06 Oct 2019
On Street 51 in Phnom Penh’s BKK 1 commune, a restaurant serving Malaysian food has become a popular place for locals and expatriates alike to have a bowl of its signature cendol, a mouth-watering Southeast Asian favourite dessert.
Eatery Chendul House has a bright yellow interior decorated with contemporary paintings, as well as photos of smiling patrons inside a green heart-shaped neon light.
Among the photos hung on the wall is that of a young woman serving cendol to children. Depicted is the founder of Chendul House, Sok Sokun Bopha.
Bopha, who is also a news presenter for Pnn-TV and an adventurous traveller with a passion for food, has visited Malaysia several times. Her craving for Malaysian food was the inspiration behind the food venture.
“At the beginning, I was thinking of opening a restaurant serving Thai food because it’s part of my heritage as my father is Thai. But having been to Malaysia several times, I realised that I like really this country, especially its environment and the business culture.
“Adding to that was the encouragement I got from my Malaysian friends, which gave me even more confidence to open this restaurant,” said the 23-year-old, who opened the restaurant six months ago.
All the dishes served at Chendul House are are halal, with all the ingredients and meat strictly sourced from the Muslim community.
She combines her cooking skills picked up from Malaysian friends and hours of practice on Youtube tutorial videos.
“I am grateful to have favourable working conditions [as a TV presenter] that help me to easily manage both my career and business. As my working hours start from the afternoon until night time, in the morning I’m able to commit to kitchen work in my restaurant.
“I cook most of the soups and sauce in the kitchen to ensure an authentic Malaysian taste is delivered to my customers,” said Bopha.
When she travels away from home, Bopha has her elder brother take charge of the kitchen and manage the restaurant, and has trained her employees in the art of Malaysian cuisine.
“My employees are trained in how to measure and put the pre-prepared ingredients for each order. Then, I help them to set up the tables for for the day before I leave for work at the TV station.”