After a couple of years of lockdowns, closures and covid related problems it really feels that Siem Reap has turned a corner and life is returning to the (new) normal times that we have all missed. The removal of all covid based restrictions for vaccinated travellers, the re-opening of hotels and restaurants and the incredible new look roads and riverside have made us happy, whilst seeing tourists wandering the (beautiful new) streets has made us very happy.
In addition to the overall feelings of positivity, we have to say that these are also exciting times to be vegan in Siem Reap with new restaurants, expanded vegan menus and even a vegan meal delivery service launching recently. Please check out Hey Bong :: The Healthy Secrets (currently the only all vegan restaurant in Siem Reap), the brand new vegan menu items (featuring vegan cheese, vegan sour cream and OmniMeat) from Maybe Later Mexican Grill and the excellent weekly vegan meal delivery service from Poke Me Siem Reap. We assure you that you won’t be disappointed and we will be writing about them all in more detail very soon.
But right now we want to tell you about what happened this week and why it made us very excited. Not only did Treeline Urban Resort (possibly the most vegan friendly luxury hotel in Siem Reap?) re-open after being closed for a year, but one of the most creative (vegan) chefs in Temple Town collaborated with the excellent Sala Baï Hotel & Restaurant School to deliver an incredible vegan fine dining menu to a group of lucky diners.
Cambodia Vegan Tour
We have been working with the award winning Vegan Travel Asia to create a series of immersive 14 day Cambodia Vegan Tours which launched in December 2022. Exploring the country and learning about the people, the traditions, the culture and the food that makes Cambodia such an enchanting destination. The itinerary for these small group tours will include spending time in Phnom Penh, Battambang, Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary and Siem Reap. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to join our Cambodia vegan tours!
JOMNO Modern Khmer Cuisine
When Chef Seiha from the excellent JOMNO, and the chefs from Sala Baï collaborate to create a multi-course vegan fine dining meal you just know that this was an evening not to be missed. For a couple of years, Chef Seiha has been innovating and impressing with creative plant-based dishes (see pictures below) from his Wat Damnak restaurant, with many considering him to be one of the best chefs in Temple Town. Check out this post and video where we featured him alongside a couple of our other favourite chefs (we’re talking about you Chef Chantrea and Chef Pola), highlighting some of their most popular dishes.
JOMNO is due to temporarily close after Khmer New Year whilst they relocate to a new venue. Don’t worry, they will be back soon and we wish Chef Seiha and his team all the very best of luck for the future!
Sala Baï Hotel & Restaurant School
The team from Sala Baï have been offering hospitality training in Siem Reap for over 20 years and during that time have seen more than 1600 trainees graduate, before finding employment in this exciting industry. The training at Sala Baï is offered free of charge and is supported by a French NGO called Agir Pour Le Cambodia (meaning ‘Act for Cambodia’), they work together to ‘fight poverty and human trafficking in Cambodia through social and professional training of young underprivileged Cambodians’. You can support them by joining them for lunch which is available Monday-Friday, or by booking one of their beautifully appointed rooms for your next visit to Siem Reap or staycation. If you are vegan, please let them know in advance so they can cater for you as breakfast is included in your room rate.
Vegan hospitality training
This collaboration not only meant that we could all enjoy an incredible vegan meal, but is the start of an initiative from Sala Baï to ensure that their trainees have an understanding of veganism, ensuring that when they move on to employed by restaurants, hotels and resorts in the region, they are fully prepared to cater for the ever growing number of guests who wish to enjoy plant based food. We are excited to say that we are in talks with the team from Sala Baï to help them on this journey, this is something we are very passionate about and continue to offer to our hospitality industry partners in an effort to make vegan travel and vegan dining easier for everyone in the region.
