From a single cart to an empire
Cambodian “lort cha” (stir-fried rice pin noodles) and Nom Kacchay (leek rice cakes) are two of the Kingdom’s most popular street foods. The residents of towns across the country have long grown used to the sight of the small carts meandering around their streets each day.
With smoke rising from tuk-tuk by the roadside, Pin Punreay ladles a tasty sauce atop a bowl of piping hot leek rice cakes. Despite sweating in the heat of the fire he cooks over each day, he has vowed to persevere in this business. In fact, he has already begun building a franchise empire.
He inherited his first cart from his parents in 1987, and has grown the simple operation into a complex one.
He began by designing distinctive packaging and signage so that customers would recognise his brand and know they could expect quality products.
He also opened his first fixed sales location, in Siem Reap province. With the excellent taste of his parents’ recipes, he has been able to successfully promote his brand.
Punreay now has six branches, one in Phnom Penh, and the rest ready to tantalise the taste buds of both tourists and locals in Siem Reap.
Kruosa Lotchha Nomkouchhay KLC 1987 is the name of his business, using a different transliteration of “lort cha”.
“We also wholesale noodles and chive cakes. We package them hygienically and attractively. This means they can be sent abroad or cooked by customers in their own homes,” he said.
He also has a lucrative sideline supplying noodles and cakes to other vendors in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Thanks to his carefully chosen locations in Siem Reap, he is able to attract many of the international tourists who visit the province to be wowed by the grandeur of the Angkor Archaeological Park and its magnificent temples.
He has received high praise from nearly every foreigner who has been tempted by his wares.
In addition, he has been able create work for the members of nearly 300 families who dwell near the Bakong Temple complex, which are located to the east of Siem Reap town. The community produces raw materials, including leek, and also produce the cakes.
Punreay taught the villagers the art of making his parents’ famous cakes, and now buys them back from the villagers.
“There is another community in Banteay Srei district which supplies us with palm sugar, which is one of the key ingredients in our unique sauce formula. By providing this kind of employment, my business contributes to a reduction in outward migration in these villages – especially for women who have not finished high school,” he added.
Punreay plans to expand his branches across the country, saying that his ambition is for his cakes to be associated with the Kingdom the way pho is when it comes to Vietnam.