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Khmer shaved ice is traditionally served with a range of toppings, like red mung beans and various kinds of jellies.
Khmer shaved ice is traditionally served with a range of toppings, like red mung beans and various kinds of jellies. Pha Lina

Just desserts: Catering only for Khmer sweet tooths

At Teuk Skor, Phnom Penh’s first strictly Cambodian dessert shop, there’s not an ice cream, brownie or tiramisu to be found. Instead, the glass cases are filled with traditional flavours from the Kingdom: coconut, durian, taro and lotus seed, all enhanced with generous helpings of palm sugar.

Chanraksmey Kim, 27, opened the store a year ago and believes that it’s the first to specialise solely in authentic Khmer desserts. “[There are] a few shops in town that also serve these kinds of desserts, but they are in the form of food restaurants,” he said. “Their main menu is not about Khmer desserts, but Teuk Skor was created to focus only on Khmer desserts.”

This means that those with a craving can find a wide range of options to satisfy their sweet tooth in one place.

“The real inspiration is to create a comfortable environment for Khmer dessert lovers,” Kim said. “This way it is easier for them to find their favourite Khmer desserts here, rather than along the street or deep inside the market.”

Owner Chanraksmey Kim’s recipes were handed down from his mother.
Owner Chanraksmey Kim’s recipes were handed down from his mother. Pha Lina

What’s more, customers need not fear paying a premium for straying away from the markets and street carts. Most of the desserts cost around 5,000 riel (about $1.25) and extra toppings can be added for anywhere between 500 to 1,500 riel (10 cents to 35 cents).

The store is open, light and simple, allowing the desserts to shine. Customers order at the counter, where they can see all the different ingredients that go into the sweet creations.

According to Kim, the most popular treats with locals are the nom pang with coconut cream, a sweetened baguette sliced and served with coconut-cream dip, and the fresh fruit dessert, a mix of jackfruit, longan, avocado, taro and apple topped with an egg. Cha kvai doughnuts and a range of smoothies also appear on the menu.

Kim said his personal favorite was the durian sticky rice, a bowl of the popular local fruit served on a bed of sweet rice. He recommended adding a little ice on top for hot days.

Owner Chanraksmey Kim.
Owner Chanraksmey Kim. Pha Lina

The Khmer shaved ice is also a popular – and pretty – option. Palm sugar syrup is drizzled over layers of ice, jelly and traditional ingredients like basil seed, red bean, mung bean and a black caramalised rice known as “tabae”. It’s all served in a glass jar.

For those who like their desserts seriously sweet, Teuk Skor can adjust the sugar level of their desserts upward to suit each customer, while for those watching their intake, sugar levels can also be ratcheted down.

Like all good recipes, the desserts on the menu at Teuk Skor were handed down through Kim’s family, from his grandmother to his mother, and now from his mother to his shop.

“My mum learned from my grandma how to make desserts,” Kim said. “And she keeps updating those recipes, improving from the original recipes to make them taste better.”

Teuk Skor is located at #11 Street 360, and is open from 1pm to 9pm every day.

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