A Malaysian franchise specialising in cakes, called Secret Recipe, has opened three outlets so far in Phnom Penh, with two more in the planning stages.
The three locations are loc-ally owned by chef Luu Meng, of the Almond Hotel, in partnership with Oknha Ly Heng through their Faba Group.
They constitute the Cambodian presence of the Secret Recipe chain, which has more than 300 restaurants in Asia, including 143 in Malaysia, and a growing number of outlets in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Australia and soon in Myanmar.
The first Secret Recipe opened on Monivong in January, followed by one at the Souvanna Shopping Center and finally one further down Kampuchea Krom in March. The Monivong branch was formerly the Sentiment Café.
Secret Recipe’s project director for Cambodia, Ahmad Anuar B. Mohd Daud, says another outlet will open in the first quarter of 2014 as part of the new Aeon mall now under construction adjacent to Sofitel and yet another probably in Siem Reap.
Secret Recipe outlets are open from 7am to 10pm and serve three meals a day, Mohd Daud says.
Breakfasts are based on noodles and cost about $3.50. Lunch is the busiest meal of the day, according to Mohd Daud.
“We follow the recipes 100 per cent, from the franchise. It is all done locally. We sent eight of our guys to Malaysia to learn how to do it,” he said.
There’s Greek salad for $3, mushroom soup for $2, Cambodian fried rice for $3.50. Other menu items include chicken lasagna for $4 and tom yum spaghetti for $4.50. There are also brownies and chicken pies as well as a full range of cakes for $2.90 a slice including several types of cheese cakes.
Whole cakes are sold for $33 each, and favourites include chocolate indulgence and durian cheesecake.
“We have begun to position ourselves very well in the cake market,” Moud Daud said. “People will buy a birthday cake and have them mostly at home. We are also trying to encourage people to have the cake here in our place.”
Other cake types include marble cheesecake, tiramisu, banana cake, New York cheese cake, black forest, cheese chocolate and blueberry cheesecake.
Moud Daud says the Secret Recipe franchise insists on the arrival of suppliers before 8 am to deliver the goods and the meat must arrive refrigerated.
“We impose the quality on the suppliers and the major suppliers are able to deliver to this high standard,” he said
The ingredients for all the cakes are brought in from Malaysia and the cakes for all the outlets are made at a secured facility in Tuol Kork.
“Secret recipe is a good model. We have Asian food plus the western cake on top of that,” Moud Doud said. “This is casual, all-day family dining for a relaxed meal.”
For coffee there is a brand from Switzerland called Chicco D’oro. Coffee machines are also sold.
Chef Luu Meng said the current situation of coffee culture was a good sign in developing Cambodia.
“Cambodians are starting to talk about coffee and a lot of Cambodians are drinking Ice coffee and the business continues to grow: foreigners are drinking ice milk coffee from the UK, from the US and Italy,” Luu Meng said. “Cambodians are working harder for a better lifestyle. An indication of that is a willingness to spend as much as $4 on a cup of coffee.
“This means they’re getting more income.”
Luu Meng says part of coffee culture is a kind of licence for conversation.
“When you have a cup of coffee with someone, it opens a conversation for business. More and more people want a hot coffee to kick off the day. I think the future in this business will only grow, especially when you have the choice of all types of coffee.”