5 reasons for homemade Khmer food

When it comes to authentic food, nearly every restaurant and street stall will claim that they are offering homemade Khmer food in Cambodia. But eben if they do their best, it’s in most cases not even close to the Cambodian food you get in the homes of the locals.

Reason 1: We have enough time

When you order food in a restaurant, you expect the food delivered as fast as possible. But many Khmer dishes do need time to be prepared. So they have to be made in advance, or at least partly prepared, and then warmed up for you. That’s not the case with homemade Khmer food.

Reason 2: Freshness and homemade Khmer food

The food used by our hosts is made of fresh ingredients from the market and their garden.

Our hosts will go to the market on the day of the booking, and when it’s dinner they even go to the afternoon market. This way they can ensure that the ingredients are fresh. The leaves they use are harvested just hours ago, the vegetables arrived in the morning from the farm and the chicken, pigs or cows were slaughtered a day or just hours before.

Reason 3: Watch how they prepare the food

Watch our hosts prepare the meals, or even help to get the best homemade Khmer food experience.

Our hosts have nothing to hide, and that’s why we encourage you to come a bit earlier and watch them preparing the food or even help. The Cambodia way of cooking is not totally different from western cooking. But you will see some differently tools, like the mortar for making spice paste, or the cleaver for cutting everything from meat to vegetables. Round wooden boards are common as well. Some of our hosts will still use open fire, most changed to gas already.

Reason 4: No processed food

The rice we use is Cambodia rice, in most cases from the family’s farm just outside town. All vegetables grow in Cambodia or the neighboring countries. The important thing about homemade Khmer food : everything is made from scratch. Our hosts don’t just open a bag and heat it. They don’t even go to a supermarket to buy the ingredients. Many leaves and even ginger and galangal grow in the garden anyway.

Reason 5: Homemade Khmer food – made with love

Our hosts Mom and Sam: Homemade Khmer food means for them using the morning glory they planted, grew and harvested in their backyard.

Connecting travelers with locals means for us connecting people. at Dine With The Locals we focus on the human touch. It is exiting for travelers to meet locals people, and it’s equally special for locals to have foreigners in the their house or premises. And this extends as well to the way the hosts prepare the food: with love and passion. Our hosts are proud to present you Khmer culture and cuisine, and that’s why they take special care of you and the yummy dishes.

There is another reason why homemade Khmer food is better: Because for you as a traveler it means the upmost authenticity. Nowhere else you can experience the locals food, culture and lifestyle. At Dine With The Locals we provide this unique experience all over Cambodia.


How we ensure our hosts wellbeing

Part of our mission is to provide additional income for women and families in Cambodia by connecting them with travelers through food experiences. While this income is important, the safety and wellbeing of our hosts is even more important. We set up strict rules to ensure our hosts are safe.

Trainings

We train our hosts in role plays to get them a better understanding of the needs travelers have.
We train our hosts in role plays to get them a better understanding of the needs travelers have.

We train our hosts regularly in:

  • Hospitality
  • Food safety
  • Personal income

In the hospitality training they learn how to greet and welcome guests, giving basic introduction about facilities (like where is the toilet), explaining food and how to eat it and share their own experiences with them. In role plays we help them to get comfortable with foreign guests.

The food safety focuses mainly on the food preparation, storage and presentation. Our hosts do not run a restaurants, it’s home cooking, but we make sure that basic food safety rules are applied. All vegetables are washed and cleaned, all meat is properly heated. Prepared food is covered, dishes and plates are properly cleaned. Hand washing is also ensured.

We also give advice to personal income. A big problem in Cambodia is the lack of savings and increasing loans. We explain hosts and families how to save money and bring personal finances in order.

Never alone

Our hosts will never be alone at home when they receive guests. We ensure that at least one additional adult form their family is with them, or one of our statt members will be there. In most cases, our hosts are living with their extended family, so they are not alone.

Check in and out

Our hosts are asked to checkin with us when the guests arrive, after 30 minutes and when the check out. This is to ensure that guests found the place, enjoying the experience, but also that the hosts are feeling well.

