Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bringing desserts from the street to the table



Bringing desserts from the street to the table

Bang Em’s mono dessert (left) and the best-selling banana and coconut milk special.
Bang Em’s mono dessert (left) and the best-selling banana and coconut milk special. Athena Zelandonii

Bringing desserts from the street to the table

If you’re going to open a dessert shop, it makes sense to site it near an area of high footfall. That’s just what Cheav Chumnith, the owner of Bang Em, did when he opened his outlet opposite the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

Aptly enough, Bang Em means “dessert”. Chumnith’s concept was to take the traditional desserts available at the markets and on the street, and move them indoors. A good dessert, the 33-year-old former marketing manager says, makes him feel nostalgic with its emphasis on taste, quality and decoration.

Chumnith says it took two months of experimenting before he felt he had a line of desserts people would like.

“We’re not just selling a plate of sticky rice,” he says. “We make our desserts using natural colourings from fruits and vegetables like beetroot, pumpkin, carrots – not from chemicals – and with artistic designs in order to create a dish that is both great-looking and delicious.”

As he talks, Chumnith shows off his creations, among which are fried banana wrapped in pastry with pandan leaf and coconut milk for $2.20; melt-in-the-mouth mono – a $1.70 combination of taro, corn, longan fruit, coconut milk and sugar; and sticky rice with durian sauce.

Cheav Chumnith, who also calls himself Ben.
Cheav Chumnith, who also calls himself Ben. Athena Zelandonii

Thirsty diners can also enjoy fresh juices made from rice, pumpkin, potato, carrot and guava, among others.

All of the desserts are priced between $1.30 and $2.50; the most popular, he says, is the fried banana in pastry with pandan leaf and coconut milk, a dish he created.

Bang Em has plenty of natural light, the design is open and simple, and the long list of desserts is easily seen on a board on the wall. Customers order at the counter, where they can examine the different ingredients that go into their dessert.

“I spent two months testing each dessert on different groups of people, because I wanted to create one taste that everyone would like – and I wanted to give people who love desserts a place that they can enjoy in order to create a business that lasts,” he says.

And while many people still eat dessert on the street and in markets, Chumnith says many are finding that a restaurant environment is more comfortable. It’s not just a place to sit with friends, he says; the ambience encourages diners to come back again and again.

“For now, I’m still researching new Khmer desserts for my business, but I can say I don’t feel any pressure from competitors – the more dessert places there are, in fact, the more people will eat desserts, and that helps with the dessert trend,” he says.

Chumnith has plans to establish more Bang Em outlets in the coming years – though that will require his first outlet to do well.

But, as he points out, every business that succeeds started out small. And Chumnith is not short of ambition.

Bang Em is located at #132 Russian Boulevard, in front of RUPP. It is open from 10am to 9pm every day. Delivery service: 070 226 436.

MOST VIEWED

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Hun Sen gets 4th Covid shot, urges compatriots to follow

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany on January 14 received their fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine and called on compatriots to follow suit as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in the community. This marks the launch of Cambodia's fourth-dose vaccination campaign,

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer

  • Singapore backs Cambodia's efforts on Myanmar

    Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supports Cambodia in its efforts to seek a solution to the ongoing Myanmar crisis as the chair of ASEAN. Lee expressed his support during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen via videoconference on January 14, with the talks focused