With its modest surroundings and dozen or so red plastic tables, restaurant Bong Rith Bok Lahong Piseh behind Phnom Penh’s Chhouk Meas Market may not stand out at first glance. But this humble eatery has attracted many customers for two reasons; the food’s great taste and its friendly chef who found fame on competitive cooking reality television show MasterChef Khmer.
Wearing a black apron, chef Eang Darith has a seemingly permanently happy demeanour as he stands in the open air kitchen in front of his restaurant – whose name translates to ‘Brother Rith’s Special Papaya Salad’.
Phnom Penh native Darith has been passionate about cooking since he was a boy. The 38-year-old was taught by his mother as she prepared family meals.