20 May Good Cause Dining in Cambodia
One of the hardest things about visiting Cambodia is witnessing the extreme levels of poverty that abound; from kids selling postcards at Angkor Wat to land-mine victims begging on the city streets. One of the best ways to help people in Cambodia is by eating in Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) restaurants which support and employ vulnerable groups of people throughout the country. Good Cause Dining is an all round win-win, your money and custom go to those who need it and you get a tasty meal in the process.
Top Five Good Cause Dining Experiences in Cambodia
Here are the best Good Cause restaurants we visited during our trip to Cambodia; we’d highly recommend them all! Click on the restaurant names to go to their websites.
Sok San Street, Siem Reap
Haven provides free one-year training courses for vulnerable young people from orphanages, shelters and poor rural areas. The social enterprise offers its students life skills workshops, training in the restaurant trade, shared housing, meals, medical care, training allowances and English and computer lessons. At the end of the course the organisation helps students find permanent jobs with their new-found skills so they have a secure future.
Haven was our favourite restaurant in Cambodia and we had two delicious meals there while we were in Siem Reap. Haven is incredibly popular and also pretty small, so you need to book in advance. Meals are also a bit pricier by Asian standards but trust me; you won’t regret spending a bit extra on a meal at Haven.
Sister Srey Café
200 Pokambor Street, Riverside – old market area, Siem Reap
Run by a pair of Australian sisters, this café employs young Cambodians, offering them training and flexible work hours so they can study and earn money to support their families at the same time. The word ‘Srey’ means ‘sister’ in Khmer, which points not only to the siblings who run the restaurant but to the Cambodian tradition of greeting everyone as either sisters, brothers, aunties or uncles – whether they know them or not.
We became addicted to this café during our week in Siem Reap, visiting time and time again for the cheese and onion toasties, potato wedges and delicious milkshakes – perfect after long hours of temple hopping!
Friends the Restaurant
House 215, Street 13, Phnom Penh
Friends is part of the TREE global alliance of training restaurants which invests its profits in training former street kids and underprivileged young people to work in the restaurant trade. Friends also supports the local community by providing food, shelter, education and medical care for over 1,800 vulnerable and homeless street kids in Cambodia every day.
Friends has been going for over 10 years and is incredibly popular; the place was completely booked up the first time we visited so we came back early the next day. We were served delicious tapas by some of the student waiters and couldn’t get enough of the food; at around £9 it made for a pretty pricey meal by Asian standards but it was worth every penny.
Epic Arts Café
67 Oosaupia Muoy, Sovann Sakor, Kompong Kanda, Kampot
The Epic Arts Café provides job opportunities for ten local deaf and disabled people and raises money for Epic Arts’ programmes. Established in 2006, the non-profit organisation now provides rehab, education and skills training for over 500 disabled people in Kampot. The café even holds free sign-language classes upstairs every Friday afternoon.
We visited the Epic Arts Café a couple of times for breakfast and we had some delicious muesli, fruit and yoghurt. The café is right in the centre of town and is a great, comfortable place to hang out.
Street no.3, one block south of Psa Nath Market, Battambang
Gecko hires and trains young Cambodian women from disadvantaged backgrounds. As soon as we arrived at the café we were greeted by a handful of smiling waitresses in red t-shirts enthusiastically calling out: “Hello, Good Evening!” The veggie burgers were pretty average but the service was amazing; we were given a free apple martini on arrival and the waitresses were all so polite, friendly and seemed to really enjoy their jobs. We left with a loud chorus of “Thank You, Goodnight!” ringing in our ears.
Have we missed any great Good Cause Dining experiences in Cambodia?
MichelePosted at 16:44h, 20 May
We also enjoyed the Dining in the Dark restaurant in Phnom Penh where they train and employ people who are blind. It is also a very interesting experience for the diner
AmyPosted at 03:20h, 21 May
That sounds pretty cool Michele, we hadn’t heard about Dining in the Dark but if we return to Phnom Penh we’ll give it a try!
KatiePosted at 18:38h, 20 May
Maybe I’m completely oblivious, but I had no idea there were so many restaurants that support NGOs. What a fabulous concept, I mean, you gotta eat! Might as well contribute to a good cause while you’re at it. Did you seek them out? Also, the dishes at Epic Arts Café are so adorable!
AmyPosted at 03:21h, 21 May
Exactly Katie, it’s a really nice idea. We found most of these restaurants on Trip Advisor but there are so many around you’d likely stumble across one at some point while travelling in Cambodia.
PattiPosted at 05:34h, 21 May
” One of the best ways to help people in Cambodia is by eating in Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) restaurants which support and employ vulnerable groups of people throughout the country.”
This is such an interesting concept – what a supportive way to help the community. And the food looks so yummy! This is such a fun part of the travel experience, to find such treasures!
AmyPosted at 13:09h, 21 May
We loved discovering these restaurants Patti; we ate very well while we were in Cambodia!
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)Posted at 19:20h, 25 May
Haven was an incredible dining experience & we really enjoyed the food at Friends as well… but our favorite restaurant in Cambodia was definitely Epic Arts! LOVE their eggplant springrolls with couscous and the BLT with caramelized tomato relish. SO GOOD. I still dream about those dishes, actually!
AmyPosted at 07:35h, 27 May
I wish we’d had time to have a proper meal at Epic, the dinner menu sounds awesome; unfortunately it was shut the first couple of times we tried it so we could only have breakfast there on our last day. I loved Haven too 🙂
MigPosted at 17:50h, 27 May
Thank for sharing this. These NGO restaurants are a great idea to support the community, provide training, and life skills. I would love to try these if there. Brilliant concept.
AmyPosted at 03:21h, 28 May
Hi Mig, we love the concept too and it was very popular in Cambodia; we are always on the look out for these restaurants when we travel.
www.holidayfans.comPosted at 12:02h, 17 June
yummy cambodian dishes! i got a cool idea of trying things in Cambodia on my current year’s trip :), thanks Amy
AndrewPosted at 11:28h, 18 June
Cambodia has so many things to offer, the food is just one amazing thing in its repertoire. 🙂