though we didn't feel out of place in our casual clothing - and the waiting staff were efficient and friendly. We knew exactly what we wanted this first time we visited and the Traditional Khmer Amok was served to us fresh and fast, in a fancy dish with serving cloche. Needless to say, we were very excited to try it!

So come on - tell us all about the Amok! How did it taste?

The menu didn't give much away when it came to the Traditional Khmer Amok, besides the fact that the sauce would be coconut milk and lemongrass based, and that the dish would include noni leaves and local vegetables. The dish that arrived was so much more than it sounded on the menu: it would be easy to pass the Amok by if you weren't searching it out, due to the ambiguous description, but we are here to tell you that you absolutely should not miss this one!

Once the cloche was lifted the aromatic fragrances of the dish immediately started making my mouth water: I couldn't wait to tuck into this curry dish! The Amok was lightly spiced, with the coconut milk base adding a touch of sweet and creamy flavour, enhanced by the citrus notes of the lemongrass. The curry broth was a little thinner than we expected - this version definitely wasn't moussey in consistency! - but this worked really well with the rice on the side. The dish was packed full of really tasty and fresh vegetables: these locally grown flavours really made for an extra tasty curry dish! The slight toughness of the leafy greens contrasted with the soft pumpkin, potato, mushroom and courgette, with the extra bite of green beans too. The curry felt really healthy, and made for a very enjoyable, light but filling lunchtime dish. In terms of taste, texture, and presentation, I could certainly see how this was a dish fit for a king!

How much did this plant-based Amok cost - and was it worth it?

Two vegan summer rolls with a slice of vegan sausage visible, with a dish of peanut dipping sauce in the background
Such a yummy selection of veg!

We paid $4 per portion of Traditional Khmer Amok, which included a serving of rice each too. This is approximately £3.23 or €3.77. Given the quantity of fresh local vegetables, the hearty size of the serving, and the beautiful presentation we thought this was well worth it for a healthy lunch dish that kept us nice and full. We really enjoyed eating at this beautiful restaurant too, and would recommend it for lunch or dinner, especially if you are looking for something a little special.

Banlle Vegetarian Restaurant is located at Street 26, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia. The restaurant is open every day from 11am to 2pm, and then from 5pm to 9:15pm except for Tuesdays, when it is closed.

Have you tried vegan Amok in Cambodia? Or elsewhere in the world! Where did you go and what did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.


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The centre of Vienna with tall, historic buildings all around
Seeing the sun rise over Angkor Wat really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience

Where should I stay?

One of the most popular options for accommodation in Siem Reap is Babel Siem Reap Guesthouse: a clean, comfortable, and modern hotel. Babel is family friendly, has a pool and an on-site bar with many vegetarian and vegan options on the menu.

For a more lively atmosphere, but with the convenience of a pool, bar and restaurant on site, and a choice of private and dorm rooms, Mad Monkey Siem Reap is a great choice. This friendly hostel get consistently top reviews from their guests.

Tours & Experiences

Most people travelling to Siem Reap want to go on a tour of the Angkor Wat temple complex: and for good reason, it is astounding! This tour begins with a sunrise view over the temples, for a really spectacular start to the day. If this isn't for you, or you'd prefer to see more of the Siem Reap area, why not check out some of the top rated Viator trips below!

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