Shinta Mani Angkor

It’s probably worth confessing that we already have a soft spot for Shinta Mani Angkor for a number of reasons. It was one of the first luxury hotels we stayed in when we moved to Siem Reap in 2015, we are seasoned fans of the work of hotel architect and creative visionary Bill Bensley and we have spent many an evening with friends and family sitting in the swing seats outside their signature restaurant Kroya, enjoying dinner. Having said that, our visits over the last couple of years have dwindled as Siem Reap’s vegan dining scene expanded, offering so many choices, that even committed vegan food lovers like ourselves, can’t go everywhere, all of the time. So when we checked in for a staycation with one of our old favourites, we were unsure if we’d still get those same good feelings borne from the excellent service, the satisfying design and the abundance of really good vegan food.

Shinta Mani Angkor exterior
Shinta Mani Angkor lobby
Shinta Mani Angkor entrance
Shinta Mani Angkor swing seats

Fast forward to check-in, and it was just like we had never left. Smooth and efficient service, the warmest of welcomes and a chilled coconut on arrival (no plastic straw of course) before we settled into our room, complete with balcony overlooking the courtyard lap pool. We were most definitely home, at a hotel that holds many fond memories. The room was modern, chic and stylish which is exactly how we rembered the inspired design, courtesy of Mr Bensley and his talented team. We loved the shaded balcony and the huge, walk in rain shower but it was the contents of the mini bar that really made us smile. Yes, we had ice cold beers, water in glass bottles and juices, however, the team at Shinta Mani Angkor had excelled themselves by removing the dairy milk and replacing it with almond milk. It’s small touches like this that go a long way to reassure us that they really do understand their vegan guests. Also, it meant we could make our own decaf almond milk lattes with the in room coffee machine. Perfect.

Shinta Mani Angkor deluxe room
Shinta Mani Angkor Almond Milk

The Vegan Food

Breakfast at Shinta Mani Angkor presented refined versions of Khmer classics, the flavours you find in the bustling markets of Cambodia, the fresh produce, the colours, smells and beautiful exotic ingredients. The vegan breakfast menu (available upon request) has enough options to keep any guest happy for days. There were healthy light dishes like broccoli,  spinach and and soft tofu with a classic sweet and sour sauce, full of the right amount of sweetness from tiny cubes of fresh pineapple and sourness from fresh tomato. There were also irresistible choices like a vegan version of one of Cambodia’s most beloved breakfast dishes ‘nom banh chok.’ Handmade rice noodles, always sourced from small artisanal operations in the countryside villages outside of Siem Reap, swimming in a kroueng laced, creamy coconut broth. Topped with edible water hyacinth flowers, raw vegetables (beans, water lily stems, cucumber, beansprouts) and fresh khmer herbs like Asian coriander, it’s a bowl of deliciousness that is not to be missed. There were chive cakes or ‘nom ga chai’ as they are called in Cambodia. Usually seen on street carts on the dusty roadside, where they sizzle on huge oversized hot plates in an inch of hot oil, the Shinta Mani Angkor version was beautiful, delicate and delicious. It was also 100% vegan, something that sadly cannot be guaranteed in the regular version as the use of fish sauce is standard. Crispy and satisfyingly chewy on the outside, then the soft and melt in the mouth rice based dumpling before the final succulent green chives and beansprouts in the middle. All drenched in a palm sugar and lemon sauce. There are few pleasures that match up to a perfectly cooked chive cake like this.

