Our travels have always been marked by local food. Local brew, Local coffee and Local food are the typical things we try at any new place. Add to that a pasta somewhere which I like a lot and that always makes for a perfect Instagram moment. But this streak took a break in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
In 2016, when we visited the UNESCO world heritage site of Angkor Wat, every online portal & reviews talked about strolling at the famous Pub Street in the city centre. The boutique hotel we stayed at also guided us to pub street for food and drinks.
The buzzing street is full of restaurants and pubs and amongst the most prominent signs of Angkor Beer or Tiger beer, Free Wifi and Angkor wat tours are details of what they serve – Crocodile Tongue or Cambodian BBQ which comprises of snakes, frogs and crocodiles. A little further down the road, the carts on the road were selling fried animals, in their original form, rodents, snakes, dry fish and frogs.
TW (The Wife) is a proud carnivore & thus the challenge was to find chicken/mutton, non-sea food option for me. What looked like a challenge just for me, soon became a challenge for us as restaurant after restaurant and stall after stall had things on offer which we did not dare to try.
Opening up the Tripadvisor app on the phone, we did the unthinkable. We searched for Indian restaurant. We had crisscrossed the central area during the day and had noticed quite a few Indian restaurants. Tripadvisor promptly guided us to a higher starred nearby Indian restaurant – Maharaja.
A medium sized store had about 8-10 tables and the menu at the entrance. A friendly potbellied Indian gentleman (Could be from either India, Pakistan or Bangladesh) guided us in and we were happy to see hearty Punjabi dishes on the menu. $4 for Thali comprising Aalo Masala, Mix Veg Curry, Daal, Naan, Salad and Rice. Other options in Thali ranged till $6 and comprised of Korma or Paneer, while the A la Carte menu had dishes starting $3. The not so soft Naan and sticky rice seemed god sent at that moment. I am not a curry eater, but I licked clean the plate this particular day!
As we were about to end our meal, we saw a lot of locals coming in and ordering food and a few of those looking at us and pointing the Thali on our table to the waiters! What a strange world!
I casually asked the owner if he knows Hindi and there he started in Hindi, discussing the business, how many Indians have started coming to Angkor Wat and how the Indian restaurant business is thriving and ended with him gifting us a $5 local guide.
The next evening, we skirted away from Pub Street to head to a place to try Local beer with some nachos & pizza !