Nov 23 2011
Not that long ago, Wat Bo Road was simply a detour that you might have quickly taken and just as quickly forgotten: a nowhere road to somewhere else. Today, it’s buzzing. It seems hardly a week goes by without a new bar, café, restaurant or hotel opening up either on Wat Bo Road or one of its many side streets. Just recently, we’ve had the excellent El Camino on Street 26, sandy Beaches on Wat Bo Road, posh-Khmer Square 24 on Street 24, and many more. It could leave you all breathless if you were trying to keep up with it, puff, puff, puff…
Unless you were staying in the area, it might not cross your mind to take a trip up here, but then you’d be missing out on the hottest location for lots of Siem Reap’s newest restaurant ventures. Here’s a quick guide to some of our favourite spots on Wat Bo Road — and we’re not even going down the side-streets yet, or looking at hotels.
Upstairs Café will open in earlyDecember, and is the result of a young Frenchwoman’s passion for baking cakes for her friends. She gave me some of her ginger bread to sample recently, and it was a gift of light, soft, sweet, smooth bliss. I was incredibly good, I have to say, and I actually shared some with my husband, though I may have to be careful about introducing them now as I’m not sure he wouldn’t leave me for someone who makes cakes this good. I’d show you a picture, but we gobbled the lot… sorry!
As the name hints, Upstairs Café can be found upstairs, and is located over Madame Beergarden Under Construction, a fun and slightly wacky bar that does great drinks offers and serves super food in a setting that will have you quirk-spotting all night.
An older hand on the scene is Le Café at the French Cultural Centre. This is a quiet little walled garden café that serves some mean brownies and cakes from the Paul Debrule hospitality training school, as well as some French classics such as croque monsieur. While you’re there, have a browse through the library which carries books, newspapers and DVDs that can be enjoyed on site.
Heading back towards Wat Damnak, you’ll find Kholene Pasta Bar, a little gem of a place that serves up pizza (two for the price of one at selected times), pasta, and some inventive and delicious Khmer and Western dishes in an attractive open-air restaurant.
No visit to Siem Reap is truly complete without a trip to Mr Grill: sizzling meats, giant shrimp, Khmer barbecue and ice-cold beer, all served up in a bustling open-air restaurant popular with locals, expats and visitors alike.
All of this is just the east end of Wat Bo; there is so much to discover here you’d be crazy not to check it out.
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