If you’ve been following our adventures for a while, you probably came to understand what kind of hopless foodies we are. When travelling, we are never so happy than when we discover new flavours, new dishes, new spices, new recipes… Even if it means trying unusual, or let’s say even uncanny ingredients that you would never try at home. In fact, we find those kind of culinary experiences extremely thrilling and we want to share with you the story of our favourite one so far, that happened in the heart of Cambodia, so close from the iconic temples of Angkor. Let us introduce you to the Bugs Cafe! (Beware, shocking pictures below 🙂 !)
The Bugs Cafe, owned by french expatriates Davy and Marjolaine Boulard and sitting right in the city centre of Siem Reap, is indeed what we can call a peculiar restaurant. There you can enjoy all different kinds of hairy, leggy, viscous little creatures that are usually living at the bottom of your darkest nightmares. But don’t expect to find on your plate the classical over-n-over-stir fried kebab of insects that you can purchase on any tourist market in Asia. In the Bugs Cafe, insects are THE ultimate delicacies and the talented khmer chef Seiha Soeun is using all his creativity to prepare unique and sublime dishes of ants, grasshoppers, silk worms, scorpions, tarentulas and more that you won’t forget anytime soon!
So here we are, comfortably settled on the terrace of the Bugs Cafe when Davy brings us the entrée, a superb and colourful spicy papaya salad. Classic in Asia, right? Except this one is somewhat… Different! Three enormous roasted scorpions are sitting artfully on top of the dish. No big deal for us here, we’ve been hoping to try some for a while. Let’s bite one! Yum! How to describe it? The consistency is quite similar to crab, with a light interesting smoky taste, but the flavour varies from tail, to body, to claws. Mariette found scorpions to be an interesting accompaniment to the delicious papaya salad but not crazy alone, meanwhile Quentin loved them (especially the claws), comparing them to crayfish without the salty hint.
The main dish that Davy brought us next was definitely the best, but also the most hardcore for newbies in the big insect world: the discovery platter. Best seller of the Bugs Cafe, it is perfect to discover all the different flavours that insects have to offer. Here is the list of the surprising things you can find on it : an oven-baked skewer of marinated silkworms, grasshoppers, tarentula, and giant waterbug, some ants spring rolls, a grasshopper muffin, the famous tarentula-donut accompanied by a delicious mango purée and, last but not least, the Wondtastic silkworms and grasshoppers wok sautéed with fresh kampot pepper.
Grasshoppers and silkworms are the easiest to start with. Eating them is a bit like eating crackers, once you’ve started you can’t stop until you finished them all. Plus they are really tasty. We found that silkworms have a very nice nutty taste while grasshoppers are quite surprising, presenting different flavours depending on how they are cooked. Ants are great too, adding a subtile lemony taste to the recipes. But the most exciting insect to try was definitely the tarentula. Considering that Quentin is a long time arachnophobe, that was a double-challenge! But he proudly managed to overcome the psychological barrier and bravely bit into the giant eight-legged hairy monster. Yep, giant! Bugs Cafe’s tarentulas aren’t like those poor small things you usually find in your bathtub in winter. They are fierce members of the arachnids and can easily be as big as your hand! That’s why, as Quentin did, it is easier to try the tarentula-donut first, this way you don’t see the beast directly. Quentin took the monster between two fingers, closed carefully his eyes, concentrated, and then… Yum, a leg! Yum, another! Yum, half the head! Mariette’s turn! In less than a minute, Miss Tarentula-donut was no more! And guess what? That was our favourite insect discovery so far. The legs, head and thorax have a real hearty meat flavour, while the abdomen tastes more like chicken liver. Seriously, we didn’t expect it to be so delicious! What a blast! After that we still had to brave the one on the skewer, but it was not such a big trouble after this first donut experience!
And what about that wonderful bug wok then? All this tarentula talking nearly made us forget about it. A shame considering this super-delicious perfectly-balanced dish was the best gastronomic discovery we had in Asia in 8 months! Sincerely, this wok alone makes the Bugs Cafe experience worthwhile!
And to end a perfect diner, we needed a perfect dessert! Shea prepared us an amazing chocolate fondue in which you can dip delicious fresh fruits and of course… Insects! Well, they are very good with chocolate too!
You have problems with the idea of eating insects? No worries, Davy will be there to guide you and encourage you all the way. People from all around the world come to have a bit of adventure and try this different, yet succulent cuisine. Fun fact: some customers are even sent by their psychologists in order to cure certain phobias related to insects!
At a time when to feed the whole planet represents more and more economical and ecological problems -and now that we know that insects can be so delicious-, introducing more of this little creatures in our food habits seams like a good alternative to encourage. Not only are they good, they are also very healthy, full of proteins and very easy to farm if necessary with a minimal ecological impact. Yet at Bugs Cafe, only the silkworms come from farms. All the other insects are captured in the wild by local hunters using traditional methods. If you are interested to witness their extraordinary dexterity to catch scorpions and tarentulas, you can even book a trip to the countryside directly from the restaurant to spend the day with one of those amazing hunters. Thrills guaranteed!
And if you happen to be in Siem Reap but after all that you are still not convinced that you should try to eat a bug or two, you can still join your more adventurous friends to the Bugs Cafe and try instead one of their tasty dishes of snake or crocodile, cooked following famous Cajun’s mode!
The Bugs Cafe
351 Thmey Village, Angkor Night Market Street, 351 Bugs St, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Ouvert de 17:00 à 00:00
Tel : +855 17 764 560