Two movie stars and two young entrepreneurs have teamed up to start a new chapter as restaurateurs after a year of success in their online food business.
“We started our cloud kitchen more than a year ago. We were flooded with orders for delivery so we decided to open a restaurant where people could sit down and enjoy their meal comfortably,” says Sarat Thaymay, one of the restaurant’s owners.
Called “Joub Klean,” which means “meet [when we’re] hungry”, the restaurant focuses on four elements – sustainability, hygiene, taste and service.
“Having a physical store would enhance the customers’ experience and bridge our connection with them as compared to the takeaway service we used to run.
“Now they can talk to us and share their feedback, all while bearing witness to the quality service that we provide,” she says, as she admits they still have a long way to go for the newly-opened restaurant.
Located on Street 340 in Tuol Tompoung commune, Joub Klean serves spicy dishes on eco-friendly dinnerware.
Surrounded by coconut, mango and dwarf palm trees, along with some vibrant flowers, the restaurant was decorated to cater to frequent users of the photo and video-sharing platform, Instagram, says another owner Chioung Sovithyea.
“Our restaurant sets a nice background for their photographs. They can get nice selfies anywhere here, and enjoy the garden by day and the beautiful lighting by night. We want our restaurant to be as in touch with nature as it can,” he says.
The choice for eco-friendly dinnerware lines up with the Go Green initiative of another owner, actress Salath Sreylang, who actively engages in tree-planting and forest protection activities.
Aside from serving delectable dishes, Sreylang wanted to raise the customers’ awareness of the environment.
However, she admits that it has been a challenge trying to convince their customers that the bamboo straws are the healthier and greener option.
“I’ve tried to replace plastic straws with bamboo ones even though I’ve heard some customers say they preferred the former because they were easier to use and seemed cleaner,” she says.
Bamboo straws are sterilised and cleaned properly before they reach the dining tables, assures Sreylang.
“Switching to sustainable products is not a cheap choice. A bamboo straw costs 100 riel (2.5 US cents). With that kind of money, we could actually purchase dozens of plastic straws but we are committed to sticking to the more sustainable alternative.
“We’re also considering sourcing sustainable food containers and biodegradable bags for our takeaway service soon,” she says.
Among the restaurant’s most popular dishes are the green papaya salad set, grilled seafood and beef and green papaya salad with beef – all sold at $10. Deep-fried green papaya salad ($4) and Laos-inspired beef larb ($3) also tops the list.
Another favourite, the spicy green papaya salad – or bok lahong – can be served with different side dishes such as meatballs ($7), pork belly or deep-fried fish ($7.50), assorted seafood ($10) or a giant platter ($15).
Thaymay, who is in charge of the menu, says: “The deep-fried papaya salad here is one of a kind. We have a special technique used in deep frying the papaya slices and preparing the sauce. I developed this recipe with my friend, a skilful chef from Thailand.”
Inspired by Thai street food, she says their papaya salad is the result of the different tastes she’s cultivated from her experiences travelling across Asia.
In addition to dining, the restaurant also set aside an area for people who plan to drink until late at night.
“They can sit on the spot under the bridge. It has been bedecked with beautiful lighting. We dim the light to give off a chill vibe,” she says.
Though only a few weeks have passed since its establishment, the four co-owners are already eyeing an expansion at Kampot province, which prides itself with delicious seafood.
Joub Klean is located at No 14, Street 430, Phsar Doeum Thkov commune, in the capital’s Chamkarmorn district. For more information, contact 010 728 299 or 093 748 797.