If you want vegan food that is prepared completely separate from meat dishes, your best bet might be specialist vegetarian restaurants. Here is a list of serving vegan dishes restaurants in some Cambodian’ main cities.
1- Siem Reap
- Chamkar (With 2 locations in town and plenty of traditional Khmer cuisine on offer, Chamkar is a must visit for all vegan travelers passing through Siem Reap)
- Haven (Haven trains and supports vulnerable young people, who may be from orphanages or very rural poor areas, to work in their very fabulous restaurant)
- Peace Café (Make sure your tuk-tuk driver takes you to the new location by the river)
- Sister Srey
- Veg G Table (It’s not all veggie but the menu is mainly vegan-friendly and has been created with passion and the love for tasty)
- Vegan Villa (Siem Reap’s very own 100% vegan place to stay listed on Airbnb!)
- Vitking House (This is a very local vegetarian place, popular with students. It’s cheap and uses fake meat)
- Jaan Bai (a social enterprise restaurant that had legendary chef David Thompson create the menus)
- Ellies Cafe Kampot
- Dao of Life
5- Phnom Penh
- Hummus House
- ARTillery Café (whilst not vegan they offer a variety of raw and vegan options)
- Evergreen Vegetarian
- The Corn
- Cafe Soleil (Most dishes are only $2-3)
The main enemies of any vegan and vegetarian in Cambodia will be fish sauce, oyster sauce, chicken powder, and prawns. Fish sauce, oyster sauce, and chicken powder are frequently used for flavoring, even in many vegetable dishes. If the restaurant menu has descriptions in English, it will often (but not always!) indicate when oyster sauce or prawns are used. However, fish sauce and chicken powder can be trickier to figure out, so it’s always good to confirm with the server (see below for helpful Khmer phrases).
One last word of caution on avoiding dairy: be sure to read the ingredients on non-dairy milk before purchasing. The Lactasoy milk brand, which is popular in Cambodia, has multiple varieties of soy milk, most of which contain milk or milk powder. The vegetarian soy milk will be labeled “vegetarian” and usually comes in a pink carton. It is possible to find rice milk, coconut milk, and other non-dairy milk but you’ll have to do a bit more searching.
Vegetable fried rice or noodles: You can order this practically anywhere, even when it’s not on the menu. If you are vegan, just ask for no egg.
Vegetable stir-fry or vegetable noodles: Two more vegetable dishes that can frequently be found at Khmer or Western restaurants. Just specify no fish or oyster sauce.
Vegetable amok: You may think you will not be able to try one of the signature Cambodian dishes, amok. It’s a curry-like dish with coconut milk that is traditionally made with fish. However, some restaurants make versions of amok with vegetables and mushroom or tofu and it’s delicious! The Corn in Phnom Penh and Chamkar in Siem Reap both serve up a great vegan amok.
Red Curry: The vegetable version of a Khmer red curry is similar to Thai curry but less spicy. Pumpkin curry is quite common.
Mango Salad: A popular salad in Cambodia made with green mango, peanuts, and herbs. You’ll need to get it without fish sauce and shrimp
Banana Flower Salad: Banana flower salad usually contains chicken but you can ask for a veggie version in some restaurants
Chive cakes: They usually consist of rice flour, coconut milk, and chives, sometimes with kale or other greens mixed in too.
Kralan: bamboo tubes stuffed with sticky rice, red beans, grated coconut and coconut milk, and roasted over charcoal at the street stalls
Grilled Bananas & Sweet Potato Cakes: In Khmer they are called Domlong An or Noum Domlong Barang and only cost 500 riel ($0.12)
Rice flour ‘donut’ filled with sweet bean (nom groy): made by stuffing a rice flour dough with a paste of sweet yellow beans and then deep frying and topping with sesame seeds.