Eating for Good | Social Enterprise Restaurants and Cafes in Cambodia

  • Haven, Siem Reap
  • Jaan Bai, Battambang

When we arrived at Haven, my partner and I were greeted by welcoming staff and a cosy covered outdoor dining space in a pretty little garden. Haven is a social enterprise and a training restaurant in Siem Reap, set up for vulnerable young adults from orphanages and safe shelters, as well as underprivileged young adults from rural areas. The training restaurant teaches quality work and life skills, helping trainees to achieve a secure and independent future and giving them a chance to step out of the poverty cycle.

The menu offers a mix of Khmer dishes, fusion specials and some Western favourites, plus plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. We ordered the Khmer fish soup, the Khmer curry with chicken, and a green mango salad – all dishes were plated professionally and were incredibly tasty, especially the creamy rich curry. There is also a good and varied selection of wines; the Grüner Veltliner was great with the meal. We couldn’t leave without trying a dessert and the banana crumble with mango-passion sorbet was closer to a sponge cake in texture and very tasty. 
In addition to the work training and the life skills workshops, Haven also takes financial responsibility for their trainees, providing them with shared housing, meals, medical care and a monthly training allowance. Trainees are also offered English and IT lessons. An additional bonus for me is that Haven focus on sustainability and they have replaced single-use plastic and switched to 100% biodegradable take-away boxes, spoons and bags. They also use acrylic reusable straws, and donate used cooking oil to Naga Biofuels, an organisation that turns used oil into bio diesel, which Haven then buy back to run their generator. These are just a few of the brilliant initiatives they have in place.

Definitely pay Haven a visit when visiting Siem Reap and ensure your pennies go towards helping this wonderful enterprise to improve the lives of the young people it trains and supports. Brilliant hearty food, great friendly staff and a lovely environment, what more could you want.

Chocolate Rd, Wat Damnak area, Siem Reap, Cambodia

If you are in Battambang and fancy treating yourself to a delicious meal in a sophisticated restaurant that does good, then Jaan Bai is the place for you. The super smart restaurant is an enterprise of the Cambodian Children’s Trust, a non-profit community development organisation working with children and families in Battambang to help them break the cycle of poverty. Jaan Bai, meaning rice bowl in khmer, provides skills and employment for youth in the region.

The restaurant serves up Khmer dishes with a twist. My partner and I had a feast here as we wanted to try a few dishes. The restaurant does have a tasting menu for those who want to try a little bit of everything. We ordered the Kampot black peppercorn tofu, banana flower chicken, morning glory and the staff meal, which is a menu option which allows you to order the same meal the waiting staff had for lunch – for us this was a chicken, sweet basil, chili and rice dish.
The Argentinian Chardonnay-Torrontes wine was also excellent and went well with everything we ordered. All dishes were of a really high quality but my favourite was the Kampot tofu dish (Kampot pepper is famous in Cambodia), which came in a sweet and sticky sauce – so good. Sadly, we were too full to order dessert and I think we really missed out on their unique desert menu – the coconut sorbet, salted honeycomb and lime syrup is something I would have loved to try.

The restaurant was almost at full capacity whilst we were there. Overall, I was really impressed with the quality of the food, the high-end décor and the wonderful waiting staff who were very attentive. When you’re in Battambang, treat yourself to a great meal here and support Cambodian Children’s Trust range of programmes and services, which not only help children to remain living with their biological families but also ensures children have access to education, good nutrition and healthcare.

Jaan Bai
Street 2 Battambang, next to Psar Nat

Charity Cafes - The Delicious Directory