House and Garden
Condé Nast; Destinations: Siem Reap; January, 2018
With visitor numbers to Cambodia steadily on the rise, Siem Reap - famous primarily as the gateway to the magnificent temples of Angkor - is riding the crest of the wave, its burgeoning scene of fashion, design, food and culture largely the result of a thriving and creative expat community drawn to life here. So it is no surprise to find a Scottish chef, Steven Halcrow, and an American food-writer-turned-blogger, Lina Goldberg, operating twice daily food tours in and around Siem Reap. While morning tours tend to focus more on the local, rural Cambodian way of life - the growing of vegetables, the rearing of animals, the production of herbs and spices - the evening tours are geared towards authentic Khmer street food in Siem Reap's off-the-beaten-track outer reaches.
Our four-hour journey by tuk-tuk with Steven, who speaks fluent Khmer, starts at a street cart for noodles, progresses to a busy canteen for slabs of smouldering barbecued beef, and moves on to a stall laden with durian for a lesson in overcoming the fruit's notorious stench. After pungent fish curry in the backyard of a simple home, we end at the fabulous night food market - a ramshackle collection of tents, tuk-tuks and bicycles on the outskirts of town, where locals hang out enjoying the cool of darkness and where the smoky scent of barbecues hang heavy in the air. Spatchcocked chicken and tender pork ribs dipped in lime and pepper sauce prove as memorable as the evening itself.
The Food Tourism Trend; October, 2017
From local street food and rising celebrity chefs, to bustling markets and rich green paddies, Cambodia has a wealth of potential for global foodies.
“We hear from more and more visitors who are looking for a deeper understanding of Cambodia while they are here, and there’s no better way to do that than through the cuisine,” says Lina Goldberg, co-founder of Siem Reap Food Tours. “Food tours are a way to see the town and explore the cuisine without all of the effort of a cooking class.”
Having hunted down some of Siem Reap’s best spots to feast on local food – with hygiene playing a big role in choosing options – Siem Reap Food Tours offers a morning and evening of delving into the country’s dining options.
Early birds can catch Cambodian breakfast with the morning jaunt that takes in a visit to the food market, street food stalls and into the countryside. The evening tour takes in the street stalls that come out at dusk, sampling Cambodian barbecue and dishes such as kroeung, or frogs stuffed with a local curry paste.
While food takes centre stage, a main part of Siem Reap Food Tours’ philosophy is to use Cambodia’s culinary world as a way of giving visitors an insight into local life. The tour takes in trips to meet food producers, market sellers, noodle makers, street food vendors and small family-run restaurants in Siem Reap.
“Although it has similarities to that of neighbouring countries, Cambodian food is unique,” says Goldberg. “The cuisine is defined by terroir, the locality of its ingredients, features freshwater fish from the Tonle Sap, root spices, and foraged herbs, flowers, and wild fruit, and Siem Reap is known for its abundance of fresh ingredients and delicious dishes.”
Going Places, Malaysia Airlines Magazine
Temple Your Taste Buds; July, 2017
While some stare open-mouthed with wonder at the temples of Siem Reap, others indulge their senses in equally satisfying ways
...We make one final roadside pit-stop for a dessert of sticky rice and chunks of steamed sponge pudding that are drenched in coconut milk. It's a sweet finale to our edible exploration of Siem Reap, and we enjoy it on wobbly plastic chairs while watching the tuk tuks ferry passengers back and forth to the market.
I ask Halcrow if he ever misses his Michelin-starred days. “Good food is good food, regardless of how it's served and how much it costs,” he says, after pondering the question for a moment. “Whether it's served on a plate or on the side of the road, it doesn't matter.”
With my pants now a little snugger than at the start of the evening, I have to agree.
Street Food in Siem Reap; April, 2017
Tackling Siem Reap’s street food culture may be a daunting prospect for a new visitor to Cambodia. For that, there is Siem Reap Food Tours.
After three days in Siem Reap, we were about to give up. We tried asking locals (they pointed us towards the touristy Pub Street for pad Thai) and we tried any stall that looked promising, but a minor bout of food poisoning later, it seemed that the Cambodian street food scene is beyond the grasp of the non-Khmer-speaking tourist. Thankfully, we booked a tour with Siem Reap Food Tours for our fourth day.
Founded by Cambodian expats Steven Halcrow and Lina Goldberg, Siem Reap Food Tours offers a unique perspective into one of the least understood food cultures of South-East Asia.
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.