Shinta Mani Angkor coffee and vegan muffins
Shinta Mani Angkor vegan sweet and sour tofu
Shinta Mani Angkor vegan nom banh chok
Shinta Mani Angkor vegan nom ga chi

And because we’re in Cambodia, where the sweet tooth reigns supreme, there were sweet treats like banana and almond mini muffins served with our decaf, almond milk cappuccinos and vegan waffles with fresh fruit. We’re not straying too far from the ‘Khmer favourites veganised’ theme because head to any local market in Siem Reap and you’re bound to find someone selling waffles cooked in waffle irons over a wood fire. Sadly they’re never vegan but happily we have Chef Som Ann to mend our broken hearts. The mini muffins were warm and oven fresh; soft, moist, cakey goodness with crispy slivers of almond atop. The waffles were every bit as dreamy as we hoped; sweet, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Topped with fresh seasonal fruit and a sauce of puréed papaya sweetened with palm sugar, they were the perfect breakfast dessert to complete our plant based breakfast.

Shinta Mani Angkor Vegan Muffins 2
Shinta Mani Angkor vegan 1

We enjoyd dinner at Kroya from a specially prepared vegan menu which is also available upon request. Our meal started with a couple of dishes that caught our eye due to their striking presentation. An amuse bouche of compressed watermelon and green mango, lined up like little fruity liquorice all sorts, followed by rolls of marinated eggplant, wrapped around cucumber and lettuce and stood up like tiny trees, with mint leaves, penny wort and radish. They tasted as good as they looked meaning we devoured every last morsel before eagerly awaiting our next dish.

Shinta Mani Angkor vegan starter
Shinta Mani Angkor vegan eggplant rolls

We didn’t have to wait long before another exciting dish was served; crispy rice, shredded banana flower and a kind of Asian salsa dressed with soy, a miniature nest of shredded fried carrot with silky smooth battered tofu nestled inside. Divine. Next up, was a healthy and nutritous bowl of ‘bro hoer’. This soup with white basil, spinach and vegetables in a light broth is a Cambodian staple so it was great to enjoy a veganised version at Shinta Mani Angkor. We loved the creamy smooth Khmer curry, rich with kroueng and laden with vegetables, and we just about managed to save room for a trio of desserts. Coconut jelly which was sweet, light, and dissolved deliciously on the tongue, caramelised sweet potatoes topped with chewy sticky coconut in palm sugar and a pod of jackfruit, stuffed with sweet sticky rice and shredded fresh coconut. Decadent, delicious and delightful, the perfect way to end our vegan meal at Kroya.

Shinta Mani Angkor vegan food
Shinta Mani Angkor vegan soup
Shinta Mani Angkor vegan yellow curry
Shinta Mani Angkor vegan dessert

The Vegan Essentials

We already mentioned the almond milk in our room which was a ‘vegan win’ for sure. We can also confirm that there were no single use plastic water bottles in our room and the bathroom amenities were in reusable, ceramic disapensers. It’s possible to request feather free bedding too which always makes us happy. The lap pool was the ideal place to relax, and any visit to Shinta Mani Angkor should include a visit to Khmer Tonics Spa where you can choose from a wide array of treatments. Our hot stone massages in one of the couples spa suites were outstanding, the therapists were thorough and attentive throughout our session, providing one of the best spa experiences we’ve enjoyed for a very long time.

Shinta Mani Angkor lap pool
Shinta Mani Angkor spa

The Vegan Food Quest Verdict

Our stay at Shinta Mani Angkor reminded us just how much we like this Siem Reap luxury hotel. The design ticks all of the boxes in both the public areas and the rooms; stylish, mono choromatic and full of character. The service (with a smile) is delivered by a staff team who clearly believe in the vision of Shinta Mani and are proud to be part of the team. The (vegan) food was creative and very tasty indeed; a selection of veganised Khmer classics with a modern twist that will ensure we return in the very near future. Highly recommended for a staycation, and make sure it’s high on your list of Siem Reap hotels to consider when the borders open post COVID.

Vegan Food Quest small banner logo

We were guests of Shinta Mani Angkor but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.

Shinta Mani Angkor
Junction of Oum Khun & 14th Street
Siem Reap
Cambodia

Telephone: +855-63-964-123
Email: book@shintamani.com
Cost From:
£75 / $105 – Jan 2021 (discounted rates during COVID)