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Travel Report: Krousar Cafe, Siem Reap.

Review of Krousar Cafe in 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”.

Tola attending to customers Krousar Cafe in Siem Reap

Krousar Cafe, Siem Reap.

Before the pandemic broke, Siem Reap was a city with a thriving cafe-restaurant scene. But then, of course, its bulging tourist population (and a good chunk of expats too) ran for the airport. In the months that followed, dozens of the food and drink spots we had come to know, like and sometimes love, began falling like dominoes. However, one that kept soldiering on was Krousar Cafe.

Krousar Cafe, Siem Reap.

Jason Argenta Krousar Cafe.

Jason whipping up a couple of flat whites.

“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.

APTBY A Place to Be Yourself in Siem Reap

A Place To Be Yourself (APTBY).

Later, having relocated to Siem Reap permanently, Jason started his own NGO, a drop-in resource centre for the LGBTIQ+ community called (APTBY) A Place To Be Yourself. 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”. 

We Are Family Krousar Cafe Siem Reap

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 2020. 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.

Lunch at Krousar Cafe Siem Reap.

A very Krousar breakfast!

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. “Good morning, what can I get you bong?”

What’s more, the WIFI is always strong for people who come to work. And Marj will often stop by the tables to ask customers how they’re doing. Oh, and I loved 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”.

Cups and mugs

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.

Fried breakfast at Krousar Cafe in Siem Reap

Bacon, baked beans, scrambled egg, butter and brown toast. Just $4.

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. Yes, it proved very 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 to accommodate”. 

Cottage Pie at Krousar Cafe Siem Reap

Front: Krousar Cafe’s wonderful Cottage Pie. Back: Fried Chicken & Rice with Green Mango Salad.

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 kept ordering the Cottage Pie.

Cottage pie and vegetables takeaway box

Cottage Pie takeaway from Krousar Cafe.

One evening, deep into a week of self isolation at our apartment, we took advantage of Krousar’s delivery service for a sudden cottage pie craving while watching a movie. It was after 21:30 in the evening and, typically, the tireless Jason himself came to deliver it. Not pictured, but equally enjoyed, was a heavenly slice of Lemon Cheesecake for good measure!

Fresh icy fruit juices Krousar Cafe

A Pineapple Shake & Carrot, Apple & Ginger Juice.

In those turbulent times of closed doors, social distancing and mushrooming anxiety, it was wonderful to see a place like Krousar battling on. Moreover, they really deserved it as people who are clearly in this business for all the right reasons.

Krousar Cafe Siem Reap.

Krousar Cafe, Siem Reap.

“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”.

Krousar Cafe food delivery service in Siem Reap

The Self Isolation Service, from Krousar Cafe.

Towards the end of our stay in July, Sladja and I celebrated our birthdays in Siem Reap. We wanted a grand cake to mark the occasion, and couldn’t think of anyone better than Marj to make it. She did a magnificent job, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Happy Birthday Leighton and Sladja

Our birthday cake, courtesy of Krousar Cafe.

“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 Leighton, 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.

Two flat whites coming right up at Krousar Cafe

Krousar Cafe, Siem Reap.

Update October 2022: I am delighted to see that Krousar Cafe is still going strong over two and a half years since we left Cambodia. Unfortunately, so many of the cafes and restaurants we’ve written about in this series have fallen because of the pandemic. Well done to Jason, Marj, Tola and the whole team for keeping their business afloat throughout those tough times.

Krousar Cafe, Siem Reap.

Home cooked lasagne

Marj working on her legendary lasagne.

Want to get in touch with Krousar Cafe? Drop them a line through their Facebook page. Alternatively, you can follow them on Instagram via their handles krousarcafe and  aptby_kh.

Leighton Travels travel reports short stories.

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.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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  • Anna

    Wish I had visited this one! Looks great, and a Perth lad to boot! One of my own! X

    October 30, 2022 - 12:35 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ah, a pity indeed as it’s such a solid all-rounder, especially for western comforts. Thanks for reading Anna.

      October 30, 2022 - 12:46 pm Reply
  • Stan

    i can feel the laid-back warmth of this place, no wonder you were regulars. lovely food and people and this reminded me of your excellent article on kulen pational park

    October 30, 2022 - 1:49 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Stan. You know that was really a great day, grabbing a pair of creamy flat whites en route to the park.

      October 30, 2022 - 1:53 pm Reply
  • Alison

    Great post Leighton, and from where I live too. Wonderful they are still open and how lovely mum and son live and work together

    October 30, 2022 - 4:18 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thank you Alison! Yes, the devastation of the pandemic on people’s livelihoods has reverberated all across the world, with barely any country able to escape it. Krousar Cafe is a wonderful tale of survival, no doubt greatly aided by the tight bond of its family team.

