Award-winning Cuisine Wat Damnak is preparing to reopen its original Siem Reap home after a pandemic-fuelled closure, and its founders predict a rush of tourists to the province in late-2022 for the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon.
Nguon Vengchhay, co-founder of Cuisine Wat Damnak, the first Khmer restaurant to make it onto Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, serves a fusion Khmer food, cooked in European style. He told Kiripost on Tuesday that he plans to reopen the Siem Reap branch in the next few days.
“Since the lockdown, we closed the Siem Reap restaurant and opened the Phnom Penh branch instead. We noticed that the Siem Reap branch had been running smoothly for about 10 years already since 2011, so we decided to expand,” he said.
On December 9, 2021, the award-winning restaurant expanded to the capital after its successful 10-year stint in Siem Reap was halted by Covid-19. Despite the government announcing it will welcome fully vaccinated tourists to Cambodia in November 2021, Cuisine Wat Damnak was unable to open immediately.
Vengchhay said as the restaurant remained closed for a long period of time, it will take a few months to prepare to once again welcome guests. However, he remains confident Siem Reap will see a rush of tourists by the end of the year, prompted by a series of major events scheduled to be held across the province, including the popular Angkor Wat International Half Marathon.
“Before we reopen our restaurant, we need to spend more time to broaden our teamwork and we need to spend around a few months to train our new staff as well,” the co-founder said.
He added, “I think if we open immediately, there will still be a limited number of tourists. Therefore, if we can reopen our restaurant by the end of this year, I think it’s such a good chance as there will be many extensive events, like the marathon and other events. We realize that Siem Reap also lacks a good place like us.”
The 27th Angkor Wat International Half Marathon will be celebrated in Siem Reap province on Sunday, December 4, according to a post on the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon’s Facebook page.
Located in a traditional Cambodian wooden house in the heart of Siem Reap, Cuisine Wat Damnak offers three distinct dining experiences. Downstairs, the modern dining room is a stylish, air-conditioned space decorated with local artwork and handicrafts. The international standard restaurant will welcome customers from Saturday, October 1.