Having been praised by her family and friends for her talent in cooking, a fan of battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) has combined her kitchen skills and her passion for gaming into a small restaurant.
Mo Za named her restaurant PUBG Street Food after the game that has proved a smash hit among young Cambodian smartphone users since it was released in 2017.
Located in a typical apartment in Phnom Penh Thmei commune, PUBG Street Food is decorated in distinctively military fashion with wallpaper depicting the game’s characters, toy guns, bombs and camouflage backpacks and caps.
“I decorated this place all by myself. The maps, the fake guns and these PUBG gifts are ordered from overseas,” says Za, who opened her restaurant in early April. "It will have more PUBG elements in the restaurant when the other merchandise arrives – some were custom made.”
A typically male dominated realm, the 20-year-old restaurant owner is herself a huge fan of the online multiplayer game that was ranked as the App Store’s best last year.
“I’m a PUBG player and I like it a lot. I personally think that it is even more popular this year than last year. It’s hugely popular around the globe. I named my restaurant after it because the game is so trendy among young people,” Za says.
The battle royale game – in which the last survivor of a gun battle over an open world map is declared the winner – has more than 360 million downloads worldwide, despite a ban in some nations like Nepal for its violence.
And in Cambodia, the game took off and gripped the imaginations of young people, who can regularly be seen sitting in groups playing it on their smartphones. Now, PUBG Street Food has become one such spot in which young patrons congregate in groups of three or four to play while waiting for their food to arrive.
The menu features snack options and main meals, ranging from Khmer deep-fried meatballs to spicy Thai and Vietnamese food.
The Thai influenced dishes include spicy crab, Thai-style shrimp in chilli sauce, fried baby octopus and pork ribs sprinkled with green chilli. While Vietnamese offerings include noodle dishes banh rieu, banh hoi and fresh spring rolls, to name a few.
Za created her menu based on her travel experiences to neighbouring countries and learned how to cook them from Google searches and Youtube videos.
“What makes our dishes stand out are the three choices of sauce made from shrimp paste, green Koh Kong sauce and red Koh Kong sauce. I can say they are the stars that make our menu shine, based on a lot of feedback from my customers,” she says.
In contrast to the thoroughly millennial theme of her restaurant, Za prefers to serve her food in a traditional style.
“We don’t use plates to serve our dish. We prefer using a traditional woven bamboo basket and banana leaves. Our food is not ready made, we only prepare it to order and our vegetables are fresh and clean,” she says.
On weekdays, most of the custoemrs are high school and university students, and sitting among them is Py Seth, a major PUBG fan.
“I like to come here with my friends when we have free time so we can play games together and eat afterwards,” the 18-year-old says.
"I like the various options of meatballs and seafood. The taste is good and the price is reasonable.”
PUBG Street Food is located near Phnom Penh Thmei commune’s Chhouk Meas Market in Phnom Penh.
Za can be contact by the restaurant’s Facebook page (@PUBGstreetfood) and or telephone (070 221 197).