Aug 01 2012

Siem Reap’s latest happening area?

Published by at 11:05 am under Food & drink

In Siem Reap, there is an area behind the Central Market that is easy to overlook and you wouldn’t have missed out on much in the past by doing so. But that is beginning to change. In between the two roads that run east from Central Market is a little half-road, fed by two perpendicular streets that top and tail it. It used to chiefly be the preserve of travel agents and tour companies, and was rather lacking in character thanks to the straitened uniformity of the Chinese-style shophouses.

Only now I realise that colouring the street red might not have been so smart -- it's not like that I promise

Only now I realise that colouring the street red might not have been so smart — it’s not like that I promise.

But, a couple of interesting places did make their home here too (to the benefit chiefly of locals and expats), and now they’re being joined by others, most notably the new Cafe de la Paix and De La Paix Spa following the closure of the renowned Hotel de la Paix in July. Others will certainly soon follow, but for now here’s a look at what you’ll find.

Frangipani Spa has been here for a long while, and is one of the best spas in town that isn’t linked to one of the hotels. Their quality has always ensured that even out of the way, people will make the effort to seek them out, and their massages are the subject of some serious raving by regulars. With prices for a massage starting at $25, they’re more expensive than the average Pub Street offering, but really it’s not at all the same thing.

Frangipani Spa, well a flower actually but my battery died

Frangipani Spa, well a flower actually, but my battery died.

Frangipani also offers reflexology, facials, waxing, manicures and pedicures, body scrubs, and a number of special packages.

On the eastern cross street (Street 14 on some maps) you’ll find another well-established beauty salon, Jenny Skin Care, which is dedicated to hi-tech solutions to skin problems. With products from Korea, Jenny Jung offers a range of treatments from basic beauty facials to more specific treatments including peels, acne treatments and freckle/blemish removal. She also offers manicures, pedicures, waxing, massages — including slimming massages — and acupuncture.

Mamma Shop Chocolate - I ate the tiramisu first unfortunately

Mamma Shop Chocolate — I ate the tiramisu first unfortunately.

On the same road, you’ll find Common Grounds, a sort of American-style coffee bar that feels a little too formulaic for me to warm to, notwithstanding the fact that they blessedly have air-con, still a rare thing in Siem Reap. Others, however, rave about their food, especially their comfort dishes like lasagne and sausage gravy with biscuits.

Back on the little red half-street, Mamma Shop opened less than a year ago and instantly won the heart of anyone who walked in the door. It is, as the name suggests, devoted to all things foody and Italian, whether you’re interested in dining in their small air-con room upstairs, or take out dishes such as house-made lasagne, pastas, carpaccio, ravioli, pizza, gnocchi, risotto, almost anything your little Italian loving heart can dream of. On top of that, they sell dried and house-made pasta, chocolate, breads, deserts, wines, oils, vinegars, dried herbs and spices, cheeses, meats, it goes on. Trust me, it’s wonderful. If you’re thinking of making up a picnic to take out to the temples, then you don’t really need to think of going anywhere else.

Cafe de la Paix

Cafe de la Paix.

Then there is the new Cafe de la Paix. The hotel closed down a month ago, to the consternation of expats who would have to think of where to go to meet everyone they knew without the bother of actually having to make arrangements, and also because the coffee was really good. There was much relief therefore at the announcement that both the cafe and the spa would re-open here. Cafe de la Paix serves the best create-your-own-salads and sandwiches in town, as well as home-made ice-cream, pastries and a selection of mains including their fabulous burgers. The setting is modern and very stylish with artwork from Cambodian artists lining the walls.

Cafe de la Paix, cooler on the inside, and has air-con

Cafe de la Paix, cooler on the inside, and has air-con.

Frangipani Spa
No. 615/617 Hip Guan Street, Siem Reap
T: (063) 964 391 / (012) 982 062

Jenny Skin Care
Street 14, Siem Reap
T: (012) 805 844

Mamma Shop
Hip Guan Street, Siem Reap
T: (012) 833 985

Common Grounds
Street 14, Siem Reap
T: (063) 965 687

Café de la Paix
Street 14, Siem Reap
T: (012) 837 144 / (063) 966 000

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2 Responses to “Siem Reap’s latest happening area?”

  1. […] of yoga, tai-chi and pilates and the classes are very popular with participants. The studio is at 595 Hip Guan Street (between the two streets that link Central Market and the river, behind ANZ bank, and a few doors […]

  2. […] a little more ‘luxe’, then Frangipani Spa is arguably the best non-hotel spa in town. On Hup Guan Street, this is spa as cocoon against all the grot and grumbles of the world. A typical massage costs […]

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