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Man About Town: 15 June 2012

Man About Town: 15 June 2012


Once upon a time there was the original Angkor Night Market, one of Siem Reap town’s major tourist attractions. But now the original Night Market is surrounded by other night markets which go by names such as Moon Market etc.

The business motto in Siem Reap seems to be if someone is onto a good thing, copy it ad finitum. Hence the bewildering profusion of night markets spreading right through town, into the Pub Street precinct, across the river and even on the road to the airport.

But the original Angkor Night Market prevails and is still the main tourist draw card.

Many of its stalls are like the stalls at other markets: same, same with nothing bloody well different.

But tucked away at the Night Market’s same same stalls are some gems: original stalls with original products whether it be artwork, craft or nifty tourist knick-knacks.

Plus the Night Market has the edge in facilities with such things as toilets and not one but two bars, including the very funky Island Bar, scene of many exotic cocktail happenings.

And on Saturday night, the Night Market launched the grand opening of its Food Court, which means people don’t really need to leave the market: they can shop there, drink there and now eat there. Perhaps an on-site guesthouse can be added so that punters can even sleep there.

The Food Court features eight stalls serving different kinds of cuisines, including Khmer, Spanish, Thai, Japanese, and of course the ubiquitous western-Khmer mix.

One of the refreshing different food stalls at the new food court is Enjoy Spain, which, as the name suggests, specialises in Spanish cuisine. In fact it’s about as Spanish as you can get because the owners, Ruben Alvarez and his long-term partner Mapi arrived in Temple Town to live two months ago from Malaga, in Andalusian Spain, the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and actor Antonio Banderas.

The couple’s move to Siem Reap was a compulsive act after a visit to town in January when, as the saying goes, they fell in love with Siem Reap and now they hope people fall in love with their cuisine.

Ruben said they come here because, “We like the culture, the quietness and the friendliness. And we love Cambodian people.”

The two Spaniards have never operated a restaurant before so it’s a brave new start. But Ruben said they opted for the Angkor Night Markets new food court as a venue for their business because it’s a magnet for visitors and because of its overall funky feel.

Like other food stalls, meals at Enjoy Spain are in the $2-3 range. And yes, paella is a signature dish.


Word is that British Embassy is soon to announce a new British honorary consul in Siem Reap, replacing the incumbent Sasha Constable or, as she is known on her official UK government email address, Alexandra Constable.

It was presumed an announcement would be made by the Brit Ambassador to Cambodia, Mark Gooding, when he visited the Reap last weekend.

But such an announcement was not forthcoming. Stay tuned.


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