There are few things that can beat the searing Cambodian sun and thick humidity, but nothing does the job better than an icy cold gelato. When I first arrived in Siem Reap, I didn’t expect to find dairy paradise. Much to my delight, it turned out the city is home to a myriad of gelato shops that I was more than happy to try.
Among all the gelatos I had, there was one that truly stood out. A favorite amongst travellers and gelato connoisseurs, the numerous raves and reviews urged me to visit the famous gelato shop. In my quest to find the shop however, I had somehow managed to get lost in the many alleys that crisscrossed the area off of Pub Street. After half an hour and working up a sweat, I finally came across Gelato Lab down an umbrella lined street, and never had I ever felt like I had deserved a gelato cone more than in that moment.
Gelato Lab is housed a blue brick walled rustic two story shophouse with a gleaming golden counter and a lofty attic upstairs. While its style says modernity, the shop has the air of an old Italian gelateria with great homemade fare and staff members who remember customers by name and order. Rather than the conventional ice cream display seen in many gelaterias, Gelato Lab takes to traditional covered steel containers that make the shop look that much more comely.
Before serving up top-notch gelato in this part of town, the shop previously operated by the hospital down the street. After two years, it packed up its gelato maker and moved to colorful Philip Street where it’s been churning out the best for over a year. Opened by two Italian owners, Gelato Lab stays true to the fun and flavorful craft of Italian gelato making with its classic yet unbeatable flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, and pistachio. The shop also has a variety of dairy-free sorbets made with local Cambodian fruits that are perfect for cooling off on a hot summer’s day.
For myself, I had a scoop of rich chocolate gelato that I would have taken a picture of if my impatience hadn’t gotten the best of me. Rich, smooth, and packed full of flavor, the gelato ticked all the boxes of what made a great scoop.
To the back of the shiny gold counter is the shop’s kitchen where you can watch staff churn out some of the store’s mouthwatering treats on the old Cattabrigga Effe machine through its window. The shop has a policy of no preservatives, stabilizers, or additives; all the flavor packed in a scoop comes solely from high-quality all-natural ingredients that are sourced from overseas and from home, so you could say this gelato is as healthy as gelato gets.
Gelato isn’t the only thing the shop does well. Gelato Lab spares no expense when it comes to their coffee, in fact it’s one of the best places to grab a cuppa in Siem Reap. Partnering with one of the world’s top coffee connoisseurs, Gelato Lab is the only shop in town that roasts its coffee in-house. If you need a caffeine fix, you can pick from the shop’s Silver or Gold coffee selection. The Silver collection features a blend of Thai and Sumatran coffee while their Gold selection offers a blend Kenyan, Thai, and Guatemalan coffee, with the option of Ethiopian and Salvadoran single origins.
I managed to limit myself to one scoop while at Gelato Lab which I think is a testament to self-discipline as their entire selection is mouthwatering. The next time you find yourself in Siem Reap, take a page from my book and enjoy a scoop or two of gelato at Gelato Lab to cool off. You might need to take a long walk after but the experience of experience is well-worth it.