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A tasty slice: Sovan Ly is a French-trained pastry chef.
A tasty slice: Sovan Ly is a French-trained pastry chef. Nicky Sullivan

A new cafe worth the trek

It’s a smart, Bangkok-style coffee shop with a strong line in healthy cakes and even stronger espresso. But you’ll be forgiven if you haven’t made it there yet. It’s a little bit out of town.

Attached to the City Angkor Hotel, just two kilometres up from the junction with Sivatha Boulevard, Red Buff Coffee House is a sophisticated new addition to the Siem Reap roster of coffee and cake shops, one at which you can definitely have that second slice guilt-free. 

The creation of Khmer-French pastry chef Sovan Ly, the coffee shop is a bright, airy space with a genuine urban feel, matching polished concrete floors with dried flowers, and traditional floor tiles with modernistic, wooden gantries, and all done in such a gentle, understated way that you simply glide in and settle into your padded chocolate-brown chair with ease. 

Ly, 25, is aiming to create something a little different from just a coffee and cake shop though. Having trained at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu hospitality school, Ly then spent two years working with Nicolas Bernardé, the 2004 winner of the coveted title “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” (best craftsman in France – a unique and punishing competition awarded across a range of trades).

“I’m using local ingredients, but applying French pastry techniques,” said Ly. “The idea is to create something that’s not too sweet, but with lots of flavour. Things that are too sweet just taste of sugar, and the real flavours are hidden.”

And the proof is in the pudding. Post Weekend found the waffles to be beautifully light and fluffy, and a perfect foil for the slight bite of the caramel. The chocolate cake was dense, moist and decidedly moreish, even to a consumer who normally loathes sponge. 

The menu isn’t long, with a selection of breakfasts, Asian snacks cakes, sandwiches and quiches. But Ly is planning on expanding that soon, with more waffles, ice cream and, of course, more cakes. 

“Some will be one-off,” he said. “It depends on what I’m feeling inspired to create, and also on what I find in the markets.” 

Red Buff Coffee House is open from 6:30am to 9:30pm.

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