09 Mar 2019
As the son of a Cambodian-Chinese family who have run a successful sach kap (diced meat) restaurant for three decades, Chan Sa Oun knows the dish all too well.
He says that demand for sach kap peaks three times every year – during Chinese New Year, during the Qingming Festival (Tomb-Sweeping Day) and during the Hungry Ghost Festival.
But the Phnom Penh born restaurant entrepreneur wanted business to blossom all year round, so he decided to branch off from his father’s shop – Chan Kith 39, a sach kap mainstay in the capital for 30 years – to begin his own restaurant serving traditional dried noodles, accompanied by his family’s roasted meat.
“Even before I was born, our business is only busiest time during Chinese New Year, Qingming, and the Hungry Ghost Festival. I wanted to do something interesting, then I thought my family has been selling only whole roasted pigs for many years, I thought this could change,” the 27-year-old tells The Post.
To fill the gap between the restaurants peak times, Sa Oun, along with his brother, came up with an idea to open a restaurant that combines Chinese inspired dried noodles with the family’s traditional sach kap.
“I think most people prefer to have mee (yellow dough egg noodles), steamed rice for three meals a day gets too much,” says Sa Oun.
Noodles for breakfast are gaining popularity as a staple for many of Cambodia’s young urbanites with a modern lifestyle, as they are convenient to prepare and consume.
And when the evening falls and the tropical heat subsides, many carts and vendors selling noodles and roasted meat can be spotted on street corners in Phnom Penh.
Sach kap generally consists of roast pork, duck, seasoned chicken, organs and blood curd, and has long been a popular takeaway dish for people who do not wish to cook, but will buy to eat with steamed rice at home.
Six months studying
Before launching Four Flavours Dried Noodle three years ago, Sa Oun and his brother spent six months studying how to make fresh dried noodles and pork stock soup.
Sa Oun’s mee is a yellow dough egg noodle, served with dumplings and four varieties of sach kap. His dried noodles are inspired by those mastered by Chinese cooks for generations.