Hungry? Whether you are home, at the office or even in class, ordering and receiving food in Phnom Penh has never been easier. With a growing number of food delivery websites and apps on the market, ordering your favourite sushi, hamburger or amok dish is now only a few clicks away.
In fact, the market for online ordering and food delivery tools is booming, say insiders. Phnom Penh dwellers increasingly lack the time to cook their own meals and, with traffic jams becoming a more common occurrence, they are also more wary of hitting the streets, particularly in hot or rainy days.
Roeung Sarath, a driver for Nham24.com, a website that also has an app, says things have gotten a lot busier in the food delivery business since he started his current job.
In the last few years, he says, daily orders of food and drinks – especially coffee – have increased 20 fold. Driving a scooter fitted with a delivery box, he now works from eight in the morning to nine at night.
“Most of the customers are office workers and families ordering from home,” Mr Sarath says.
Nham24.com is partner to 400 restaurants, mostly in Phnom Penh, from smaller diners and fast food joints to upscale Khmer, Japanese and Chinese restaurants.
In fact, times are so propitious that they are now planning to expand beyond the capital and into the provinces, according to Vouch Leng, who takes customers orders at Nham24.com’s telephone service.
“People don’t have time anymore to prepare their own meals, so they just go on their smartphone or computer and place an order,” she says.
“With over 400 restaurants to choose from, they are bound to find what they are craving, and using online food delivery options just saves them a lot of time.”
Nham24.com charges a $1 fee for every delivery – up to $3 if the customer’s location is far away. Clients can pay cash on delivery or using e-payment tools Pi Pay and Wing.
Other players in the country’s food delivery business include Meal Temple and Yourphnompenh.com, with some of them having been around as early as 2010.
To make their food and drink menus accessible from anywhere in the city, Park Cafe and Brown Coffee have launched their own delivery services.
Heng Sengly, Park Cafe’s general manager, told Khmer Times that their online ordering and delivery service is more popular among the younger generations.
“For some outlets, we have reached maximum capacity in terms of customers,” he says. “Sometimes we just don’t have the space, and clients rather leave than wait for a table to become available, so a food delivery service was a good option for us.”
“Traffic is also a factor. Many of our regular customers rather stay inside than brave traffic jams to dine in a Park Cafe.
“Also, during the rainy season, we usually experience a drop in walk-in customers. Many just order from home,” he says, adding that they chose to start they own service, rather than rely on a third party, to make sure their products are treated properly during the delivery.
Bo Sophanith, an office worker, says he usually uses online food delivery tools for her lunch meals.
“Now everyone has a smartphone, so it is easy to purchase goods online,” he says, noting that he started purchasing his meals online only recently, despite the fact that he has been buying shoes and clothes on the Internet for many years.
“For me a timely delivery is not as important as the quality of the goods delivered,” he says. “The same applies to the delivery of food.”
Intrigued by the many possibilities of this relatively novel service and thriving market, Yoeun Visoth, the owner of a restaurant in Sras Chok district, is now looking for a food delivery company to partner up with.
“I have heard delivery services are booming in Phnom Penh,” he says. “I am considering working with a food delivery company if my business continues to do well in the future.”