      October 30, 2022 - 5:07 pm Reply
      • Alison

        It’s nice you got to know them so well

        October 30, 2022 - 5:58 pm
  • Memo

    Fabulous! We changed back from daylight savings time today so this was a welcome way to return to normal. It went great with my morning coffee (black). Your food pictures always make me a little nostalgic as we don’t have easy access to the like here. Hard to believe April 2020 was so long ago. Cheers.

    October 30, 2022 - 4:54 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ah, good old daylight savings. Glad it’s working out for you, we had a few class schedule time adjustments to deal with, which hasn’t been all that helpful. April 2020 does seem like an age ago. So much has changed since then, we have since lived and travelled across six countries! Thanks for reading about Krousar Cafe!

      October 30, 2022 - 5:10 pm Reply
  • kagould17

    We always have time for a flat white and miss the coffee scene in Aus and NZ. They do coffee and food right these days. The menu and vibe of Krousar would keep me coming back for sure. If only more people could learn the we are all family lesson, instead of we are enemies, the world would be a far better place. The breakie with baked beans was one of our favourites Down Under and the rest of the menu looks hard to beat. Thanks for sharing Leighton. Happy Sunday. Allan

    October 30, 2022 - 5:07 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Allan, wherever I am in the world, Australian coffee rarely lets us down. I should actually try it in Australia one of the years. I’m with you on the breakfasts, we haven’t been able to source a good fry up so far in Georgia. But that might change when we transition to the capital next month. Thanks for checking out Krousar Cafe!

      October 30, 2022 - 5:13 pm Reply
  • Amélie

    The food looks amazing. Family-run cafes and restaurants are the best. The story of them collecting cups from the local second-hand shop is a lovely detail. I quite like the idea of mismatched cups and saucers in a cafe. Great find, Leighton!

    October 30, 2022 - 5:48 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hi Amelia. I’m so glad that you are following and enjoying this series. I feel like characterful coffee and tea cups make a big difference to our drinking experiences. These guys certainly have enough choice to cater to all tastes!

      October 30, 2022 - 5:54 pm Reply
  • Lyssy In The City

    What a wonderful cafe! I’m so glad that it’s still open and serving the community. It looks very welcoming and delicious.

    October 30, 2022 - 7:21 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading Lyssy. Happy Halloween! 🧛‍♂️

      October 31, 2022 - 6:31 pm Reply
  • Monkey's Tale

    You found so many great spots in Siem Reap! What is cottage pie?

    October 30, 2022 - 7:33 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Maggie. Cottage pie is a baked dish of minced beef and veggies (often peas, carrots and onions) topped with mashed potato. So a soft pie if you will. My nan used to make a killer cottage pie while I was growing up and I must say Krousar’s version is excellent.

      October 31, 2022 - 12:02 am Reply
      • Monkey's Tale

        Oh, my mom (and I think Canadians) call it Shepherd’s Pie.

        October 31, 2022 - 2:22 am
  • wetanddustyroads

    They can’t go wrong when toasties and fluffy chocolate muffins are served. Oh, and let’s not forget the cottage pie – yummy … maybe the reason why they’re still going strong 😉.
    I think I’m in need of a chocolate muffin now …

    October 30, 2022 - 8:02 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Me too Corna. And looking at the standard of chocolate muffin I’ve experienced so far here in Georgia, I’m left lamenting the fact that Krousar doesn’t do international deliveries 😉

      October 30, 2022 - 9:29 pm Reply
  • qprgary

    $4 For breakfast you just can’t go wrong with that.

    October 30, 2022 - 9:24 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Right? We had it so good back then. Thanks for checking out this piece on Krousar Cafe Gary.

      October 30, 2022 - 9:30 pm Reply
  • Little Miss Traveller

    What a lovely cafe and ooh that cottage pie looks very tasty indeed. Your joint birthday cake is very impressive too! My birthday falls in the Christmas holidays and it’s just as well I love Christmas cake as my husband just buys an extra Xmas Cake, pulls off the ‘Happy Christmas’ sign and replaces it with a few candles, job done!

    October 30, 2022 - 10:20 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha ha oh lord, how do you feel about that? Happy enough with Christmas/birthday cake? Or…? Thanks for reading about Krousar Cafe Marion. What I wouldn’t do for a big old wedge of Cottage Pie right now…

      October 30, 2022 - 11:26 pm Reply
  • Bahanur

    Looks lovely! I have plans to visit Cambodia next year and would like to visit Krousar Cafe in Siem Reap! 😊

    October 31, 2022 - 1:58 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed! Say hi to Jason and the team for me.

