Food for thought
While Phnom Penh is an amazing capital city, it bears the scars of a troubled, recent history – the evidence of which can be clearly seen all around you.
As a visitor to this place, you have the fantastic opportunity to not only rub shoulders with the wonderful people who live here, but also directly impact their lives in a positive way. One way you can help is by dining at one of the many charitable restaurants operating in Phnom Penh.
Black Bambu, on St.228, is a sophisticated fusion restaurant dishing up a dazzling array of gourmet meals from across Asia and further afield, with impressive attention to detail. Profits from Black Bambu directly support Cambodian Children’s Fund, an organisation dedicated to transforming impoverished children into tomorrow’s leaders. Many of Black Bambu’s staff have come through the CCF programme and found life-changing employment there.
Over in the trendy BKK1 area on St.310, you’ll find Hagar Restaurant, featuring a mouth-watering range of Asian and international food. They also have a weekend buffet and bbq for just $8.50 per person, with other buffets available for a minimum of 20 people. You’ll walk out feeling truly satisfied, not just because you’ve raided the buffet for all it’s worth, but also because you know your money is supporting Hagar in their mission to restore wholeness to the lives of women and children across Cambodia.
Just a short stroll from Hagar you’ll come across Lotus Blanc. Boasting a menu featuring delicious French and Asian cuisine, your meals are prepared and served by students from Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE), a vocational training centre providing free education for underprivileged children.
At Romdeng Restaurant, on St.174, you’ll be greeted by an enticing array of Khmer dishes. From traditional to contemporary, everything on their menu is authentic and guaranteed to please. A part of Friends International, Romdeng is a training restaurant providing valuable skills and structure to some of Phnom Penh’s least fortunate young people.
Another Friends International establishment, the aptly named Friends the Restaurant, can be found on St.13, not far from the National Museum. Famous for its outstanding frozen shakes and daiquiris, along with its scrumptious tapas menu, this restaurant also provides empowering training to at-risk young people and has a wonderful craft store next door.
The Restore One Café, tucked away on St.123, is a training centre for vulnerable women and provides a 12-month programme, instilling the necessary skills to excell in Phnom Penh’s booming hospitality and tourism sector. They also cook up some of the best burgers in town and do not skimp on the filling!
Nestled just along from the Boeung Keng Kang Market is Craft PEACE Café on St.392. This hip eatery is big on style and even bigger on food. The cafe provides an outlet for the craftsmanship and creativity of physically challenged artisans trained by the Banteay Prieb vocational training organisation. Their skill is displayed in everything from the crafts lining the walls to some of the furniture throughout the building.
Located on Sisowath Quay, Daughters of Cambodia Centre is all about helping victims of trafficking in Cambodia, with their cafés helping to support this cause financially and also to provide valuable training to at-risk women. They also serve up delicious café food which includes mouthwaterng bakery items, such as spongy cakes and delicious brownies.
While you are in the area, visit Cambodia’s inaugural solar-powered coffee and food vending tuk-tuk, Aziza’s Coffee, which is staffed by former recycled goods pickers.
At the excellent and highly affordable Eleven One Kitchen (St.334 and St.460), the staff develop their abilities in the best conditions. The enterprise offers employment to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, trained at the likes of Friends International or PSE.