On the street behind Toul Tom Pong pagoda, there is a flat that is always crowded with parked cars and motorcycles. We can always see twin sisters there who are busy running back and fourth at the place. That place is a restaurant called Toul Tom Pong Twins River Snail which, Kun Chansophea, one of the twin sisters, is taking charge of to help her mother.
Sophea, 23 has helped her mother with this business since the shop was just a small stand 10 years ago, with few chairs and an umbrella to fend off the heat. Today it has become a well-known river snail restaurant that is popular among young people, especially whose live around the neighbourhood, but also with other people who have heard of the snails and have come to taste the food.
Sophea said that her family decided to start the business in order to sustain the family’s finances. Since there are seven children in the family, they needed something that could bring in money but required only a little capital.
After the girl’s father passed away when she was 10-years-old, Sophea had to spend more time to help with the family business with her mother and siblings. In 2010, she even decided to drop out from an NGO-funded university during year two.
“I made this decision because the business was very busy and lacked people to help manage it,” she said.
She added that one of the attractions of her restaurant is the hygiene and unique fish sauce, which they buy directly from the suppliers in Kampong Cham.
“In a day we can sell about eight barrels of river snails in the new shop, and we use up to around four kilograms of salt from instant noodles as an ingredient for the sauce,” she said.
“One of our customers told us that he wanted to try something new, a new taste that isn’t the same like the others so we followed his advice. It really worked and that brought us even more customers!”
Since then, the customers have increased dramatically and unexpectedly, thus leading to the success of the business today.
According to Sophea, most of the customers in the restaurant are young high school students and university students.
In the future, Sophea wants to create a boutique shop.