Considering the town’s size, eating options in Kompong Thom are reasonable, with a fine night market, some decent local cafes and a couple of slightly more upmarket ones, plus a choice of two spots offering Western dishes.
We were repeatedly pointed to the large, ground floor restaurant at Arunras Hotel. Constantly bustling from the passing bus trade, the menu has a range of Khmer dishes and some basic Western options, with fried rice or noodles from around $3 upwards, other main dishes come in around $3 to $5. The food is fine though there is little in the way of atmosphere. Almost opposite, the Stung Sen Restaurant on the east side of the highway opposite the market is another popular bus stopover with a very similar layout, menu, quality and prices, but we prefer Arunras.
Another well-located option is Kompong Thom Restaurant on the riverbank immediately to the east side of Kompong Thom’s double bridge. This has an outdoor seating area plus an air-con room—go for the garden setting for a bit of a river view. The Kompong Thom has certain pretensions and while offerings are slightly more sophisticated than at Arunras, prices are marginally higher. Nevertheless this was the best place we found in town for a cold drink and a few snacks overlooking the river. There is a long bench in the garden area which offers the best views. Service is slow, but friendly and the menu is largely bilingual with both Western and Khmer food on offer.
A rather good night market sets up in front of Kompong Thom market from late afternoon, offering simple rice and noodle dishes as well as grilled chicken, duck and pork, along with brochettes, and excellent local-style sandwiches. Beers, soft drinks and fruit juices are also available though note these are rarely chilled and you may want to be careful of the local ice.
For cocktails and better-prepared Western food, Sambor Village has a solid menu offered in a very pleasant upstairs downstairs setting in a Khmer-style wooden house—prices are reasonable given the standard, and there is a medium sized swimming pool on site. The resort is located about a ten minute walk from the market, east along the river.
Previously Run Amok Restaurant and Cafe, Love Cafe and Pizza was the only other Western-focussed place we could find in Kompong Thom. The menu is primarily pizza and burgers and our bacon and cheese burger ($3.75) hit the spot. Staff were friendly and also sell a range of cute cacti—just what you were after right?
On the way to Love Cafe and Pizza there are a couple of Khmer BBQ places. We didn’t have time to try them, but if BBQ is your thing, they could be worth a go. BBQ+1 looked like the better and more popular of the options. Evenings only.
Arunras Restaurant National Route 6, Kompong Thom; T: (012) 836 107, (012) 563 091; Mo–Su: 07:00–20:30.
BBQ+1 Democrat St, Kompong Thom; T: (010) 899 959; Evenings only.
Kompong Thom Restaurant National Route 6, Kompong Thom; T: (061) 221 081, (0713) 614 422; Mo–Su: 07:00–21:00.
Love Cafe and Pizza Democrat St, Kompong Thom; T: (017) 916 219, (070) 693 478; .
Sambor Village Democrat St; 600m from National Route 6; T: (062) 961 391, (017) 924 612; Mo–Su: 06:30–21:30. .
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.