Cooking schools in Battambang

Great value and tasty food

No pic at the moment -- Sorry!

What we say: 4.5 stars

The best known of Battambang's cooking schools (and the original) – indeed owner Vannak claims to have started the first cooking courses in Cambodia! -- is Smokin' Pot.

This old standby restaurant claims to offer the longest running cooking class in Cambodia -- going strong for more than 12 years. The class is run by the owner himself, Vannak Robie, who was a tad grumpy when we first met on the morning of the class but quickly warmed up to our charms. He divulged that the cooking class is not for everyone; if you're particular or picky about what you eat, this is probably not for you. Robie is a seasoned Khmer chef who learned from the female cooks of his large cooking family and his expertise and experience are evident in the informative yet laidback lessons.

Each class is allowed to choose three dishes from the Smokin' Pot's menu before being led through Psar Nath, the local fresh market in town, to pick out ingredients. Our class chose fish amok, beef fried with basil leaves and sgnor chrouk, a fragrant Khmer soup made with lemongrass, galagal and kaffir lime leaves. The food is enjoyed together for a very filling lunch after it's finished.

Robie provided a fun and educational experience that's suitable for all levels of cooking ability. Our group included a seasoned restaurant chef and a guy who could hardly work a toaster, both of whom went home happy. Students are given cookbooks with 12 of the Smokin' Pot's best recipes, which is great, but don't miss the chance to grill Robie on all things Cambodia. At only $10 per person, the class offers great value for money.

Book at least one day in advance for a class.

Some of the other places advertising lessons may have more pleasant surroundings but all follow a similar programme with a guided visit to Psar Nath to check out the products available then the class and eating your lunch afterwards. All schools we saw charged a similar $10 per head for a half-day course. Most hotels will have pamphlets and booking details.

Nary Kitchen: T: (012) 763 950.
Smokin' Pot: 229, Group 8, 20 Ousephea Village, Battambang. T: (012) 821 400.

Last reviewed by:
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.

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