Kungfu Kitchen opened its first branch in Phnom Penh’s Boeung Keng Kang I commune early last year with the ordinary purpose of serving food like any other restaurant does, but hoping to do so in a way that embodies the values of the Chinese martial arts form for which they are named.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has forced the restaurant to discover its own strength and become more than just a place to eat. Kungfu Kitchen is now giving back to the community, donating and trying to be a voice for people in need.
Kungfu Kitchen – owned by Singaporean Denise Lim and her Chinese partner Sean – serves modern Chinese hotpot cuisine. Denise came to Cambodia with her family almost two years ago and fell in love with the country, the culture and its people and decided to make it her home.
Since both owners come from a Chinese cultural background, Kungfu Kitchen was named for the Chinese martial arts form and they want their restaurant to embody the principles of Kung Fu.
“We envisioned a team that worked together using the principles of discipline, consistency and perseverance and we hoped that these values would translate into delicious food and amazing experiences that our customers would enjoy,” Denise says.
Seeing that Cambodia was undergoing a difficult time because of the pandemic, the 35-year-old owner says she wants to try her best to help as much as possible.
Back in April, Kungfu Kitchen was able to launch a series of collaborative efforts with other businesses and organizations to help out their customers who they affectionately refer to as Kung Foodies.
Kungfu Kitchen did their first collaboration with Heekcaa where customers got a free milk tea with a Kungfu Kitchen meal.
Then from April 21 to the end of the month Kungfu Kitchen collaborated with Art and Design on a campaign called “We4You” which encouraged customers to show their gratitude to all delivery drivers during the lockdown.
“The delivery driver has risked their life while doing their job. Getting customers’ demands met, going the extra mile, crossing checkpoints and roadblocks in every kind of weather. So we wanted to do something for them,” Denise says.
If customers commented We4You in their food orders, Kungfu Kitchen gave the delivery drivers a gift of free Sichuan dumplings when they picked them up.
“It’s a small gesture of thanks from us for the important job that they do,” says Denise.
Kungfu Kitchen gave away free dumplings to more than 120 delivery drivers due to the thoughtfulness of Kung Foodies.
“Seeing the look of surprise and happiness on their faces was heart-warming,” she says.
Following the success of that campaign, Denise says she realized that customers really want to help those in need if they can. This motivated her to start another campaign called “KungForGood,” which is all about paying it forward and helping others.
With the help of Kung Foodies, Denise says they will expand their efforts to support more people and help as many as they possibly can.
For the “KungForGood” campaign, Kungfu Kitchen has partnered with NGO’s Local 4 Local, Khemara Cambodia and Cambodia Knits.
Local 4 Local is a community service organisation that helps support street food vendors and cyclo-drivers by purchasing meals from the former and hiring the latter to deliver them to the homeless and other people in need.
Khemara Cambodia is an NGO working to empower women and children through action within local communities. Their programmes cover a broad range of areas from early childhood education to preventing violence against women and children.
Cambodia Knits is a social enterprise based in Cambodia making beautiful and high quality hand-made products while also providing fair and flexible employment opportunities to Cambodian women.
“We created a “KungForGood” set where our customers can have fun and cook the Kungfu Kitchen signature Sichuan Noodles and Sichuan dumplings themselves at home.
“Each set has a cute knitted dumpling keychain – made by Cambodia Knits – and all of the keychain proceeds will go to them. To pay it forward, Kungfu Kitchen will also donate a dumpling lunch set to Local 4 Local and Khemara for every “KungForGood” set sold,” Denise explains.
“KungForGood” has two lunch sets available with one priced at $6.20 and another larger set priced at $14.95. The campaign is scheduled to last for one week from May 13 to May 19.
“KungForGood” is exclusively on Nham24, so download the Nham24 app if you’d like to order your own “KungForGood” lunch set.
Denise says that the campaign has gone well and that Kungfu Kitchen has donated 80 lunch sets to their NGO partner organisations so far.
Kungfu Kitchen serve a lot of great dishes at their two locations – one in Boeung Keng Kang I and the other in Tuol Tom Poung I – but their top sellers overall are definitely their dumplings, with pork and beef dumplings at prices starting from $1.20.
Aside from dumplings, the top dishes are sweet and sour chicken ($3.50) and crispy squid ($4.60). The most popular hotpot set is the beef hotpot ($6.50).
Denise and Sean have recently launched two sister brands, both of which are fairly new concepts.
KFK Hotpot Mart focuses on providing more value and variety for a hotpot experience at home, while KFK Kitchen Wok is more for quick fuss-free meals. These brands are also on Nham24 as well as Foodpanda and WowNow.
It has definitely been challenging to stay in business during the Covid-19 era, especially during the recent lockdown – but Denise says their team is very committed and they managed to re-open shortly after Khmer New Year.
Denise says they are also very committed to staff and customer safety.
“At Kungfu Kitchen, we hold our team to very high hygiene standards. We keep the kitchen clean, our masks on and we disinfect our delivery bags. Our team is also fully vaccinated,” Denise says.
They have also worked with their delivery partners like Nham24 to ensure that the food is delivered safely.
“Nham24 cleans their delivery boxes and trays regularly and sanitizes their hands to ensure safe transactions with customers,” says Denise.
For the time being, Denise says they will continue to focus on bringing the best delivery or dine-at-home experience possible to Kung Foodies and that level of excellence in their products and service will be extended to their dine-in customers whenever they are allowed to open again.
“To all our Kung Foodies, thank you so much for your support during these times! We can’t wait to meet you in person once dine-in opens again,” says Denise.
Kungfu Kitchen is open daily from 10am to 8pm. The first branch is located at #24e St 302 in Boeung Keng Kang I and the second branch is at #54 St 454 in Tuol Tom Poung I.
For more information, Kungfu Kitchen can be contacted on Facebook @KungFuKitchenkh.