Come rain or shine, this husband and wife donut duo never move from just outside the Bokor Cinema on Mao Tse Toung Boulevard. They’ve always got a customer or four hanging around which generally bodes well. I’m almost embarrassed when I drop in because I see them every day on my way to work and am yet to purchase a single deep-fried product from them. Through sheer weight of luck, I happened upon them when they were cutting up a fresh batch. The process is as follows:
Thirdly, cut into strips, paying attention not to accidentally remove your enormous, decorative thumbnail in the process. Roll into flat disks and dust with a few sesame seeds. Hand over to your wife, the deep frying expert.
I’m glad that I didn’t drop in earlier as I’d probably be about ten kilos heavier by now. These yeasty pillows are packed with chewy deliciousness: hollow to the core, only slightly sweet, and blisteringly hot out of the fryer. Sadly, I didn’t get the Khmer name for them, although I had a longer than usual, Beckettian interrogation of the vendors that ran along these lines:
Phil: What are these?
Vendor: (Nervous laugh) You understand Khmer.
Phil: Yes. A little. What are these?
Vendor: Yes. Bread.
Phil: Fried bread?
Vendor: Yes. Fried bread.
Phil: Are they chaway*? or fried bread?
Vendor: I don’t have any chaway.
Phil: Yes, I understand. What are these?
Phil: (Clutches head in hands)
Location: Just west of Bokor Cinema, near the corner of St. 95 and Mao Tse Toung Boulevard, Phnom Penh
* – Chaway are the donuts that you often have with soup, similar to the Chinese donuts that you eat with congee.
Addendum (21 June 2006): As a very weird aside, according to AsianWeek in 2000, 90 percent of California’s independent doughnut stores are owned by Cambodian expats.