Food Phnom-enal | Short Orders Blog

What do you know of Cambodia? Can you even find it on a map? This Southeast Asian country and its cuisine is often overshadowed by its more familiar neighbors Thailand and Vietnam. A local food pop-up aims to end Cambodia’s darkness and bring its culture and food creations into the mainstream of Richmond’s food scene. Thanks to co-owners Vanna Hem and Adam Stull, Richmond locals no longer need their passports to get a taste of Cambodia at the Royal Pig – the food pop-up is proud to offer a menu with no spice levels, no mods, no frills, all flavors.

The idea for a food concept to bring the flavors of Phnom Penh (capital of Cambodia) to the capital of Virginia began in 2018. As is the origin story with many new food businesses in the city , the two founders of Royal Pig first became good friends across town. food scene. Readers may recognize Hem behind the bar at Can Can’s Brasserie or Stull when he was serving drinks at the opening of Postbellum.

Thanks to the duo’s talent for cooking and the Cambodian influence of Hem’s mother and grandmother, the initial transition from behind the bar to the kitchen was relatively smooth. It makes sense that Hem’s career would turn to traditional Cambodian cuisine given his childhood love for his family’s dishes. The whole thing is a bit in honor of his hunger: “My grandmother always called me her royal pig,” says Hem.

Thanks to the support of friends and the restaurant community, Royal Pig was created in August 2019 at Cask Café. The duo’s first attempt at a fleeting dinner party was a bit of a bumpy one. “It was a typical, humid day in Richmond and the air conditioning broke,” Hem recalled. “We ran out of rice, so my wife ran to Mom’s Siam to buy as much as she could get.”

Click to enlarge

  • Photo courtesy of Royal Pig
  • Your next chance to try out the duo’s Cambodian creations will be on Monday, March 7 at Live.Hot.Noodz.

Despite the challenges, the experience left them feeling vindicated. Their very first pop-up featured a full house, food was flying out of the kitchen and the demand for their Cambodian dishes was clearly demonstrated. Over the next two years, Stull and Hem hosted a series of pop-ups at impressive Richmond establishments including The Broken Tulip, The Jasper, Secco Wine Bar, Bingo Beer Company and Brambly Park Winery.

The gentlemen behind the Royal Pig credit their success to the fresh recipes and flavors that helped fuel Hem’s childhood hunger. The menu leans heavily on common Cambodian ingredients and seasonings such as galangal root (a cousin of ginger), fish sauce, kaffir limes, and kroeung (a kind of curry paste).

People looking to start with something familiar should start their meal with the Cambodian fried rice – a bestseller thanks to the crispy and juicy slices of char siu pork on top. Beloved by vegetarians and vegans, papaya salad mixes slices of this underripe fruit with plum tomatoes, lime, cilantro and garlic. If you want to try something you won’t find anywhere else in Richmond, go for the Cambodian charcuterie of homemade pork sausages, chicken ham, pickled mustard greens, and more. For dessert, their mango sticky rice will never do you any harm.

No matter what’s on the menu right now, Hem and Stull wants to offer the perfect balance between authentic and affordable dishes. Until their new Hatch Food Hall location opens later this spring, readers’ next chance to try the duo’s Cambodian creations will be March 7 at Live.Hot.Noodz. – a Royal Pig takeover of Black Lodge at Scott’s Addition. In the absence of reservations or pre-orders on this pop-up, don’t be shy and get ready to stuff yourself royally!

Back To Top