I’m very glad I was in Siem Reap for the opening of Brown Rice, owned by Ing Somaly, Choch Cho, Has Piseth, and Seakngoy Try. The restaurant is the product of the owners’ shared love of food and their dream of having their own business. “I really loved the idea of having healthy food for people and providing a peaceful environment for them to meet and build connections,” said Somaly.
The fact that I am friends with the owners doesn’t affect my opinion of the restaurant having a welcoming atmosphere, delicious food and fantastic service. I tasted a variety of the menu’s dishes, which was a great blend of Khmer and Western food, including curries, BBQ and Italian dishes. And don’t forget to try the cocktails. Drinks and food costs between $1.00 to $3.50.
Brown Rice’s dishes are cooked by the talented chefs who also work at Soria Moria, an award-winning training hotel and restaurant and the popular restaurant Molopor Café, which are both in Siem Reap.
Brown Rice is a values-based restaurant that prioritizes quality food, taste and service.
All around Cambodia most restaurants serve white rice by default. But it’s important for the owners of Brown Rice to promote healthy eating because of the benefits to the customer. “The cost of brown rice is double that of white rice. But we sell it at the same price as white rice because we want people to have the affordable option of eating healthy,” said Piseth.
The owners work hard to treat their staff with respect and want to be role models for other businesses on how to treat staff well. “We are not just making this for profit. 5% of our profits go to staff on top of their salary, whether the staff is a cook or cleaner so we can share our success,” said Cho. The owners also want to give their staff opportunities to learn new skills and get professional development training.
3. Community contribution
Brown Rice provides a meeting room upstairs for anyone to use, whether it is an organization or students. “We want to provide a space for youth to share ideas, do research or organize social events for free,” said Seakngoy.
The owners are also discussing how they can use their profits to contribute back to society. That way, guests who eat at Brown Rice will play an integral part in the restaurant’s community contribution. “But ultimately, we want guests to come here because we have good food, not because of the little things we do,” said Cho.
How to get to Brown Rice
When you’re in Siem Reap, try one of your meals at Brown Rice and chat with the staff. They would love to have you as a guest! Whether I’m at the restaurant to catch up with friends, enjoy a cocktail or use Wifi, I always enjoy the environment.
Brown Rice is a five-minute bicycle ride from the centre of town. You can tell the tuk tuk driver it is 200 metres after Pannasasra University of Cambodia (or just say PUC) if you are driving from Wat Bo road and it will be on the right side of the road. If the driver still has trouble, he can call one of the restaurants’ numbers for directions: 017886422, 0979064300, 092669645, 017370132.
“We chose this location because it is a quiet area. I know it sounds strange for a business to be in a quiet area but we wanted our guests to be able to chill and relax,” said Cho.