Vegetarian options in Phnom Penh

What we say: 3.5 stars

As with most of Asia, finding truly vegetarian food in Phnom Penh can be a bit of a challenge. It’s not impossible, though, and a few excellent vegetarian restaurants in town serve up tasty dishes that don’t contain any prahok.

Yellow noodle soup with wontons at The Vegetarian, Phnom Penh

Noodle soup and carrot juice at The Vegetarian, Phnom Penh

Fate Blessing Buddha

This unassuming little eatery is one you’d never stumble upon accidentally — it’s located in a parking lot next to City Mall, but their large selection of Taiwanese and Chinese vegetarian food is worth a visit. The staff are very friendly and although they don’t speak a lot of English, the entire menu has pictures and in my experience, random selections generally turn out well. Their dumplings are addictive as is the sizzling skillet dish with mushrooms. But where they really excel is with mock meats. If you’re not a fan, you’ll hate this place because nearly all the dishes seem to have some sort of mock meat in one form or another. In fact, their various faux flesh dishes are delicious enough to turn non-vegetarians into Fate Blessing Buddha converts. Expect to spend less than $5.

The Vegetarian

Opened in July, The Vegetarian is doing brisk business in part due to its excellent location on Street 200 and incredibly obvious name. And the food’s good. Last year they were known for $1 dishes, but even now that everything has gone up to $1.50 it’s still good value for money. Dishes are simple and light — if you’re hungry a main might not be quite enough but the starters are some of their best selections. Not the most exciting vegetarian food in the world, but it’s a good place for a quick, healthy meal and a fresh juice. The restaurant is owned by a vegetarian from Malaysia, which may have inspired the vegetarian laksa on the menu.

Fate Blessing Buddha
Monireth Blvd. Look for access road leading to car park from KFC at City Mall. Restaurant is green building on the right.
8:00 to 20:00 daily

The Vegetarian
11 St 200, off Norodom Blvd
10:00 to 20:00 Monday – Saturday
T: 012 905 766

The counter of Vego Salad Bar on Street 51

Get a salad-to-order at Vego Salad Bar on Street 51

Vego Salad Bar

The first time I walked into Vego Salad Bar I immediately walked back outside to make sure that I was still in Cambodia. After being reassured by a verbal assault from half a dozen motodops, I went back in to enjoy a made-to-order salad. If you’re a fan of salad, Vego is the best option in town. For $3.75 you can create a salad with romaine, oak leaf, iceberg, rocket or spinach greens with four extra veggie or fruit toppings such as broccoli, mango, tomatoes and chick peas. There are options to add various cheeses, croutons and eggs as well. There are a few seafood additions for the non-vegetarians as well. For an additional $0.50 you can have your salad made into a wrap. The wraps are homemade and delicious, with the perfect amount of chewiness. They also offer bagels and fresh-made juices such as apple ginger and carrot melon.

The interior is thoroughly modern and spotlessly clean, with fresh white walls, and wood and glass counters. It’s a relaxing place to get your five a day and pretend you’re in California for an hour. They also offer free home delivery. Highly recommended.

Vego Salad Bar
Street 51 (Pasteur) at Sihanouk in front of Wat Langka
T: (012) 984 596
Open daily, 07:00-21:00

K’nyay

K’nyay serves delicious vegetarian and vegan Khmer dishes in a stylish, contemporary environment. In addition to having diverse and creative menu items like jackfruit curry and an excellent banana curry with cumin, coriander and turmeric, the menu also includes Khmer classics like amok and char kreung which are prepared with higher-quality ingredients and a fastidiousness that is not seen in many of the more standard Khmer restaurants. Mains are served with white or wild rice and there are fresh juices, smoothies and soya shakes to wash it all down with.

The head chef at K’nyay is a Friends graduate and the restaurant believes that a vegan menu can be satisfying to everyone, and as such, all items on the menu contain no animal products. However, most of the main courses do have the option to add seafood and meat if desired, so it’s a good option for mixed groups. K’nyay is an excellent option for vegetarians who are nervous to try Khmer food for fear of unexpected prahok — turns out it’s just as good without it.

K’nyay
Suramarit Blvd between Sothearos Blvd and St 19
T: (023) 225 225; (092) 665 225
Open Monday-Friday, 12:00-21:00, Saturday 7:00-21:00, closed on Sundays
knyay.com

About the author
Previously, Lina has been based in Oakland, California, New York City, Dublin and London. Lina spends most of her time thinking about food, travel and synthpop. She's currently based in Siem Reap.
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