Cambodia-based NGO Friends-International has opened Khaiphaen restaurant, its sixth training restaurant and vocational school, and their second in Laos.
Named after the tasty local snack of fried Mekong River weed, Khaiphaen will give marginalized and at-risk youth the chance to receive professional restaurant training, safe accommodation and counseling, including work placement support after they graduate from the 18-month program. Khaiphaen was funded by the 2013 Luang Prabang Half Marathon, which raised over $120,000 to open the vocational training restaurant from scratch. Currently nine teachers guide 21 students ranging from 15 to 24 years of age – some of them coming from villages over four hours away. The students will receive hands on experience in food, beverage and service, developing confidence and skills highly sought after in Luang Prabang’s bustling hospitality and tourism industry.
Located between the French Institute and the Mekong River, Khaiphaen is open Monday to Saturday 11am to 10:30pm (kitchen closes at 9.30pm). The other TREE Alliance outlets include Makphet in the Laotian capital of Vientiane, the two restaurants in Phnom Penh, Friends and Romdeng, Marum in Siem Reap and Sandan in Sihanoukville. All profits from the six TREE restaurants are invested in the students who train there and the social programs which support them on their journey to becoming a skilled, productive and happy young person with a more secure future. Definitely recommended.