One of the greatest joys of travel is discovering the local food specialties and eating out in different styles. This can be doubly terrific when you know your dining is helping to support and benefit formerly disadvantaged people. Intrepid makes a point of seeking out truly fair trade restaurants and cafes, and in all the following wonderful examples the food and friendly service will not disappoint!
Where’s the best food in Asia? You’d be hard pressed to top the great choices in Cambodia:
- Starfish Bakery and Cafe in Sihanoukville has famous brownies and cookies along with light meals. All the staff and outreach workers have some kind of physical disability which would make it difficult for them to find employment elsewhere, and at Starfish they are truly abled!
- Friends, Romdeng and Le Café are all in Phnom Penh and operate under the Mith Samlanh / Friends NGO umbrella. Former street children are taught the fundamental principles of hospitality and produce the most wonderful food. Deep fried tarantulas with lime, Western-style tapas, delicious frozen daiquiris and unlimited Khmer smiles! Their fabulous award-winning cookbooks make a great souvenir too. Click here for opening times and reservations.
- Green Star in Siem Reap was established to support ‘The Green Gecko Project’ – helping house, educate and support over 70 former street kids. For traditional Khmer fare, you can’t go past the tasty fresh fried corn and the famous Lok Lak. For about $5 you will have a two course feast!
- In Laos, our friends at the not-for-profit Friends, have another training restaurant: Makphet means chilli in Lao and you have spicy choices with modern Lao food as well as great shakes and cocktails, all prepared by former street youth in training.
- Thailand’s ‘Cabbages and Condoms’ takes a different angle. The Population and Community Development Association (PDA) was founded to provide information on family planning, and their restaurants in Sukhumvit in Bangkok and in the north near Chiang Rai, help to support their activities, and their food is “guaranteed not to cause pregnancy”! The food’s great, but beware of those little packets at the exit – they are NOT after dinner mints!
- Vietnam’s KOTO is a huge favourite amongst Intrepid travellers. With training restaurants operated by former street kids, in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City – they’ve had extraordinary success in bringing more than 300 Vietnamese youth out of poverty and on their way into successful careers. Whether it’s Vietnamese or Western food you’re after, there’s plenty of delicious choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Moving continents, we’ll finish this short story with one last terrific commendation:
- Heart’s Cafe in Peru – is very central in the charming village of Ollantaytambo, at the gateway to the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. Their delicious fare is doubly nutritious – satisfying travellers with Quechan style and Western offerings, and bringing benefits to the people of impoverished highland communities. Good nutrition is at the heart of their health education programs.
The Intrepid Foundation – travellers making a difference
In addition to visiting the above restaurants while on Intrepid trips, you can help support many of these great organisations via the Intrepid Foundation, plus find out how your donation can be matched* by Intrepid Travel!
* Donations will be matched by Intrepid Travel up to AU$5000 (or equivalent) per donor and a total of AU$400,000 each financial year.
* photo by Anne Hallgreen – Intrepid Photography Competition