      October 31, 2022 - 8:53 am Reply
  • Mike and Kellye Hefner

    I don’t know about cottage pie. It looks like meat, potatoes and cheese, is it? Nevertheless, it looks very good, and so does everything else you showed pictures of, especially the beautiful birthday cake. I would like to know how they prepare those gorgeous (steamed?) vegetables. So glad to hear they are still in business because they seem dedicated to their craft and customers.

    October 31, 2022 - 3:17 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Kellye, yes I think the veggies were steamed, nice and buttery. You are on the money about Cottage Pie, a taste of my childhood in a dusty street of Cambodia. Who’d have thought? Thanks for reading about Krousar Cafe!

      October 31, 2022 - 9:00 am Reply
  • Rebecca

    It’s heart-warming to see places like Krousar Cafe hold up during these tough times…I’m not a huge coffee drinker, but a flat white does sound really good…a wonderful cafe with lots of heart and soul behind the workers who pour their lives into this establishment (pun intended). Definitely will need to check it out if I ever head to Cambodia someday!

    October 31, 2022 - 4:28 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Yes, heart and soul, that’s Krousar Cafe in a nutshell. Cheers Rebecca!

      October 31, 2022 - 9:05 am Reply
  • NattyTravels

    What a lovely little place I love nothing more than to seek out small family-run businesses. I always think the food tastes a lot better and is much more environmentally friendly. I’m so happy to hear they are still going strong. Their food looks delicious!

    October 31, 2022 - 1:07 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading about Krousar Cafe, Natty. I agree with you about family run businesses, for the most part. Hope you are doing well, Happy Halloween! 🎃

      October 31, 2022 - 6:21 pm Reply

    A place that makes you feel THAT welcome is worth its weight in gold.

    October 31, 2022 - 1:12 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Absolutely, thanks for taking a look at Krousar Cafe. I’m sure they’ll still be going strong when you eventually make it to Siem Reap.

      October 31, 2022 - 6:23 pm Reply
  • grandmisadventures

    I love places like this that have that inclusive welcoming spirit that treats everyone like they are part of the family. Is it weird that I feel quite envious of your amazing birthday cake- what a special treat to celebrate with 🙂

    October 31, 2022 - 5:51 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Meg, the birthday cake was a real treat to ourselves. Can’t believe we’ve had two birthdays since then. Time just keeps on rolling. Happy Halloween 👻

      October 31, 2022 - 6:27 pm Reply
  • Travels Through My Lens

    I love this heartwarming post, mom, son and partner all working together, even through the tough times. The food looks amazing! Great post.

    November 1, 2022 - 3:30 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for checking out the story of Krousar Cafe, Tricia!

      November 1, 2022 - 8:45 pm Reply
  • WanderingCanadians

    What a lovely backstory behind the Krousar Cafe. Just by looking at your pictures you can tell that it feels very welcoming. Home cooked food is always the best. I am salivating right now. Glad to hear that they weathered the pandemic and are still in business.

    November 1, 2022 - 3:33 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read about Krousar Cafe, I know how busy you guys have been! I think their reputation mushroomed during the pandemic. And that they’re probably one of very few places that actually came through the other side stronger.

      November 1, 2022 - 7:41 pm Reply
  • 100 Country Trek

    Such an amazing area where we visited. We really enjoyed the food there and loved visiting there .Anita

    November 2, 2022 - 5:19 am Reply
    • Leighton

      That’s great, Anita.

      November 2, 2022 - 9:02 am Reply
  • NortheastAllie

    Wow this café looks so good! It looks very high quality, and I am impressed with the cake that they made for you both as well!

    November 2, 2022 - 6:37 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for stopping by Allie, Krousar is a gem of a cafe for sure.

      November 2, 2022 - 9:05 am Reply
  • Nieves Sanz

    I’ll be sure to stop here for some coffee and bites. This cafe seems to have everything: great coffee and drinks menu, all-day meal options, desserts and heaps of charm. Thanks for sharing.

    November 5, 2022 - 3:48 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I’m so glad you’ll visit Krousar Cafe, Nieves. Say hi to them from me! 👋

      November 5, 2022 - 3:58 pm Reply

    Another brilliant article Leighton! Krousar looks like a much loved Siem reap institution.

    November 6, 2022 - 9:39 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I’m glad that came across, thanks for reading and commenting!

      November 6, 2022 - 10:05 pm Reply
  • rkrontheroad

    Glad to see this place is still going strong. Who would have thought there was such an expat community in Siem Reap?

    November 16, 2022 - 8:17 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Right? And they are very loyal to places deemed worthy of loyalty. Thanks for reading!

      November 16, 2022 - 8:41 pm Reply
  • Preeti Prajapati

    another excellent article Leighton! if I ever go to the Siem Reap I will be sure to visit Krousar Cafe.

    December 13, 2022 - 9:25 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Preeti, appreciate you catching up on this series!

      December 13, 2022 - 9:28 pm Reply

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