Children policy

Since mosts hosts are families with children, they will be on the premise, may help in the kitchen and join the meal, but that is entirely up to the family. Children are under strict supervision of the parents. At no time guests will be alone with children.

Pictures

Our hosts will take a picture of the guests as proof of service, but also for basic safety reasons. Guests can take pictures of hosts and family if they consent. Asia is a region where it is common to take selfies and pictures and we honor this.

Booking food experience in Cambodia

When we started Dine With The Locals, one reason was to make access to many choices of food experience in Cambodia as easy as possible. For now, travelers have to check several websites from different tour operators. Every has his own food tour, works with a certain home or family and also many have usually the same kind of food. Even cooking classes provide the common dishes.

That‘s why we decided to offer choices for food experience in Cambodia on a platform. This ensures a lot of variety of places, dishes, places and people. It is also more easy for travelers to choose and book. Just browse through our growing lists of hosts (or select a city first) and the explore the diversity of Khmer food and environments as well as Cambodian people.

Our Team with Mom and her daughter, a host in Siem Reap for Dine With The Locals.
Our Team with Mom and her daughter, a host in Siem Reap for Dine With The Locals.

Best food experience in Cambodia

Getting in touch with locals is sometimes an challenge: You can‘t just walk into a people‘s house or yard (even if many will greet and invite you, Cambodians are very friendly). We bring you together with people and places you usually would never meet. Our platform is open to every Cambodian family who want to get connected to tourists and travelers, wants to promote Cambodian food and lifestyle.

Our host Mom and her family members harvesting morning glory from the field behind her house and cook it as part of your food experience in Cambodia.

Food in Cambodia is the best when make at home, because it will be fresh the ingredients are from the market and ready made for you. While street food has to be prepared in advance and cheap, its usually not a good way to try locals cuisine. When you want to have a real food experience in Cambodia, then better dine with the locals. They will pick the leaves from the trees in the garden to make Amok, fry morning glory just cut moments ago in the field and let you also watch, how they prepare the food.

We are the first platform on South East Asia to enable locals to be part of the tourism industry without any investments. Their capital is passion, and our booking process make it easy and fast to have a food experience in Cambodia you will never forget.

Few things to do in Battambang

While Battambang is the second biggest city in Cambodia, travelers still haven’t discovered it’s full potential. For a long time it was a industrial town, but the downtown area has kept it’s charme. There are many thing to do in Battambang, and some are of course related to food.

Most travelers will look for the famous bamboo train in Battambang. During the time when Cambodia was under UN authority, locals made their own lorries and used the old rails to transport good and people – and bamboo. Since Cambodia has it’s civil government, the lorries were still used, but also discovered from the first tourists. Today there are two Bamboo trains, the original and a new one. Forget about the new one, it’s more a local attraction and only goes just in one direction and back.

Explore the surroundings of Battambang

Battambang is also know for the hills around with temples and remains of the Khmer Rouge and the civil war. One of the things to do in Battambang is either renting a bicycle or getting a tuk tuk and go to Phnom Sampov. There is the bat cave (best late afternoon). but also the a cave where the skulls of the fallen and killed Khmer displayed.

The cave at Phnom Sampov in Battambang
Visit the cave at Phnom Sampov, one of the things to do in Battambang.

Things to do in Battabang when hungry

After your excursion you may get hungry, and Battambang is a good place if you like food. It’s famous for grilled rats from the rice fields, but that’s not everybody’s taste. One the list of things to do in Battambang should be a visit at the organic farm run by our host Yem Panha. She is passionate about food and will not only prepare a delicious set of Khmer food, but also take you to a tour around the farm.

Yem Panha runs an organic farm near Battambang (15 min drive), and is passionate about food and healthy lifestyle.
Yem Panha runs an organic farm near Battambang (15 min drive), and is passionate about food and healthy lifestyle.

Another special place for breakfast is the R1 restaurant. You have to come early, because after 8am most of the popular dishes are sold out. What makes it so special ist the cooked black chicken on rice. It is well know with locals in Battambang. And if you are a bit adventurous, then have a pork brain soup on the street 2017 not far from Emerald Hotel.

