Even though Jaan Bai isn’t a fully vegan restaurant, it quickly became one of our favourite restaurants in Cambodia after we visited there and attempted to eat nearly everything we could on the menu.
It’s the social enterprise arm of The Cambodian Children’s Trust who support disadvantaged children and young people in Cambodia. The restaurant gives young people the opportunity to work and learn new skills so when you eat there you get to give a little something back to people who need it.
On top of all this social good though, Jaan Bai serve local, seasonal, organic produce (yes!) and some really, really good vegan food (double yes!), plus there’s a great vibe in the place… what’s not to love?
The Vegan Food:
Our first choice was the ‘cous cous salad with roasted eggplant, baby corn, pumpkin and fresh herbs’ which we’ll admit to not being that excited about until we tasted it. A cous cos salad is always something that is a bit of a ‘throw together at the last minute because you haven’t made any proper food’ in our house, but not at Jaan Bai. Here you can expect fresh herb flavours mixed in with olive oil and a generous amount of those roasted vegetables; it was simple but delicious and we were pleasantly surprised.
We paired this with ‘shiitake mushroom bao with slaw and peanuts’ but had no idea just how impressive this dish would turn to be. As far as we knew, ‘bao’ are those big, steamed white dumplings that sit in glass cabinets on the side of the street, often filled with sweet beans or meat, but we were wrong. Meaty shiitake mushrooms stuffed inside the soft steamed ‘open’ buns with some crunchy pickled slaw and a bit of spicy sauce are the things our new vegan food dreams are made of.
Our large plate selection was a ‘potato, corn and tomato curry with cucumber relish’ which was a rich coconut cream based curry full of flavour from the curry paste and packed with vegetables. We wanted to love this dish but it was a little too sweet and not spicy enough for us, however it was one of those things that seemed to have so much potential that we’d probably order it again and ask for less sugar to be added.
The last thing that we’ve got to tell you about is the chips. It’s a sign of a kitchen where people have pride in what they serve when you get chips that are this good. ‘Hand cut chips with house made spicy tomato’ just happens to be some of the best chips we’ve eaten since beginning our Vegan Food Quest to find, eat and write about the best vegan food in the world. Even though they weren’t served with Heinz tomato ketchup (which has yet to be improved on by any professional chef in our book) we loved them. Made from real potatoes, with their skins on and then fried in a nice light oil so they were properly crispy, they were also big enough so you could actually taste the potato flavour.
Top marks for your awesome chips Jaan Bai.
We really wanted to try dessert too as the pandan sticky rice with mango and shredded coconut sounded like it had been created with us in mind, but were defeated by the huge amount of food we had already eaten.
Next time though, those vegan desserts are in our sights!
The Vegan Food Quest Verdict:
Go and eat at Jaan Bai in Battambang to enjoy great vegan food whilst supporting a good social cause too. Don’t forget to order the ‘shitake bao’ and try out the amazing hand cut chips too.
next to Psar Nat
Telephone: +855 (0) 78 263 144
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 1100 – 2230
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