There’s a lot of heart and humour in this little riverside sweet spot. Sister Srey is the creation of two young Australian sisters who were on all set to make their fame and fortune in London but decided on the way that Siem Reap is actually where it’s at — and who could blame them? They opened up at the end of 2012, and have been running crowd control ever since as fans flock in for the widely hailed, and super strong, coffee, (mostly) health conscious meals and the girls’ quirky, fun and positive approach to life, the universe and everything.
The sisters brought a little experience and oceans of energy, creativity and charm to the enterprise, and it seems to be a winning combination. People may come the first time for the food or the coffee, but they end up coming back again and again for the warm and friendly service and boundless happy vibes this place drums up.
This is mainly western fare with a couple of Khmer dishes thrown in like the hearty breakfast soup, filled to the brim with noodles and vegetables making a perfect hangover cure for only $3, $4 if you add chicken. You’ll also find things like green eggs and ham, which is scrambled eggs, crispy bacon and pesto, or breakfast trifle, a triple layering of granola, fresh fruits and yoghurt, both for $3.50.
For lunch, you can make your own sandwich, which is incredibly good value, or tuck into something more substantial, with a selection of salads, burgers, and speciality sandwiches. Notwithstanding the burgers, the focus is mainly on healthy food, and Sister Srey is the only restaurant in town that specifically offers raw food dishes. These tend to be on the specials board, so check out the mirror at the back of the room.
On that note, anyone who hasn’t tried raw food before should try the ridiculously good raw food passion fruit ‘cheese cake’ ($3), made with milled nuts and coconut on a crunchy fruit and nut base, topped off with a passionfruit reduction. It may sound worthy, but it tastes like sin. On the savoury front, a ‘detox salad’ ($4) made up from raw veg with a lime and coconut dressing is graced by two bliss balls, two dense spheres of nuts, fruit, dates and shredded coconut. If it were any more healthy, it would have to be offered on prescription only. It’s also super-tasty. Closed on Mondays.
A team of two, their two-floor venture is also a double act. The ground level is home to the informal cafe, while a narrow spiral staircase leads you up to “Twiggy”, their boutique and reading lounge. Here you’ll find a small collection of fun, flirty dresses, floaty shirts, vintage jewellery and spa products. While not priced to match your US$2 “Same Same But Different” T-shirt, it’s worth pointing out it is not all that easy to find Western-sized clothes that are up to speed with what the ever-changing world of fashion is doing outside of Cambodia, should you need to stock up.
Alternatively browse through the collection of handcrafted products from local NGOs or peruse the book collection and curl up in the rattan chairs, or perch on the bar stools overlooking the river as life goes on by.
This is a laid-back hang-out, that stays open until 19:00, and will reward any visit, whether you’re up for breakfast, brunch or lunch, or just a chance to watch the world go by.
Nicky Sullivan is an Irish freelance writer (and aspiring photographer). She has lived in England, Ireland, France, Spain and India, but decided that her tribe and heart are in Cambodia, where she has lived since 2007 despite repeated attempts to leave. She dreams of being as tough as Dervla Murphy, but fears there may be a long way to go. She can’t stand whisky for starters. She was a researcher, writer and coordinator for The Angkor Guidebook: Your Essential Companion to the Temples, now one of the best-selling guidebooks to the temples.
Our top 10 places to eat and drink around Siem Reap