After your meals reserve some time to visit the galleries in Battambang. The city has a vibrant art scene. Many artists from Phnom Penh moved up north, since it’s more quiet here. The most famous place is Romcheik 5 gallery and art space, where different artists exhibit their work.

The Romcheik gallery is located in street 201 A, not far from the river.

Khmer food and sustainable living

Not too far from Banteay Meanchay in Cambodia is a very special farm. Olivier and Darin, a french guy and his Khmer wife, build an organic farm where the serve Khmer food for Dine With The Locals, but more important trying to be as sustainable as possible.

Darin and Olivier promote Khmer food and sustainable living in Svay Check.

In the heart of the project in Svay Check is the method of permaculture. This means not only a sustainable but also self-suffiencent way of farming and living. The couple bought land what a former rice fields but then abandoned and turned it into an oasis of living conscious and aware of the environment.

What they get from farming is what they cook. That also means that it is impossible to say, what vegetables they will exactly use – or what kind of flowers. We usually ask our hosts to prepare three dishes, but in the case of the organic farm you may can expect some variations. But you can be sure that as much as possible comes from the farm.

Khmer food with organic flowers

One example and not so often seen in Khmer food are fried flowers in tempura. The pick a beautiful arrangement of flowers from the garden, like yello pumpkin flowers, purple butterfly pea and many others. They will then dipped in tempura-water-solution and quickly fried. And don’t worry, the flowers are eatable.

Many flowers can be fried with tempura, its comon in Khmer food and available with Dine With The Locals.

Another example of Khmer food got its Inspiration from neighboring countries is Ban Cheo. In Vietnam people call it Ban Xeo, and its a thin pancake filled with herbs, dried shrimps and pork. You can find it at many markets and street stalls, but usually not at homes. The reason is that you have to make quite an amount of batter, but that is usually too much for a whole family. At Dine With The Locals you have a chance to try this common Khmer food with organic vegetables.

Served will be Khmer food from sustainable farming
Served will be Khmer food from sustainable farming

One of the reasons why we started Dine With The Locals was to support sustainable living and the locals food. Darin and Olivier are the perfect example that it is possible to live sustainable. If you want to try it, you can book a visit at the farm and a delicious meal at Dine With The Locals.

Where to eat in Cambodia

Travelers in Cambodia will get tons of advise of where to eat in Siem Reap or other cities, from fine dining to street food stalls. And yes, the Cambodian cuisine is underrated, Khmer food has way more variety then just Beef Lok Lak and Fish Amok. So, where to eat in Siem Reap and other famous tourist ad travelers spots in the Kingdom of Wonder?

Street food in Siem Reap

Where to eat in Cambodia: Fried scorpions at street food in Siem Reap
Fried scorpions at street food stall in Siem Reap

While street food in Thailand is on everyone’s bucket list, the stalls selling food in Cambodia aren’t so well known. But they are worth a try, not just with our hosts at Dine With The Locals. When you want to know where to eat in Cambodia, Siem Reap is a good start. The best street food in Siem Reap is available at Road 60, right opposite the Angkor Wat Ticket counter. It opens around 5pm, and is still a popular place with locals. While the left lane is usually reserved for shops selling shirts and household items, the right lane has food stalls left and right. Food in Siem Reap at street stalls means you select food at the BBQ or front display ad then sit down in the back on a small table or mat. The owner will heat your food up again on the grill and then serve you at the table. Soft drinks and beer are available as well.

Eat at an organic farm in Battambang

Khmer food at a local home in Battambang with Dine With The Locals
Khmer food at a local home in Battambang with Dine With The Locals

Why not trying something different? Many travelers coming now to Battambang, and it’s also on our map of where to eat in Cambodia. In Battambang we offer you lunch or dinner at an organic farm with our host Yem Panha. She owns an organic farm and sells the vegetables at the market, but also prepares delicious Khmer food in Battambang for our guests. Here is her menu:

  • Omelette with vegetableEggs from the farms chicken and organic vegetables from just the backyard
  • Teuk Trey Pha-em Kind of special Khmer source with mixed fresh vegetables and bacon or fish
  • Sngor Sup Lahong Papaya soup with pork rip
  • Fresh fruits from the garden

Where to eat in Cambodia: Phnom Penh

Where to eat in Cambodia: Noodle soup at K.E. cafe in Phnom Penh
Noodle soup at K.E. cafe in Phnom Penh. Get an idea of the size by comparing the bowl to the cola can.

