In the heart of downtown Phnom Penh, a convenient distance from many of the obligatory stops on the tourist circuit, lies the aptly-amicable Friends Restaurant, serving generous portions of traditional and experimental Khmer-fusion tapas dishes in a brightly decorated, warm ambience. This place isn’t just about great fishcakes with lime jus, spicy mango salads and mouth-watering satay skewers, however. You notice a special smile, a concerted effort on behalf of the staff, and it soon becomes apparent why.
Friends serves as a training ground and employment opportunity for former street children in Phnom Penh who, having been given a help up by the NGO of the same name, are now being offered a new life and, once old enough, a career in the hospitality industry, away from the streets and the dangers associated with them.
Better yet, all funds from the restaurant go to the kids’ support and training. With an ethical policy like that, and fabulous food to boot, it’s time to order another fresh raspberry daiquiri and toast this unique innovation in urban social regeneration.