Cambodian woman finds success selling Thai stir-fried ice cream
A Cambodian woman has found success by selling Thai-style stir-fried ice cream in her country. The woman, Ouk Chanvoleak, learned how to make the dessert in Thailand before opening her business on Pub Street in Siem Reap in 2014.
The street food, also known as rolled ice cream, grew popular in Thailand around 2012.
However, starting the business was not easy for Ouk. She needed to spend US$4,000 to purchase the necessary machine to make the stir-fried ice cream. Initially, she didn’t have a place to operate from and would move around with a cart connected to a motorcycle. Now, she operates from a small stall next to a busy thoroughfare near Pub Street.
Ouk has become known for her agility in frying ice cream on a metal plate, as well as the colourful hues of the ice cream made from fruits. Passers-by often stop to watch her make the dessert and try it for themselves.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Ouk could earn between 200,000 (1,700 baht) to 600,000 riel per night (5,150 baht), she told Phnom Penh Post. But since the pandemic hit, the most she can earn is around 200,000 riel.
Ouk’s business has been an important source of income to support her family, especially her two children. Ouk said the profits from her business are about 40% after deducting expenses, which is enough to support her children’s education.
Ouk operates the business from 3pm until midnight or later, as Pub Street is often busiest late at night and into the early morning.
However, Ouk faces the same challenge as many other business owners in Siem Reap – her business depends heavily on tourists. When there are no tourists, she makes little money. Despite the challenges, Ouk is hopeful that tourist numbers will rebound next high season and plans to expand her business to more locations as her children grow older.
Thai stir-fried ice cream started to trend among Thailand’s neighbouring countries in 2012. The ice cream is served with several toppings, including fruit, cookies, and brownies.
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