When in Phnom Penh, the most local experience when it comes to food is having breakfast. The Khmer breakfast is usually a noodle soup, either with white rice noodles or with yellow egg noodles (sometimes called Chinese noodles). If you walk around in the morning hours, you will see a lot of small and crowded restaurants usually on street corners, where people sit in groups, having their noodle soup and a chat as well. Don’t wait until a table is free, it is common to share tables (and improve your language skills). If you want a place that’s a bit more modern, but famous for their large soup bowls, try K.E. cafe (its reviewed by Cambopedia here). It’s a bit out of town on the way to the airport, but we haven’t seen bigger bowls than those.

Why authentic is the next big thing in travel

In their blog Entrepid Travel ( mentioned the top trends in Travel for 2018. One of those trends was “ADVENTURE TRAVEL WILL CATER TO EXPERIENCES. “

It looks like people are done with taking pictures from a cliff or making it to the base camp. A study made by the ATTA found out that “Risky adrenaline activities are favored 45% less than “experiencing a new culture” in the definition of adventure travel”. Thats means local food in a Khmer house in Siem Reap, for example.

Our Host Sareth.

Experiences are everywhere now, even Booking  and Tripadvisor are promoting now Things To do. But where to find those experiences? Tour companies rely on the expertise of their product managers and the DMC in the countries. Their dilemma is that customers want the classics like a local restaurant in Phnom Penh, plus safety, and then go off the beaten track and – as usual – don’t want to see other tourists. 

More than a food tour in Siem Reap

What we (and others) do is connect travelers directly with those experiences. We do it through food, other through home stay or activities. But we don’t follow old models like a food tour in Siem Reap. We try a new approach, giving the customer more choices. Our advantage is that we can handpick our hosts, look for quality rather than quantity and provide something special. As a traveler, you don’t (usually) have access to a local home. Unless your tour guide made a deal with neighbors or brings you to his home.

We go even further: No guide needed. Authentic means to deal with what you see and have. Every solo traveler will tell you the best thing was, that he was forced to be engaged with locals in different ways, because language wasn’t a tool. 

Although some of our hosts speak some English, the most fun comes when spoken language has to be replaced by body language. Then you connect, and then you have what we call an authentic local experience.

The Top 5 Cambodian dishes

Khmer food isn’t as well known as the Thai food is, but that doesn’t mean it is not as good as what the neighbors have to offer. Many European and American travelers like the Khmer food, because it is not so spicy and has always some sweetness. We asked around what the most popular Khmer foods are, and from what we got, made this list of Top 5 Cambodian dishes.

Beef Lok Lak

The most famous Cambodian dish is beef lol lak, and its on the menu at Dine With The Locals as well.
The most famous Cambodian dish is beef lol lak, and its on the menu at Dine With The Locals as well.

You will find this dish in nearly every restaurant, for tourists and Khmer likewise. It is not so popular in home cooking mainly because beef is expensive for the average household. Our host Srey Moch put it on the menu, because she learned from her mom how to cook the beef pieces properly and add the right sauce made from lemon, salt and pepper. Khmer Lok Lak is on the too when people as what to eat in Cambodia.

Fish Amok

Amok can be prepared with fish, beef or chicken, even tofu. It's the most tasty and unique Khmer food dish.
Amok can be prepared with fish, beef or chicken, even tofu. It’s the most tasty and unique Khmer food dish.

The most tasty and unique Khmer food is probably the Fish Amok. It can be done with beef, chicken, pork or tofu as well. It has coconut milk in it, but most importantly the leaves or a tree that is not found everywhere in Cambodia. Our host Smey not only makes a delicious Fish Amok, she also shows you where to get the ingredients from.

