Friday, 3 August 2012

Sandan - Creative Cambodian Cuisine

Cambodian cuisine is a little known highlight of the region.

Yes, everyone knows that thai food is amazing but have you had Cambodian cuisine? Hands down the most amazing food we have tasted so far in Cambodia was from a gem of a restaurant named, Sandan.

Sandan is a training restaurant run by former street youths and their teachers from the local organisation M'lop Tapang.

The goal at Sandan is to give these hospitality students the practical experience and confidence necessary to gain safe employment in Sihanoukville's growing tourist industry.

M'lop Tapang has been working with the street children of Sikanoukville since 2003. They currently work with over 3000 children and youths and over 1000 families at nine specialist centres in the Sikanoukville area. They provide safe shelter, medical care, family reintegration, sports and arts, education and training, counseling, family support and protect from all types of abuse.

All profits from Sandan restaurant are reinvested into M'lop Tapang programs.

This restaurant impressed us from the start. It's beautiful entrance and smiling staff welcomed us and showed the children to a nearby pagoda where an array of books, puzzles and toys awaited them. The menu was extensive with meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes to choose from. Then the kids menu was nothing short of awesome. Creative dishes with cool names that had the kids pondering for ages which they would choose.

The children played while waiting for our food to arrive which gave Joel and I a chance to speak with the staff and teachers. They were able to give us some background on the students. The opportunity provided to these men and women is nothing short of a miracle. It truly is a dream come true for many of them to be taugh a skill that will give them a better chance of gaining employment to provide a life and income for themselves and their families.

Then the food came, oh my god. It was exquisite. I enjoyed a traditional dish called Amok with seafood and Joel savoured over the Khmer muslin beef and peanut curry. The kids did not waste any time eating up their honey soy chicken skewers with rice and dipping sauce.

While the kids enjoyed one last play in the pagoda, Joel and I enjoy a delicious dessert, cashew nut crusted banana fritters with kaffir lime syrup and coconut chili gelato - absolutely devine !

We enjoyed this restaurant so much and believe that the service they are providing is so wonderful we wanted to share this with all of you. So if you ever find yourself in sunny Sihanoukville please please go support this wonderful program and enjoy some of the best Cambodian cuisine money can buy.

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