After a morning visit to Angkor Wat we decided to drop into the Peace Cafe for a relaxing lunch. This place is one of the few vegetarian restaurants in Siem Reap and their goal is to raise awareness about the benefits of a vegetarian diet. They also offer cooking lessons and yoga classes in a peaceful garden environment.
Everything here is prepared fresh to order with locally sourced food that is organic whenever possible. All the food is vegetarian and the menu clearly explains the items that are not suitable for vegans. They also have a pretty extensive selection of fresh juices and fruit shakes.
I started with their Green Goddess Juice, which is a combination of cucumber, cabbage, apple and ginger. Cabbage isn’t usually my favorite juice addition but I was craving green juice and it was the only one on the menu.
Then we shared some vegan California rolls made with organic brown rice, nori, sesame seeds, avocado, eggplant, roasted pepper, carrot, lettuce, cucumber and wasabi.
I loved the homemade pickled ginger accompaniment, which is so much better than the commercially produced one you generally find in sushi restaurants. I would have liked them more if they had been more generous with the avocado because for me that is the best thing about California rolls. Nonetheless they tasted pretty healthy and satisfying.
Then I went for the Gado Gado – an Indonesian salad containing cabbage, Asian greens, mung bean sprouts, green beans, tofu and potato with peanut sauce.
When we lived in Bali for three years Gado Gado was one of my favorite things to eat there. Unfortunately, while the ingredients were fresh and it was prepared well, I found the peanut sauce lacking in personality. It was very thin and didn’t offer the sweet/salty/spicy assertive flavors of the traditional Indonesian version.
Lujan had the Vegetarian Amok, which is one of the most popular dishes in Cambodia. Usually it is prepared with fish and sometimes chicken. This version had tofu and vegetables and was served with organic brown rice.
Amok is a coconut based mild yellow curry that contains an usual ingredient – noni leaves – from the same tree the provides noni fruit. I had no idea they were edible until we came to Cambodia. They have a mild but distinctive flavor and in traditional medicine are said to invigorate the blood and strengthen bones.
Overall the Peace Cafe is a relaxing place to be and our meal was pleasant. However, while the food was very fresh and healthy, in general we found everything needed more seasoning and flavor balance.
If they could tweak their recipes a little so that the taste comes up to the same level as the quality of ingredients this could transform the experience from good to fantastic. Still, it is a good place to go if you want to eat a healthy organic vegetarian meal when you are visiting Siem Reap.