The Cambodian Edition Part One: Bugs Cafe
The Internet has made the world accessible, and I have fallen into the habit of Google-ing places I’m planning on visiting- just so I know what to expect. Sure, the element of surprise gets taken away, but there have been many times I was spared bad meals or lousy drinks because I bothered to check.
So when I first started doing my research on places to go in Cambodia, I kept seeing “Bugs Café” on every recommended list, and seeing as how my boss was dead set on snacking on tarantulas, I figured why not?
There was absolutely nothing that could have prepared me for this place.
We were already slightly tipsy upon arriving, so I had to blink twice. I was expecting (as one would in a place like Siem Reap, I suppose) a family-styled café, with mom stir-frying ants in a cast-iron wok over a huge fire and dad rooting around in the backyard for more tasty treats to serve up.
I was dead wrong.
With its exposed brick walls, sleek wood and metal furniture and exposed light bulbs, Bugs Café would not have looked out of place in hipster Tiong Bahru. Opened and run by Davy Blouzard, the French national works with Khmer chef Seiha Souen (previously from Sofitel) to create and deliver a fun menu that makes the concept of eating insects a little less intimidating.
We’re not talking just larvae, or fire ants or teeny spiders. Think spindly scorpions, water bugs the size of your thumb and tarantulas as big as a fist. It is a mark of the duo’s creativity and knowledge of food that the place was really busy, with diners tucking into ant salads and insect kebabs with gusto.
Like any self-respecting café/bar you would find in Singapore, Bugs Café’s cocktail menu was created with their food in mind; drinks designed to compliment the unique flavours of their all-insect menu (yes, there was nothing “normal” available).
The Discovery Platter
Along with our Discovery Platter, we sampled cocktails in a league I would never have expected from Siem Reap. As someone who’s had the privilege to try concoctions made by some of Singapore’s best bartenders, it’s safe to say I’m a little spoilt when it comes to my alcohol. Bartender Tiara Reth however, did not disappoint.
The Honey Bee (USD$4) came first; a rum-based creation featuring sweet honey and balanced with the astringent flavours of lemongrass and tangy lime juice.
My personal favourite was the perfect-for-Cambodian-weather Spicy Cucumber Cocktail (USD$4). Using versatile vodka as its base, it allowed for the milder flavours of cucumber to really shine through, with the added ginger and red chillis only kicking in at the end.
Also worth a mention was the Passionata (USD$4), a marriage of refreshing mint, passion fruit, vodka and soda water. The drink might be simple, but everything was so fresh that the cocktail was elevated in a way that didn't require complicated techiques or fancy ingredients to impress.
Bugs Café sets out to redefine your dining experience by introducing flavor profiles you wouldn’t normally experience, and they’ve proven that with enough passion and spirit, fried crickets dipped in pesto can actually make for a delicious meal.
Bugs Café is located at 351 Bugs Street, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
For enquiries, email them at email@example.com, or call them (+855) 17764560