Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bringing street food indoors – and branding it



Bringing street food indoors – and branding it

Yam Yam owner Bryan Bai wants a brand that sticks.
Yam Yam owner Bryan Bai wants a brand that sticks. Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

Bringing street food indoors – and branding it

At Yam Yam, it’s all about branding. From the chopsticks to the spoons to the hat on owner Bryan Bai’s head, the name and logo are plastered across the eatery, which opened last month in the capital’s BKK 3 neighbourhood.

“The logo has to be everywhere to let people feel safe and comfortable,” he says.

This is not the first venture in Cambodia for Bai, originally from Xi’an, China. He’s also opened a fashion store – an experience which played into designing the joint’s graphic identity, he says.

The concept behind the food, he says, was to take the diversity of street food options found around the city – and his native China – and bring them indoors.

“A better quality environment, original taste, with the same low price – this kind of thing is still very new here,” he says.

Drawing inspiration from business models he came across in other Asian cities, Bai says he’s designed the business around catering to the young, hip urbanites of Phnom Penh. The wall decorations were commissioned from well-known young doodle artist Chhoun Vichheka.

“I learned a lot from young Phnom Penh people, I learned about their money habits,” he says.

The menu’s price range goes from 1,200 riel (about 30 cents) for a single bao to 10,000 riel (about $2.50) for the most expensive entrees, like the steamed noodle. It may be a small mark-up from street prices but, Bai points out, a food cart on the street sells only one thing; at Yam Yam, you’ve got the option of multiple food carts in one establishment.

The logo is everywhere.
The logo is everywhere. Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

“People can enjoy all different [street] foods in one restaurant,” Bai says.

Despite being in the country for just two years, Bai says orienting his business to a Khmer clientele came naturally, as he saw similarities between Chinese and Khmer cuisine.

“Each cuisine has the same characteristics of noodles, rice, dumplings, bao bao,” he says, smiling widely.

The food itself at Yam Yam is what you would expect, accompanied by standard drink options like $1 red or green sweet iced teas.

“The food, as you can see, it’s not complicated. It’s fast-served, and this is the brand that people will look at and think when they want to eat,” Bai says.

The name evokes the Khmer word nyam (to eat) and also the Western word “yum”. But he didn’t call the restaurant “Yum Yum” because he worried it could be mistaken for a Latin spelling of the Khmer word for “cry”, which, as he points out, is not the desired result when eating food.

In essence, Bai is creating a fast-food brand, and already has his eye on expansion, taking the concept - and the Yam Yam logo - into some of the city’s malls.

Yam Yam is located at #69 Street 310. It is open every day from 6am to 9pm. Tel: 070 890 000 / 099 900 700.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four