During my trip to South East Asia most of my meals came from street vendors and markets, where all the best food in Asia is. However, sometimes you’ll feel like retreating into the air conditioning so why not try these not for profit restaurants that train former street children in hospitality and English to give them a fresh start at life.
Good food, good cause… what’s not to like?
KOTO (Know One Teach One) is an organisation providing vocational training in catering to former street children, in Hanoi, Vietnam. Students learn both English language and hospitality skills as well as the essential life skills that these provide. The restaurant has grown to incorporate 120 seats and includes a changing menu of both Western and Vietnamese food and believe me, either choice will be delicious! If you’re interested in cooking, they also run morning and evening classes specialising in Vietnamese cuisine. Recently opening a new restaurant in Saigon, the project is going from strength to strength as it is now an internationally recognised restaurant. I can highly recommend it, so why not pop in for a meal whilst in Vietnam?
STREETS Restaurant Cafe
If your adventure takes you to central Vietnam, another option is the STREETS Restaurant Cafe in Hoi An. The young people working here divide their time between classroom learning and hands on experience in the restaurant, training them up to a standard that many take on to new jobs in the hotel and catering industries. Try the acclaimed Hoi An Tasting Menu that offers a selection of local dishes exclusive to the area. You’ll be ordering more by the minute!
Friends The Restaurant (part of TREE)
Venture over the Cambodian border to Phnom Penh and you can settle down for lunch in Friends The Restaurant for some Mediterranean nibbles or, if you want to stay local, Romdeng for some Cambodian fare. Both are run by the same not for profit organisation, TREE (Training Restaurants for Employment and Entrepreneurship). They specialise in training young people, not only in the restaurant business but also in social programs to guarantee their secure future. And if you’re looking for some delicious and traditional food, it is definitely the place to be! TREE also has a restaurant in Vientiane so why not have a look in during your Laos Holiday.
These are just three examples but there are sure to be a wealth of similar organisations around South East Asia. It is such a good way to support the local communities you visit and help ensure the children and young adults attain the future they deserve (not to mention it tastes great!)