In Siem Reap, a Food Crawl Through One of Southeast Asia's Underappreciated Cuisines, December, 2016
Get way beyond the guidebook and take one of the excellent Siem Reap Food Tours. Expertly navigated by Scottish chef Steven Halcrow or American writer Lina Goldberg, your small group will zip around town on tuk tuks, stopping at a handful of eateries to sample their specialties and learn more about ingredients native to the country and Cambodian cooking and dining customs.
You might try nom banh chok (Khmer noodles), perhaps the most widely eaten dish in the country and one that Halcrow says “is very close to Cambodian people’s hearts” (Cambodians apparently claim that China learned about noodles from them thanks to this dish). Fresh rice noodles are paired with a mixture of prahok (fermented fish) and sweet palm sugar and then topped with crisp raw vegetables, some of which you’ve tasted before (cucumbers, basil, mint) as well as some you may have not (banana blossom, water lily stems).
The New York Times
36 Hours in Siem Reap, July, 2015
Street food in Cambodia is every bit as varied and delicious as that of Thailand or Vietnam. Yet whether for lack of familiarity, fear of prahok (Cambodia’s pungent super-fermented fish condiment) or hygiene worries, few visitors to the kingdom indulge. A morning spent navigating the city’s food markets and street food stalls with the Scottish chef Steven Halcrow or the American writer Lina Goldberg, the two behind Siem Reap Food Tours ($75 per person), will vanquish any doubts. Expect treats like grilled fish paste pancakes wrapped around spicy cucumber pickles, steamed rice flour dumplings oozing coconut cream, jujube fruit (red Chinese dates) stewed in smoky palm sugar and pumpkin-soy milk shakes. Pace yourself, or you’ll end up too stuffed to partake of the tour’s pièce de résistance: num banh chok, cool, slippery rice vermicelli doused with coconut-fish or chile-chicken gravy and tossed with farmed and foraged greens and herbs, all the more delicious eaten after a visit to the village where many families still make the noodles by hand.
Lonely Planet Cambodia; July, 2016
Operated by an experienced Scottish chef with a penchant for stand-up comedy and an American food writer, these tours are a recipe for engaging food encounters. Choose from a morning tour that takes in local markets and the naom banchok noodle stalls of Preah Dak or an evening tour that takes in street stalls and local barbecue restaurants.
Sunday Telegraph; Sunday Herald Sun; Sunday Times; Courier Mail
Sunday Escape: Look, No Temples, September, 2016
If fine dining is far too fancy, and street food is more your speed, then join Siem Reap Food Tours on one of the small-group excursion departing morning or evenings that introduce visitors to “popular Khmer market specialties and street snacks”.
Lina Goldberg and Steven Halcrow are behind Siem Reap Food Tours. He’s a Scottish chef who worked in Michelin-rated restaurants. She’s an American food writer.
The pair wander between trusted restaurants and street stalls to spotlight another side of Cambodian cuisine.
Travel360, AirAsia Magazine
Hit List: Food Treks; April, 2016
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA. If you find unconventional cuisine enticing, then, an evening food tour in Siem Reap is just the thing for you. Enjoy mouth-watering barbequed meats, and sample the more unusual snacks such as frogs stuffed with curry paste. Cap it off with locally brewed beers as you watch the sun set before jostling with the crowd at the local night market. www.siemreapfoodtours.com.
SilverKris, Singapore Airlines Magazine
Siem Reap by Mouth; February, 2016
I sit in an open-air shack about 20 minutes outside devouring num banh chok, toothsome thread-thin rice noodles doused with lush coconut-milk fish curry. On the table next to me is a metal can filled with an edible bouquet of fresh herbs and crisp lotus stems. They’re there for you to forage, coriander and laksa leaves to tear over noodles to add crunch and freshness.
These noodles taste all the better for having watched them made by hand in the garden of a house just up the road – an experience I wouldn’t have had without Siem Reap Food Tours. The venture was founded in late 2014 by two food-loving expats determined to lift the lid on South-east Asia’s least understood street-food culture.
Before my tutorial in num banh chok-making, the group’s co-founder and Khmer-speaking Scottish chef Steven Halcrow leads me through the city’s sprawling Phsar Leu market (7 Makara Street, Krong Preah Siem Reap).
“There is great street food here, but it’s mostly inside morning markets, especially those most tourists don’t go to,” says Halcrow, as he weaves between stalls displaying bundles of salted and smoked fish. Vendors erupt in peals of laughter as Halcrow jokes with them in Khmer while ordering my multiple breakfasts: jujube (a berry-like fruit) stewed to stickiness in ginger-infused palm sugar, an impossibly rich pumpkin-soy milk smoothie and bobor (rice porridge). Then there are tart-sweet-salty pickles called j’ruah, which Halcrow wraps burrito style in prahet (fishcakes).
Not so long ago, visitors to Siem Reap had little opportunity to explore Cambodian food beyond buffets served up before cultural performances. That’s no longer the case. It’s fair to say the town Angkor Wat built is now a destination in its own right for food obsessives looking to deep-dive into the cuisine.
Learning to cook like a local; December, 2015
For a more sober, early bird view of Cambodian street cuisine, Siem Reap Food Tours runs a morning tour starting at 8am. Prahok – the notoriously pungent fish paste nicknamed ‘Cambodian cheese’ – is a particular passion of theirs, and they promise to introduce the intimidating ferment to curious new tongues.
The tour moves from the busy markets of Siem Reap centre up through the gorgeous countryside near Angkor Wat, to sample the rural breakfast cuisine num banh chok. The ubiquitous curried noodle is quite literally a legendary dish, and a Siem Reap Food Tour guide will fill you in on the popular local folktale that stars the humble breakfast. Their evening tour, which starts at 5pm, features Cambodian barbecue frogs stuffed with a local curry paste called kroeung, and likely a few local beers.
Phnom Penh Post
Foodie market tours seek to solve Cambodian cuisine’s image problem; December, 2014
Cambodian cooking suffers from an image problem. Much misunderstood and little loved by foreigners, who believe it consists of little more than derivative fish curries and stinky fish paste, it is frequently, wrongly, dismissed as the bland cousin to Thai cuisine.
One food-obsessed couple working to address that is Lina Goldberg, a travel and food writer, and her fiancé, chef Steven Halcrow, who have started up Siem Reap Food Tours, intended to be an intelligent, informed and fun tour of Siem Reap’s food markets and lesser-known food outlets.
Along the way, they present a whole slew of ingredients, processes and dishes that even long-term visitors may be totally unaware of.