MY PHNOM PENH: DANA LANGLOIS

Dana Langlois
Dana Langlois has been based in Phnom Penh since 1998 and opened the Java Cafe and Gallery in 2000.

MY PHNOM PENH: DANA LANGLOIS

Dana Langlois has been based in Phnom Penh since 1998 and opened the Java Cafe and Gallery in 2000. This week she spoke to Will Jackson about her love for Cambodian arts, and shared her picks for culture vultures in the city.

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YON DAVY
I was unfamiliar with Yon Davy’s work until recently when I saw the latest platform production by Amrita Performing Arts. I was blown away by her piece called I and Mine. It was an absolutely amazing piece of work. It was quite simple but very profound visually. She used this big screen on the stage, and as she approaches the screen, her shadow emerges on the screen, but very quickly you realise it’s another dancer because they’re not quite in sync, and as the performance goes on, they become less and less in sync and there’s actually this strange kind of conflict between the shadow and the dancer. You could tell as an artist, as a young choreographer, she really had an idea and focused on it intensively and pulled out this idea beautifully. aesthetically as a performance.

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TEN-PIN BOWLING
It’s totally pop culture, and my husband thinks it’s ridiculous, but I love 10-pin bowling. I was so glad when the Blu-o bowling lanes opened up at Aeon Mall. I take my kids and it’s great fun. I used to do it as a kid. I grew up in small-town America so bowling was the thing to do, that and rollerskating. Bowling brings back so many childhood memories.

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LY POLEN
Ly Polen, who recently won the Tropfest Southeast Asia short film competition, is a regular customer at Java. Apparently Java is like his studio, which is really funny to me. I had no idea who he was, I’d just see him here all the time, and then I found out he had won this award as a filmmaker. I haven’t actually seen his latest short, but Duetto, the short that came runner-up at last year’s Tropfest, is just fantastic. I’m pretty sure he worked on it at the cafe. The story is so charming. I think it comes down to – in a way similar to how I spoke about Yon Davy – taking a simple idea and doing it extremely well. Not over-complicating it. And this shows real artistic vision, from my point of view.

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‘MUMMA’S’ PLACE
There’s this place around the corner on Street 21 run by a woman. I always call her “the Mumma”. I can imagine going to anybody’s home whose mother or aunty is a good cook, and this is what you would get. It’s out of her house and super clean and it’s just fresh and delicious. I think I discovered it a year or so ago and she’s gotten bigger since then. She has about three or four dishes she puts in a little cart and you have to get there early because otherwise it’s finished by, like, 12:15pm. You have a few offices around here, and all of the office workers descend on this little restaurant and then eat everything. The fish ball soup is really yum – very peppery and nice. And there’s usually some stir fries. There’s a nice one where she uses pickles and pork.

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FEEL GOOD COFFEE BEANS
Our coffee bean supplier for Java Cafe is boutique roaster Feel Good. Their beans are organic and fresh and I really have a lot of faith in what they do. The owner is really committed to the beans: he goes to the farms himself, checks out how the beans are being grown and processed and everything. The blend we have is from Laos and Thailand. We’re working on a new blend that might bring in a Vietnamese bean as well. They’ve been trying to get a supply of Cambodian beans but the consistency is not there. We worked with the blend for a bit until we found something I liked. It’s kind of a lighter blend to what we used to serve and has kind of a nutty taste to it.

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