The inaugural Long Beach Cambodian Restaurant Week launches March 19-26, 2023. “Long Beach Cambodian Restaurant Week will be a occasion to bring everyone to the table, from all walks of life, to showcase the city’s delicious Cambodian food scene.”
“Organized by United Cambodian Community of Long Beach (UCC) a California registered 501(c)3 non-profit, along with Chef “T” Visoth Ouk, a renowned Khmer chef and pillar of the local Cambodian community, Long Beach Cambodian Restaurant Week will be an eight day event devoted to celebrating Cambodian and Southeast Asian fare in and around Long Beach. The event also seeks to highlight Cambodian-owned food businesses as well as Cambodian chefs and bartenders.”
“Long Beach is home to the largest community of Cambodians outside of the country itself, many refugees settling in Long Beach after escaping the Khmer Rouge regime genocide of the late 1970s. The city’s own ‘Cambodia Town’ is a bustling collection of eateries, shops and retailers.”
Shlap Muan (Khmer for chicken wings,) one of the participating restaurants is the ambivalent creation of Hawk and Sophia Tea. It started out as a modest sandwich shop in San Francisco as a way for the young couple to escape the corporate grind.
“Hawk grew up working in his parent’s restaurant in Long Beach. Like most immigrant families looking to make a future for their children, his parents worked 7 days a week in a small Chinese-Cambodian restaurant. This meant all their children had to help out. Hawk remembers the long grinding hours and literal back breaking work. He promised himself well into his 20’s that he would never again work in a restaurant.”
Never “say never…” “Fast forward to 2018 and Hawk and Sophia both quit their jobs and opened a restaurant. The early going was rough. The Teas had a good sandwich, but not great. They had to do something that would separate them from all the other food establishments in San Francisco’s Financial District. Sophia suggested chicken wings.”
“Right away, it reminded Hawk of his dad’s chicken wings. Crispy, crunchy, juicy wings that were never oily. Hawk’s father’s wings had this wonderful sweet and spicy flavor that just brought him so many good memories. The flavors at Shlap Muan are all original to Hawk. His fondest childhood memories all revolved around cooking and eating Cambodian and Chinese foods. As Shlap Muan evolves, it always humbles and reminds Hawk of the happiness food brings to people.”
Hawk Tea joins us to preview Long Beach Cambodian Restaurant Week with a plate of signature wings seasoned with Spicy Cambodian Dirt at the ready.