Im Chheang, 44, is a man who knows his junk food. Since 2003, the Battambang native’s family has provided the Street 51 pub crawlers with greasy hot dogs, burgers, chicken wings and kebabs. The Midnight Express, as he calls the food stall mounted on his motorbike’s trailer that he parks in front of Pontoon Club every night, would not look out of place in Times Square, and his menu options are could send a competitive eating champion into cardiac arrest.
Chheang, who is known by his customers as “Dr. Burger” or “Hot Dog Guy”, personally delivers food straight to customers’ homes and watering holes when they place orders by phone. With his trademark black beret, polo shirt and short goatee, he makes a point of personally greeting everyone in the room as he divvies out the orders, as if he is everyone’s best friend. Between smothering hot dogs with mustard and firing up burgers on the stove, Dr. Burger spoke to Bennett Murray about the joys and woes of street selling.
How did you get into the American junk food business?
I had my brother from Australia arrive to work in Cambodia in 2003. He chose all the food options. He also runs Angkor Bakery, which sells us our buns.
Describe your typical day.
I wake up at noon, go to Lucky Supermarket to buy everything, then I go back to sleep until about 4:30. I open at around 8:30 or nine, close 5:30am or six, clean everything, then go to sleep at around 8:30. I sell maybe 40 hotdogs every night, and maybe 20 hamburgers. On Fridays and Saturdays I sell a lot more. I don’t take days off. Only Khmer New Year and Pchum Ben.
How many deliveries do you make in a typical night?
I get maybe six to ten orders in one night. For close deliveries, it is free. For long distance deliveries, I ask for a dollar or two.
Do you have any weird experiences delivering food?
I have drunks order my food and I do a home delivery, but then I call them and they are asleep. But it’s okay, my customers are my friends.
Ever have customers try to keep you for the night?
A few times I have had pretty ladies ask me to go to bed with them! But I’m a married man, so I say no.
What kind of meat is in your food?
Everything! We have beef and pork hotdogs and burgers, fish burgers, chicken burgers, chili dogs, lamb kebabs, chicken kebabs, and more!
How do you like selling food?
I love it, because I meet a lot good people who come here. Sometimes we get a lot of barang, sometimes a lot of Khmer. It depends.
What is your favorite thing to eat?
I like everything. But bacon and cheese burgers and hotdogs are the best.