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Brazilian restaurant boss speaks

Singaporean Sebastian Koh talks about his new Brazilian restaurant, Samba, on Sihanouk Blvd in Phnom Penh Photograph: Ran Reuy/Phnom Penh Post

Phnom Penh Post reporter Rann Reuy sat down to talk with newly opened Brazilian restaurant Samba’s Singaporean owner Sebastian Koh about the restaurant business in Cambodia.

Why did you decide to open a restaurant in Cambodia?

Actually we looked at the market and decided to stay out until last February. We knew the food and beverage industry was growing with more investors and more expats coming here to create new businesses and so we felt the time was right. We are here not to create dining experiences for foreigners especially, but for the entire Cambodian market. We wanted to bring Brazilian food to Cambodia, to showcase Brazilian food and the excellent ways in which the food is served.

You are Singaporean. Why choose to do a Brazilian restaurant? Do you have Brazilian partners?

I first started Samba in Singapore in 2003. The same philosophy that brought us here is what we started with in Singapore – to experience the best of Brazil. Samba is the name of a Brazilian dance, with its own festivals and music. After that, we brought the idea to Shanghai and then to Vietnam; now Cambodia. We are targeting Asia and in the future hope to bring Samba to Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.

Who are your target clientele, Westerners or Cambodians?

We are targeting both; as I said, we are here to compete. We are bringing Brazilian food to all people; we don’t focus on one certain sector of society.

The buffet costs up to US$25 per person. How do you expect Cambodian’s to afford it?

That is the price for dinner buffet for the first month we are open. We will adapt lunch during the week days to make it accessible for local people to enjoy our food. At our restaurant we traditionally focus more on dinner than any other meal.

How much will the buffet be in the future?

At the moment, we are still studying the income of the average Cambodian to determine what the appropriate price point is. We have only been open one month, and we are looking for ways to provide a lunch menu that local people can afford. Often at lunch Cambodians choose to spend the time with their family, so we must aim to attract more local people during the weekend.

How many tables does Samba have? Do you have VIP rooms?

We have a total of 150 seats along with 30 tables with buffet service. We accept reservations and bookings for VIP rooms as well. We have a function area for events, too.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at



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