The first, if you’re staying at a homestay, is to dine with your host family, which you will need to organise in advance with the CBET centre so that they can alert the family before they go to the market for the day’s shopping. We didn’t eat with our host family this time, but our experiences of this in the past have always been fascinating. It’s a wonderful way to experience everyday family life, and enjoy simple but flavoursome dishes. Your host family may or may not speak a little English, but it’s amazing how much you can communicate with smiles and a little willing.
The CBET centre serves up breakfast and dinner every day. They aim to serve up something different each time, so we tucked into some sweet scrambled eggs — unusual — and baguette before taking off on our hike, and some delicious veggie dishes with rice and noodles one evening. We regretted missing the night before when, among other things, they were serving up stuffed bitter gourd and stir-fried pork. In theory, you could almost work your way through the whole Cambodian culinary repertoire by dining here, and we consider that to be not a bad idea. Meals at the CBET centre need to be booked in advance. Breakfasts usually cost $2.50, and evening meals, $5. Attached to the main building, a small open-fronted bar has beers, wines and cocktails at very reasonable prices.
Heading out of the village, Danatra Kitchen serves up a nice selection of soups, curries and stir-fries that are prepared from scratch and very tasty. This is a very friendly and welcoming spot, just above the CBET centre — heading away from the river. The family seems to never stop working, and they speak excellent English. They also serve beers and soft drinks. And you might even score some palm wine if you ask nicely.
Next door to the CBET centre, Chalin Restaurant serves up a small menu of simple dishes. The service is decidedly unenthusiastic, and the food is not the greatest either, but they’re cheaper than the other options if that’s what you’re looking for. A filling plate of fried rice with vegetables and an egg was just $1.50. Plates of fried noodles, vegetables or soup can also be had for the same price, or less. They also have a small shop with a selection of snacks, beers and soft drinks.
If you’re going on long treks, you will be assigned a cook-guide to join your trip. Ours was fantastic, and indeed we never had the slightest tummy twinge during our entire trip until we got back to the capital city.