Chowing Down on Tarantulas for a Good Cause in Cambodia

I have always taken a bit of sadistic pride in watching my groups squirm when I talk about the wackiest local food available. One of Cambodia’s specialties is fried tarantula, specially imported from Kompong Cham province (also Kampong Cham). What makes the tarantula experience even more incredible is where I take my groups to eat it: Phnom Penh‘s extraordinary Romdeng restaurant.

Tarantulas? This entree could be out some of the dishes featured in the 5 Oddest Eating Contests in the World.

Fried TarantulasChow Down at Romdeng Restaurant in Phnom Penh for a Good Cause

This is no ordinary restaurant. Romdeng is only one venture of Mith Samlanh‘s many programs. As a non-profit, non-government and non-denominational organization, Mith Samlanh’s mission is to restore safety, health, dignity and education to Cambodian street children. At Romdeng they receive training in the culinary and service arts, thus giving them the means to raise income for themselves.

The restaurant’s atmosphere is wonderful and the food delicious (and that includes the tarantula). On a warm Phnom Penh evening you can take advantage of the open terrace dining area, and the interior adorned with paintings by the trainees themselves is incredibly welcoming and peaceful. War-torn Cambodia needs more support for grass roots organizations such as Mith Samlanh.

Tarantula Experience More than Just a Good Travel Story

Because of Cambodia’s horrific genocide during the Khmer Rouge times of the late 1970s, the population is amazingly unbalanced: more than half of Cambodia’s people are under the age of 18 and more than a third of its population lives on less than one dollar per day. Given the intense poverty of the country, the tarantula experience at Romdeng is more than just a good travel story.

Fried TarantulaIf you like the idea of chowing down for a good cause, then join Intrepid as we put our money where our mouth is and frequent many great restaurants and cafes in the regions we travel: KOTO in Hanoi, a successful hospitality training centre to keep kids off the streets; Baan Unrak where you can buy bread and weavings to assist the Thai orphanage and local school; Ananda and Modern Nomads restaurants in Ulaan Baatar where profits go to street kids and the Lotus children’s orphanage; and another great favorite in Cambodia is the Khmer Kitchen, a restaurant which helps support a local women’s group.

If the cuisine at Romdeng sounds a bit too challenging, then Friends restaurant is the perfect Phnom Penh alternative, as funds raised go to the same organization, Mith Samlanh, which helps an average of 1500 children per day rise above adversity.

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