Eat and meet
KampotKampot has a reasonable selection of places to eat and drink, with most of them running along the River Rd between the post office and the old bridge.
While Sri Lankan food isn't the first thing you may think of when you think of Kampot, the Bamboo Light Cafe continues to dish out excellent Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine. This is food you'd travel across a capital city to get to, but it's being served up in a little tasteful shopfront in downtown Kampot instead. The Sri Lankan-style roti is the specialty, a spicy dish made of strips of flatbread, veggies and meat. The decor is better than most, with a thatched ceiling and light fixtures made of bamboo. Prices are reasonable and the service is friendly -- the cook insisted on serving us fresh food and told us candidly what she made best.
Heading north from Bamboo Light you'll reach a trio of foreigner-friendly restaurants -- Coco House, Say Sa Bok and Jasmine. All do a mix of Khmer and international food. Coco has the best location, but there's really little to separate the three, although Say Sa Bok is closed in rainy season. Jasmine's steaks are popular among expats. It offers WiFi access and has a knowledgeable owner, Mark, who plays old movies on a big screen one night a week. Further north again, the Little Garden Bar has a small, well shaded cafe/restaurant on the corner and probably stands out for its sandwiches. If you're heading up Bokor, drop by here to pick up some pre-packaged meals for the trip up -- and try their pizza when you get back.
At the southern end of the riverside strip you'll find Bokor Mountain Lodge, Bonkors, Rusty Keyhole and Rikitikitavi. Bokor Lodge is our favourite for a streetside sundowner, while Rikitikitavi gets the vote for a splash out meal. Bonkors was closed for several months in mid-2009 but we heard the owner plans to reopen or perhaps sell the place. Rusty Keyhole is by far the most popular restaurant along the strip, overflowing with customers while others remain empty. NGO folk living in Kampot congregate there nightly to devour the famed "Rusty ribs."
In off the river, the Epic Arts Cafe offers good meals along with homemade cakes and other snackies. The breakfasts are quite good and we recommend the bagels with apple cream cheese. It's part of a project involving deaf and disabled communities and profits go to a couple of associations working with disadvantaged people.
Piggies, sandwiched between Bonkors and Rusty Keyhole, opened in June 2009, and serves $2.25 jugs of Anchor draft during happy hour, as well as the "best spaghetti/pizza/steak in town" according to a sign hanging out front.
Mea Culpa serves fantastic wood-fired pizza. And it lives up to the hype. Set in an outdoor patio beside the hotel of the same name, this place is worth the 10-minute walk south of town. The staff is as kind as the Australian owner, and seem genuinely excited to serve exceptionally good food. While the pizzas are as good as pizza gets, try to squeeze in an appetiser, as these are equally top-notch.
Sundowners Tavern, a few doors down from Epic Arts Cafe, opened in May 2009. Though it's yet to really get off the ground, its Australian owner says he has big plans to buy an oven and plans to sell fresh-made baked goods and reheated meat pies imported from a specialty baker in Phnom Penh. It currently serves Khmer and Western food with no MSG, Australian wines, and plays Aussie rugby on the television behind the bar.
It's worth the trip to Kampot just to eat at Akashi. Set inside a Khmer villa with lime green walls and black-and-white tile floors, everything here is fantastic. The quiches are the specialty, and we enjoyed the pumpkin, feta and rosemary but the goat cheese, beetroot and walnut also sounded tasty. The molten dark chocolate cake is well-known around town, and the homemade mango ice cream made us truly love our job. Every meal comes with freshly baked house bread, and a range of sandwiches and soups are on offer as well.
Ta Ouv, a riverfront Khmer restaurant next to the new bridge, is also a fine choice. Get there early to snag one of the waterfront tables. It has a range of Cambodian dishes, with an emphasis on seafood. The coconut green curry crab is spicy, slightly sweet and a favourite.
Among the guesthouse restaurants, Blissful, with its large, very affordable portions, is the best spot.
Lastly, don't forget the fresh juice stands that open up in the evening along the old bridge road -- splendiforous! They're unfortunately only around during dry season too.
Akashi: Across from the hospital, Kampot. T: (012) 423 180. Open Wed-Mon, 11:00-17:00.
Bamboo Light Cafe: River Rd, Kampot. T: (089) 476 578 Open daily, 07:00-late.
Bokor Mountain Lodge: River Rd, Kampot. T: (033) 932 314. Open daily.
Bonkors: River Rd, Kampot. Open Thu-Tue, 13:00-24:00.
Coco House: River Rd, Kampot. T: (033) 932 198.
Epic Arts Cafe: A block back from the abandoned market, Kampot. Open daily.
Jasmine: River Rd, Kampot. T: (012) 927 313.
Little Garden Bar: River Rd, Kampot. T: (012) 256 901. Open daily.
Piggies: River Rd, Kampot. T: (012) 820 988. Open daily, 16:00-late.
Rikitikitavi: River Rd, Kampot. T:(012) 235 102. Closed Mondays.
Rusty Keyhole: River Rd, Kampot. Open daily.
Say Sa Bok: River Rd, Kampot. Open daily.
Sundowners: A block back from the abandoned market, Kampot. T: (011) 485 525. Open daily, 17:00-late.
Ta Ouv: Next to the new bridge, Kampot. T: (033) 932 422, (012) 820 832. Open daily.
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