Travel Report: Krousar Cafe, Siem Reap.
Krousar Cafe, Siem Reap. April 2020.
Sladja and I were on our way to Kulen National Park one humid Siem Reap morning when I suddenly had a brainwave. “Shall we grab a couple of flat whites from Krousar?” Needless to say, her answer was a resounding “yes”.
Siem Reap is a city with a thriving cafe-restaurant scene. In fact, over the last three months, we’ve visited as many of SR’s eateries as possible. Thus the idea was born to publish an exhaustive overview of Siem Reap’s plentiful food and drink options. But then Coronavirus struck and virtually three quarters of the places we’d been to closed their doors! Some are on a break, others might well be closed for good. Luckily, one of our favourite joints, Krousar Cafe, is still soldiering on!
Krousar Cafe, Siem Reap.
“Two flat whites coming right up!” chirped Jason, Krousar’s hardworking Australian co-founder. Hailing from the city of Perth, he fell in love with Cambodia during his first visit back in 2013. At that time he worked for an NGO that built toilets and wells for poor families.
Later, having relocated to Siem Reap permanently, Jason started his own NGO, a drop-in space called A Place To Be Yourself (APTBY). Finally, the idea of Krousar Cafe was born and it opened in July 2019. Launched in partnership with his mother Marj and partner Tola, their motto is “We are family!” Because they are quite literally a family, and due to the fact that they wanted their cafe to feel as welcoming and cosy as possible.
“Mum’s passion is in the kitchen, Tola’s is behind the coffee machine, and mine is in people”.
At Krousar Cafe it’s all about home-cooked food of the highest quality. Sladja and I certainly felt that during our first visit here back in February. From their squidgy, cheese and tomato toasties and fluffy chocolate muffins, to the creamy coffee and ice-cold fruit juices, we instantly knew we’d found somewhere special.
Krousar Cafe, Siem Reap.
So much of what is great about Krousar is in the little details. Like the way Tola always throws a “bong” onto the end of his sentences. This Khmer word is an affectionate term that translates roughly as older brother or sister. Elsewhere, the wifi is always strong for people who come to work, Marj often stops by our table to ask how we’re doing and I love their gorgeous collection of cups, mugs and saucers.
“We probably spent about 3 years collecting cups and saucers each week from a local second-hand shop. They just piled up in our small room while we saved money”.
For a while Sladja and I treated Krousar purely as a breakfast joint. Once we’d worked our way through the various toastie fillings, I decided to take a punt on their $4 cooked breakfast. I was not disappointed.
One afternoon we figured on bucking the trend and came to Krousar for dinner. “Oh my god, cottage pie!” I cried, and wasted no time in ordering it. Jason actually added this to the menu after a customer suggested it. Of course it proved popular.
“If someone has a craving for something that is not on our menu, or they want to adapt from our menu, we always try and accommodate”.
Every day Tola takes a trip to the local markets for fruit and veg, while meat is sourced from reputable local companies. They also offer vegetarian alternatives, such as an inventive pumpkin and eggplant lasagne. And yes, Krousar is also vegan, paleo and keto-friendly. I wish we could say we’ve tried everything on the menu, but alas we seem to keep ordering the Cottage Pie.
One evening, deep into a week of self isolation at our apartment, we even took advantage of Krousar’s delivery service for a sudden craving while watching a movie. It was after 21:30 in the evening and, typically, it was the tireless Jason himself who came to deliver it! Not pictured, but equally enjoyed, was a heavenly slice of Lemon Cheesecake for good measure!
In these turbulent times of closed doors, social distancing and increased anxiety, it’s wonderful to see a place like Krousar battling on. Moreover, they really deserve it as people who are clearly in this business for all the right reasons.
“We believe that family is not just blood and that everyone needs a little love, warmth and support in their lives. If at the very least that is what we provide to customers, then we feel like it’s a job well done”.
So if like me, you’re stuck in Siem Reap and you need a bit of comfort in your life, why not order that cottage pie for wherever it is you’re hiding out.
Feeling claustrophobic? Come and visit the cafe! The waitress that serves us always wears a mask and they have an open-air courtyard where you can keep yourself to yourself.
“You want sugars with these?” asked Jason, with an arched eyebrow. “One in each please” I replied, as behind me someone ordered an Eggs Benedict with homemade hash browns. “Cheers, have a good day!” And then I was out the door, into the van and speeding off towards a much needed escape at Kulen National Park.
Like this? For more on Siem Reap’s excellent cafe, restaurant and bar scene, check out my detailed guide on Where to Eat and Drink Siem Reap.
You can also read my exhaustive overview of What to See and Do in Siem Reap.
Looking for a roof over your head? Check out my articles on Where to Stay in Siem Reap.
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