Indigenous cuisine was nowhere to be found in a city where diners can easily find food from around the world. An inconspicuous restaurant in Tuol Tompoung, which is now the only indigenous restaurant in Phnom Penh – and even throughout the Kingdom, is a place where a repressed culture is revived. From it rises a new culinary trend in the capital. Yun Mane opened the restaurant in early April 2017 not only because she wanted to raise awareness about indigenous peoples and cultures, but also because she wanted indigenous people to preserve their cultural identity through food. “It is hard to get people to understand the indigenous identity through talk without show”, Mane said.
While ingredients used are similar to Khmer cuisine, the way of cooking is different. Most indigenous people use more vegetables in their food, they do not use much sugar – relying only on the sweetness of fresh vegetables, and they do not use oil – choosing instead to just dry or boil their ingredients. This is precisely how food at Manes’ restaurant is cooked. Mane even goes to the market herself in order to make sure the products are organic.
Indigenous dishes often contain ingredients such as eggplant, chili, lemongrass, bamboo and rattan shoots. The specialties of the restaurant include Pi-pea ($2) – a beef soup mixed with wild ginger, lemongrass, and garlic; Bok fish with lemongrass ($2.5) – a steamed fish with lemongrass; and Janang ($1.5-$2) – a pork soup with bamboo shoots and noodles. Other popular dishes are the bamboo soup ($10); Samlor Bok ($2) – pounded eggplant with pumpkin, long green bean and meat or fish; and Bok Trob chhav ($1.5-$2) – pounded eggplant with fish sauce. The dishes are prepared by two indigenous and one Khmer chef. Mane, of course, tastes the food to ensure it is authentic.
Ptas Bay Chun Cheat Doeum (Indigenous Peoples’ Kitchen)
#68A, Street 456, Toul Tumpong1
Open every day from 8am to 9pm
Tel 077 994 254