Vegan wines from Celliers d’Asie
Of course, any vegan fine dining meal needs a selection of vegan friendly wines to pair with each course. Our ‘go to’ for finding out which wines are vegan friendly has always been Barnivore, the user generated website that lists all of your favourite vegan friendly drinks. But here is Siem Reap we are lucky to have the team from Celliers d’Asie who are not only the leading wine supplier in Cambodia, but they’ve worked hard over the past few years with their growers and suppliers to create an extensive list of vegan friendly wines. For this sold out event that supplied red, white, rose and sparkling wines that were perfect matches for the food.
Vegan fine dining meal from Sala Baï and JOMNO
So, tell us more about the vegan fine dining we hear you ask? We enjoyed six courses of thoughtfully created and beautifully plated plant based food in the elegant on site restaurant at Sala Baï. The chefs and trainees worked tirelessly to ensure that every element of these delicious dishes was nutritionally balanced and presented with style and panache. Our vegan fine dining experience began with an amuse bouche trio of mushroom pate, vegan scallop and a taro croquette, and ended with a dessert featuring rose apple mousse, coconut cream, maple syrup and soursop sorbet. The courses in between including those pictured below; the beetroot and avocado tartare with fresh wakame served with a fried pumpkin flower (stuffed with vegan ricotta cheese) was divine, whilst the cold cucumber soup with dumplings and vegan parmesan boasted hints of truffle and a unique flavour profile. The vegan cutlet with gravy (sorry, no picture) was excellent, and the main course of Siem Reap wellington was divine, a real favourite for any pastry lovers out there, that’s for sure! Quite simply, we were impressed, very impressed and are excited to see what the team can create over the coming months as they continue their vegan culinary journey…
Treeline Urban Resort has re-opened!
When one of your favourite luxury hotels in Southeast Asia announces they are re-opening, this is indeed exciting news. But when Treeline Urban Resort follow that announcement with the news that HOK Noodle Bar will remain closed for the time being, that initial excitement is tinged with sadness. That’s until you find out that CANOPY will be opening, offering a selection of dishes from HOK, including 5 (yes, 5) delicious and mouth watering plant based dishes. So that left us with no other choice but to head there on opening night and order all 5 (yes, all 5) of these vegan creations from Chef Chantrea.
For those of you that don’t know, CANOPY is the rooftop and poolside space that boasts stunning treetop and sunset views, so not only did we get to enjoy our favourite vegan dishes from HOK, but we done so whilst lapping up the unique Temple Town vistas. Guests who make a reservation at Treeline Urban Resort can also enjoy a plant based breakfast, as featured in our pre-covid, vegan friendly luxury hotel review. Anyone fancy vegan bangers and hash!?
Plant based delights at Treeline Urban Resort
So without further ado, here are the 5 plant based dishes which made us very happy indeed when we visited CANOPY at Treeline last week. We ordered the vegan gyoza and the nom krouk (traditional coconut rice dumplings served with carrot ketchup and avocado puree) as a starter to share, we can honestly say they are the best vegan gyoza we’ve ever had and the nom krok are pretty dame fine too. We could happily eat a few plates of this dynamic due and be very content indeed. But of course we needed to ‘research’ and make sure that our memories of the vegan food at Treeline were correct, so we shared the Miso grilled eggplant which comes topped with spring onion & roasted sesame seeds, the wok tossed green vegetables with cashew nuts and the kroeung tofu & veggie skewers too.
We already told you that these are exciting times to be vegan in Siem Reap and this meal just confirmed this claim. It was an absolute pleasure to meet the super friendly Treeline team again and we loved dining on the rooftop. The vegan food? It’s some of the best in town, for sure…
Being vegan Siem Reap continues to get a whole lot easier…
With some of our favourite vegan and vegan friendly restaurants closing during covid, we were starting to worry that the rapid growth in vegan options that we had experienced during the past 7 years had come to an end. But we needn’t have worried, it’s an exciting time to be vegan in Siem Reap and we are sure that will continue to be the case. Well done to Sala Baï, JOMNO and Treeline for continuing to move things in the right direction, the future is vegan…
Check out our other Cambodia vegan travel blog posts