“There’s not a lot of Cambodian restaurants or Cambodian chefs [in the US],” notes chef Nite Yun — a 2018 Eater Young Gun and the owner of Nyum Bai in Oakland, California. The realization came to Yun while she was living in San Francisco and missing her mom’s cooking, immediately inspiring her to learn to prepare those dishes for herself.
She began by calling her mom who would share all her recipes, and then by traveling around Cambodia, visiting her grandmother and learning more about Cambodian culture — that’s when she decided to open Nyum Bai.
And though Yun accepts the responsibility of representing Cambodian cuisine in the States, she’s hopeful for the first generation and second generation Cambodians who are reconnecting with their roots again through food. For now, she’s thankful for a place where she can cook up the food that she grew up eating, and share it with all of Oakland.