Over the years Siem Reap has had a Funky Buddha, a Buddha Lounge and now it can boast the very first McBuddha too.
Located on the road to Artisans d’Angkor, just across from Terrasse des Elephants, the restaurant, which has been open over one year, has seen a surge in popularity of late with Reaper residents harking its praises.
Owner Whisna credits an increased online presence for the new-found interest in his place, while anyone who’s dined at the streetside venue will say it’s down to the eats.
It might look like any other, plastic-chaired, $2.50-a-plate joint, but McBuddha is something altogether more special.
Served up with presentation usually more associated with fine cuisine (and not the sort of dinners Ronald McDonald doles out), McBuddha’s grub is also of a five star standard.
With chef Savuth having trained at SalaBai,Whisna says he saw no need to serve up the same food as his neighbouring restaurants, “Because we cook mostly for westerners, we wanted to have a different style.”
Taking advantage of his chef’s mean kitchen skills, Whisna’s menu includes fresh takes on Khmer classics, with tofu loc lak a favourite among diners, one of whom spoke of her delight to finally get a chance to try the national dish in a veggie-friendly form.
Despite the higher standard of food and service McBuddha still keeps its eats cheap, something Whisna says is crucial to stay competitive.
Another draw for the western crowd is what goes on behind the bar, where McBuddha’s resident cocktail mixer, Sarath, concocts a variety of cheap, yet potent bevvies.
For $2, the Mc Special will get you on your way with vodka, triple sec, midori, orange juice and lemon…now if only they sold those in Mackey D’s.
Regular food offers, and a buy-one-get-one-free happy hour from 5-10.30pm daily all makes for some bargain dining.
As for the name, Whisna says the idea for it came from a close German friend of his. While its Pub Street namesakes, Funky Buddha and Buddha Lounge have long-since closed their doors – and courted controversy for their names in the meantime - it seems it may be a case of third time’s a charm for Whisna.
Some on the Temple Town Facebook page did comment, however, that pairing the word Buddha with an ode to a fast food chain which side-lines as a poster child for globalisation was less than appropriate for a Buddhist country. But Whisna doesn’t agree. “This name is good luck,” he concludes.
As Reapers all scramble to find restaurants that rival their old ill-fated street-food favourites, McBuddha is a definite contender; the food isn’t just cheap, it’s tasty too, service comes with a smile and drinks come well-made. If you’re willing to look past the red plastic, the roadside location (and the hankering for a Big Mac), you might just find yourself saying OMB.