One of the things you notice when you spend time in South East Asia is how people show respect each other by referring to friends, colleagues and strangers as though they were family members. I got the hang of calling my seniors “Auntie” or “Uncle” pretty quickly in Singapore and in turn, went by the name of “sister” to my colleagues and on several occasions, to my absolute horror, I was even referred to as Auntie! In turn, Filipino members of my team addressed each other as “Ate” and “Kuyah” and in Thailand I faced the veritable minefield of whether to address someone as say Khun Porntip or P’Parn.
Why am I telling you all this you may ask? Well I spent much of the weekend at a little café called Sister Srey – here in Cambodia, the Khmer term for sister is “Srey” (with “Bong” or “Ohn” often used in place of older/younger brother sister as well) which bought this all to mind. Sister Srey is owned, funnily enough, by two young Aussie sisters who have used the café as an opportunity to invest in the future of Siem Reaps students by giving them jobs – on flexible rosters, with English lessons for them and their children – in their bustling little riverside café.
Open from 7am to 630pm, they serve a delicious selection of healthy juices – I loved my “Detox” juice of apple, carrot and ginger – locally grown coffee, and a great menu of all day breakfast and brunch items from pancakes & eggs benedict – known as eggs bene-licious here – to build your own sandwiches and more substantial dishes like grilled mackerel fillet or Kampot pepper steak sandwiches.
We were ummm, not at our brightest when we visited for brunch but still managed to sample everything from the more traditional breakfast items like the Bacon & Egg Roll – a generous looking chunk of ciabatta filled with crisp bacon, two eggs sunnyside up, spinach and a choice of HP sauce or Ketchup – to the Aussie influenced Sweetcorn Fritters with spinach, feta, poached egg and homemade tomato chutney and the Potato Hash, a crispy potato rosti with rashers of bacon, spinach and a poached egg. D was in the mood for something that was going to help settle her stomach and ended up choosing their huge Veggie Club Sandwich with hummus and grilled vegetables and we both customized our dishes with sides of ripe avocado whilst K went for a side of crumbly feta with his rosti.
The drinks menus, bought to the table as inserts for children’s books that we all had a little TOO much fun reading, are just as interesting as the food menu with plenty of juices, smoothies and milkshakes listed alongside more unusual drinks like “Spiders” where they top your choice of soft drink with a scoop of ice-cream. Most importantly of course, the coffee is very good indeed. Whilst you can order everything from the Aussie flat white to a macchiato it was the espresso with its great crema and slight fruitiness that most impressed and I really loved the quirky mismatching cups and saucers which somehow adds to the relaxed and friendly feel to the place.
I can’t tell you how happy I am to have found another café in Siem Reap that serves great coffee as well as delicious food, between here and the Hive (and The Little Red Fox for coffee, I haven’t managed to eat there yet) brunch in Siem Reap is pretty much sewn up!