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The Cleanest Food in Siem Reap

Peter Olszewski Share:
Vibe’s classy and subdubed aesthetic avoids the grungy hipster cliche. Supplied

Classy vegan English-style good vibes have come to Temple Town thanks to the Fountain sibling’s newly-opened landmark Vibe Café and Juicery.
Nutritionist and chef Emma Fountain and her brother Johnathan have turned up in Siem Reap with their vegan venture, which opened last week after leaving their mark in Phnom Penh over the last five years, with Emma having opened and then sold ARTillery.

This high-profile venture was followed in March 30 last year with the opening of Backyard Café, which specializes in healthy minimally-processed (if processed at all) “clean” food.

Now the team is bringing its brand of healthy food to Siem Reap in a smartly designed Brick-Lane-London-cool café in the hip up-and-coming Kandal village in downtown Siem Reap.

Vibe is co-owned by Emma Fountain and her Qatari business partner Ghanim Al-Sulaiti, who owns a big eatery in Doha and has other cafes all around the world. Emma’s brother Johnathan is the public face of the business in town and acts as a sort of general manager.

“We set up Vibe out of a passion for healthy, nutritious food that comes from the earth,” he says. “All of our food is plant-based and we have an ongoing commitment to build relationships with local farmers who don’t use chemicals on their produce and are striving to be as organic as possible. 

“We have a nutrition expert on our team who has carefully combined foods and also cold-pressed juices, superfood smoothies and raw desserts to offer maximum nutritional benefit.”

Plus there’s a further feel good aspect in that some proceeds will help fund a foundation, Jonathan adds. 

 “We have set up the Good Vibe Foundation which will support projects which promote healthy lifestyles, education about healthy eating, clean air and water. It will start in Cambodia, but we will look at extending this to other countries in the future.”

Vegan restaurants usually conjure up images of slightly-grungy hippy-style joints, but Vibe gives off a completely different, er, vibe: a classy subdued café that serves food that looks spectacular.

Take for example, the signature $6 breakfast dish: the raw and gluten free Amazonian Acai Bowl. This is served in a coconut shell and comprises organic acai, blueberry, avocado, banana and fresh coconut and is topped with dragon fruit heart, raw dehydrated granola, chai seeds and coconut shards.

Being strictly plant-based means that nothing excreted in any way from animals can be served, but a casual glance at the menu reveals possible anomalies such as a raw mango and vanilla cheesecake ($4) that actually tastes like real cheesecake. 

Jonathan, however, is quick to explain that the cheese in the cheesecake is actually “cheese” extracted from cashew nuts, while the “milk” served in the lattes is cashew milk. And the yoghurt sold in the café is probiotic coconut yoghurt.

The café does make an exception with its real bee honey, but the menu claims this is cool and kosher because bees are essential to the ecosystem and if diners object they can request honey not be used in their food.

The extensive menu is quite an amazing extravaganza, inviting patrons to embark on a food and drink journey that’s a trip in itself.

The menu simply drips with intriguing esoterica such as Reishi mushroom latte, described as a healing tea made from medicinal tree mushroom.

Or the $2.50 healing infusion of calendula flower, pau d-arco and cat’s claw. 

Not to mention the dessert item named “Hemp Bites” ($1.50 for two). This, says the menu, is made of gluten free oats, organic raw cacao, coconut, organic coffee, dates and “hemp protein powder.”

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