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The ‘kaya’, or coconut jam, toast along with a side of eggs and the restaurant’s Singapore-style coffee.
The ‘kaya’, or coconut jam, toast along with a side of eggs and the restaurant’s Singapore-style coffee. Hong Menea

The Lion City’s take on toast

While Singaporean cuisine may be known for its spicy curries and noodle dishes, it has another, more subtle, staple: toast.

Offering up this side of Singaporean fare is Ya Kun Kaya Toast, a sparkling new restaurant on Street 294 just off Norodom Boulevard that also has a full menu of heartier dishes from the small city-state. Its interior features pictures of Singapore and of the chain’s founder on the walls.

The house specialty is the kaya toast ($1.80), two crisp slices of bread smeared with coconut jam, and a thin piece of butter wedged in between. It comes in a set with soft-boiled eggs and a steaming cup of coffee.

This isn’t Ya Kun’s first time in the Kingdom. A previous iteration of the café chain closed in 2015, due to internal conflict among the shareholders, according to Chenda Chea, 25, a current shareholder and general manager in Cambodia. Since opening, it has attracted a loyal following, especially among young locals and well-to-do families, if the fancy cars in the parking lot are any indication.

“This time, I decided to bring it back myself,” Chea says. “[Because] I still see [that] this market is still short of Singapore taste. We don’t have toast, or Singapore-style coffee, so I still see that this is going to work.”

But the café doesn’t just serve toast and drinks. Different from the outlets in Singapore, Cambodia’s version also offers dishes like laksa ($3.80), which are noodles in spicy soup mixed with prawns and coconut milk.

General Manager Chenda Chea.
General Manager Chenda Chea. Hong Menea

It also has nasi lemak ($3.80), a Malay rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves, and mee siam ($3.50), a spicy rice vermicelli dish.

“Cambodian people like soup and rice noodles, or soup with rice. So we want to provide them [with that], for more variety,” she says.

Having worked in the previous Ya Kun, Chea is using her experience to manage the café on her own. She sent her staff to Singapore for 10 days to train, and a Singaporean trainer also came to Cambodia to supervise her crew. It is this quality that she thinks will make Ya Kun stand out among competitors, including in its coffee style.

This is made by mixing coffee grounds with hot water and stirring before pouring it into a “sock” filter in another coffee pot, which helps to draw out the flavour.

“Our toast is unique [and] our coffee is unique. It’s [also a] taste that Cambodian people can accept,” she says.

Ya Kun Kaya Toast is open every day from 7am-7pm. It is located at #29 Street 294. Tel: 023 212 376

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