Samlor Kor Ko

Samlor Kor ko can be made with chicken, beef, fish or pork. The secret is the roasted rice.
Samlor Kor ko can be made with chicken, beef, fish or pork. The secret is the roasted rice.

Samlor means soup in Khmer, and those soups can have verious ingredients. Some actually look more like a curry (Samlor Ktis) while others are more a clear soup. Kor Ko is between, and it is cooked with vegetables, fish, chicken or beef and powder from roasted rice. You need also a paste made of herbs and spices, called Kreung, for it. Our hosts Mom and Sam knows well ho to cook it, because they learned from their mothers and grandmothers. It is eaten with rice on the side.

Fried chicken with lemongrass

Fried Chicken with lemongras is a famous dish in Cambodia and available at the hosts of Dine With The Locals
Fried Chicken with lemongras is a famous dish in Cambodia and available at the hosts of Dine With The Locals

You would usually find lemongrass in curries and soups, but it’s also a great herb to be used for frying. Chicken is marinated in spices and then fried together with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. While it is commonly made with chicken, variations can be made with pork or fish, as well as tofu. At Dine With The Locals it is on the menu of our host Vannarith, a mother of two girls who stays with her husband in a house in the forest surrounding Angkor Wat.

Fried fish with soybeans and ginger

Chicken with ginger and soy beans is popular and considered a healthy dish. Our Host Nue Thai will prepare it for guests at Dine With The Locals.
Chicken with ginger and soy beans is popular and considered a healthy dish. Our Host Nue Thai will prepare it for guests at Dine With The Locals.

There is never a thing like a pure food from one country. Like fish amok is influenced by Thai and Indian cuisine, the fried fish with soy bean and ginger is more influenced by the Chinese way of cooking. It is considered a healthy dish and can be made with chicken or tofu as well. Our hosts Nue Thai loves to cook it for her family as well as for guests.

If you are looking for a local food experience in Siem Reap off the beaten track, have a look at our selection of hosts. You will have an unforgettable time with Khmer families, exclusive and for a reasonable price.

Big thank to those businesses

We are now starting to distribute flyers, in Siem Reap and in Phnom Penh. To do this we are thankful for those shops, restaurants, bars and institutions who allow us to promote DINE WITH THE LOCALS. Please pay a visit to those places when in town. More coming soon.

Our flyers on display in Phnom Penh


If you want to support us with displaying flyers, please send an email or contact us on FB messenger.

SIEM REAP

La Bruschetta

BioLab

Noir De La Paix

Miss Wong

Cyclo Hotel

PHNOM PENH

Toul Sleng Genocide Museum

The Coffee Store

Our journey so far

Dine With The Locals was founded by Cambodian Sorida Nhim and German Thomas Wanhoff in 2018. It is based in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We both came together for the first time in November. Thomas had the idea for a platform for a while, but was looking for a local co-founder. He also wanted a woman for this position, because part of Dine With The Locals is supporting women, and that should always start at the top.

Thomas (right) and Sorida (left) with our host Mom and her daughter.
Thomas (right) and Sorida (left) with our host Mom and her daughter.

Shortly after, the idea for Dine With The Locals was born: A platform, where locals can promote meals and experiences and where travelers can connect with locals for a real authentic experience.

We started talking with families in Siem Reap about the food project and got positive feedback: Many woman stay at home and take care of children and house, but would also like to have opportunities to get some additional income. We also talked with tour operators and tourists about our idea, and many told us, that the were looking for exactly this kind of authentic experience.

Thanks to a great developer Team (shoutout to Sinal and Bun Huot!) we were able to move our WordPress site to a modern platform with a better backend. By end of December 2018 we had 7 hosts in Siem Reap and were in talks with hosts in Banteay Meanchey and Battambang. The new version of the website was launched on 30.12.2018.

January 2019 will be a busy month for us: we will register as a company and start offline promotions, in particular flyer, to attract customers. We will also expand our social media activities on Instagram and Facebook