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Tel: (+855) 12 777 990 / 012 699 994
E-mail: mamakcorner.halal@gmail.com

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Mamak's Corner Halal Food
MAMAK stalls are a common sight in our country but in Cambodia, there’s only one such place. Even the trade name “Mamak’s Corner beckoning along downtown Phnom Penh is a welcome sight to home-sick Malaysians, especially for nasi kandar enthusiasts.

Besides enjoying the patronage of many Malaysians in Phnom Penh, Mamak’s Corner has the distinction of being the only Malaysian eatery listed in Travel Surowal Kit Cambodia – a backpackager” bible – by Chris Taylor, Daniel Robinson and Tony Wheeler (of Asia on a Shoe-string fame).

The Lonely Planet publication depicts Mamak’s Corner as “Good place for roticanai and teh tarik. Décor minimal but food authentic. It’s possible to eat well here for US3 (about RM11)”.

The one and only Mamak restaurant in Cambodia is operated by Mohd Ismail Ganesan Abdullah, 37, who first went to Phnom Penh as a cook with acatering company in 1992.

After working with the company for only three months, he saw an opportunity to go into business for himself. Ismail resigned and returned to Kuala Lumpur. “I was back in Phnom Penh less than three onths later, with my savings of about US800 (RM3,000) and about RM500 worth of curry powder, ikan bilis, dry chillies, petai, several kinds of spies as well as tea and coffee powder as my stock capital,” he said.
At first he set up a small roadside stall behind the Pailin Hotel, selling breakfast items like roti canai with dalea, nasi lemak, lontong and beef rending besides his coffee and teh tarik.

There were many Malaysian military and police personnel serving under the United Nations Transitionary Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) then.
And my business picked up quickly after they tasted my cooking, said Ismail who used to help at his father’s rice stall near the Jalan Damai-Jalan Ampang junction in Kuala Lumpur.

Life was however not easy as he had to be up at 4:00 am everyday to cook and be at his stall to catch the breakfast crowd by 6:00 am. From 11:00 am to 2:00 pm be would catch a few hours of sleep.

Then he would go marketing for fresh supplies to cook for his evening business from 6:00pm to 2:00am.
Despite his hectic life, Ismail was however lucky enough to find love in a Cambodian less named Shiela.

The couple who got married in 1994, have two children – a girl named Synary, aged eight, and a boy, Ismadi, aged five.
Things went on smoothly for Ismail and his family until the peace in Phnom Penh was shattered in July 1997 because of a power struggle by the two co-premiers in the country then.

As fighting escalated, Ismail and his family managed to join other Malaysians who were evacuated from Phnom Penh.
Three  weeks later, Ismail and his family returned to Phnom Penh, only to find that his stall had beed looted and demolished. His pots, pands, crockery and supplies had also been stolen.

Disheartened but undaunted, Ismail and his family roughted it out for more than a week, walking around the city till he found a sall suitable shoplot at a rental of US400 (about RM1,520) per month.

It was here that Ismail rebuilt his ‘Mamak Corner’ – a trade name he kept although the business was no longer just a street-corner stall, but a small coffee shop-restaurant in an intermediate shoplot.

Although business  has been rather slow since the ‘civil war’ and the Asian economic turnoil, things are beginning to pick up again, and Mamak’s Corner now enjoys a turnover of about US300 (about RM1,140) a day.

His clientele has also expanded to include Thais, Indonesians, Singaporeans, Japanese and even some Europeans and Americans, who especially love his name briani  served ever Friday.
Mamak’s Corner is situated at No. 18, Street. 114, Sangkat Phsar Thmey I, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh. Ismail can be contacted at Tel: (+855) 12 777 990 / 012 699 994.
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