The Blue Pumpkin

The Blue Pumpkin is a pastry and ice cream store chain in Siem Reap, Cambodia. They serve freshly baked pastries, cookies, and breads, but people especially come to this place for its ice cream and sorbet. They serve sorbet with all kinds of unique flavors (many based on local fruits), and in a place like Siem Reap where it can get pretty hot outside, having something refreshing like some sorbet is definitely appealing to a visitors.

We found out about the Blue Pumpkin from the same British couple that suggested the Angkor Palm as a place for dinner. The Blue Pumpkin store location in the Old Market area of Siem Reap was right next door to the Angkor Palm. The British couple told us that they thought the Angkor Palm was a good place to eat, but regardless whether we eat there or not, they said save some room for dessert and don’t miss the Blue Pumpkin with its sorbet.

After finishing our dinner at the Angkor Palm, we were served some sorbet there to complete our New Year’s Eve special meal. We didn’t ask where the restaurant got their sorbet from, but we suspect it came from the store right next door from them. After we finished with our meal at the Angkor Palm, we went next door to the Blue Pumpkin, and we were quite amazed seeing the array of unique flavors that they had there — lots of local, tropical fruits that you wouldn’t find in a similar store in the US, like dragon fruit, passion fruit, jackfruit, durian, etc. I ended up getting the Khmer fruits sorbet, which was a combination flavor of several tropical fruits that actually worked quite well. The sorbet was quite light and refreshing; it didn’t feel too much even when having it after a dinner beforehand.

You can see on the photo below some of the flavors that they had at the Blue Pumpkin. It’s definitely a good place to go when you’re in Siem Reap, especially to cool down during or after a hot day sightseeing in the area.

Blue Pumpkin Flavors

Angkor Palm

Angkor Palm is a restaurant on Market Street in downtown Siem Reap, Cambodia, not far from the popular Pub Street. This restaurant server Khmer food. We ate at Angkor Palm per recommendation of a couple of travelers whom we met at our hotel. It was New Year’s Eve when we went to the restaurant, so they had a special deal that included several dishes, a cocktail drink, and dessert. The price for the combination was pretty reasonable (USD $15), so we decided to try it out.

The owner of the restaurant was very nice and welcoming to his guests, but it seemed that several of the wait staff didn’t have as good command of English, so there were times that he had to intervene to help the staff. They were all very polite and courteous, so for us that was not a problem.

When we ordered, there was a miscommunication and we ended up with one set of the combination meal (but with individual cocktails) instead of our intended order of two sets. The one set of dishes was big enough for us to share, so it ended up working out well. But I could see such miscommunication causing problems for other guests.

The food was really good, even though some of the dish names on the menu were a bit strange or misspelled (eggplant caviar (?), calamary, stir-fried mixte vegetable). The ice cream dessert was excellent — I think it was supplied by an excellent ice-cream shop next door, The Blue Pumpkin.

You can see in the photo below the New Year’s Eve special dish that we ordered. Onesampler dish was plenty for both of us. The sampler included: cocktail drink (we had mojitos), Khmer spinach crab soup, mango salad, eggplant ‘caviar’, calamari, amok fish, satay scallops, stir-fried mixed vegetables, steamed jasmine rice, and ice cream.

New Year's Eve sampler

Pub Street

Pub Street is a street in downtown Siem Reap, Cambodia, that is well-known among the foreign tourists as a place to visit in Siem Reap. It is located only a few blocks away from the Old Market (Psar Chaa). From its name, you can guess that on this street you can easily find places to eat, drink, and socialize. It reminded me to the area near Sisowath Quay in Phnom Penh or Khao San Road in Bangkok. While you can see activities during the day, the place is even more crowded at night as the foreign visitors who go to the temples of Angkor Archaeological Park during the day come here to have dinner, shop, and relax. The area is popular as a late night destination as well with its clubs and other establishments that open late.

We went to the Pub Street area on our second night in Siem Reap. Initially we thought we might eat at one of the restaurants there as many of them were mentioned in the guidebooks. However, while we were waiting for our hotel shuttle to take us to downtown, we met a British couple who was staying at the same hotel and had been in Siem Reap for several days, and they recommended a restaurant on the Market Street to try out (close to the Pub Street, but not exactly one of the more well-known Pub Street restaurants). We wanted to have dinner at a Cambodian restaurant serving Khmer dishes, not at one serving Western foods. Apparently the restaurants on Pub Street are more catered to the western audience, so while it might be a good place to find dishes like pizza or steak, you might be better off going elsewhere for more authentic Khmer dishes.

We did walk through the street on the way to the restaurant where we had dinner. Pub Street is not that long to cover in a few minutes of walking, and when we went through there it was still early in the evening that the places had only started getting visitors, and in comparison it was not quite as crowded as Khao San Road in Bangkok when we visited few days before. But later on in the night it did get more crowded, especially as the pubs and restaurants on the street were getting ready to welcome the New Year at midnight that night.

The photo below as taken as walked through the street. This is the Red Piano Restaurant, one of the well-known restaurants on Pub Street that is popular among the tourists. It’s known as the favorite place of Angelina Jolie and her crew to hang out when they were in Siem Reap filming the movie Tomb Raider. Many people said the food there was mediocre quality, but it’s a great place to people watch given its strategic location.

Red Piano

Psar Chaa

Psar Chaa or the Old Market is a market in downtown Siem Reap, Cambodia. The market is quite popular with the tourists in Siem Reap as it is a traditional Southeast Asian market closest to the touristy area where you can experience going to a market just like the locals do. For foreigners who have never been to such marketplace, it could be quite an interesting experience and perhaps even shocking to the senses, as you would see, hear, smell, and if you like, taste things from the market that is quite different from the more sanitized/sterile environment found in modern supermarkets/grocery stores. At Psar Chaa you can also find souvenirs, and the experience of shopping for those and haggling for good price in itself is an interesting activity to do for some tourists.

Kristi and I had been to similar markets in Indonesia, so this was not necessarily in our plan to do, especially since we already found our souvenirs from Cambodia early on during the day. After our full day of sightseeing at the Angkor Archaeological Park, we had the evening free. It was also New Year’s Eve, so we thought we should at least explore the downtown area of Siem Reap for dinner and to see if there were any activities planned out to welcome the New Year. Our hotel, The Kool Hotel, was located about 15-minute drive from downtown, but they had a shuttle van going down there periodically until around 10 pm. We thought we would take the shuttle on the way there, and depending on the time we’re ready to head back to the hotel, we would either take the shuttle back if it’s still available or take a tuk-tuk.

The hotel shuttle drop point was near Psar Chaa, and to go to the main street where the restaurants are located, we would have to walk pass the street where Psar Chaa was located. It was already around 7:30 pm by then, and most of the market stalls were already closed, but there were still some stores that were open and we could get a glimpse of what could be found there.

The photo below was taken as we walked through the street near Psar Chaa. We saw this store that had sausage links and dried seafood hanging. It looked like this lady was looking at the store’s display, though I doubt she would get something from here to take home as souvenir.

Sausage links and dried seafood