Neighborhood Kitchens

Meet Simply Khmer Chefs Sam Neang and Denise Ban

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simply khmer
Sam Neang and Denise Ban are the owners of Simply Khmer. Sam is the head chef and Denise is the resident spring roll expert. (Patricia Alvarado/WGBH)

Both Sam Neang and Denise Ban fled Cambodia as children during the genocidal reign of the Khmer Rouge, during which an estimated two million Cambodians died. Both spent years in refugee camps in Thailand before eventually making their way to the United States. They met in Lowell in 1987 when Sam’s mother was hired to plan Denise’s sister’s wedding. They married in 1990.
 

The idea to open a restaurant came from Sam and Denise’s friends and family. Nearly every weekend the couple would host get-togethers at their house and cook for 20-30 people. Their guests would always comment on how good their cooking was and would suggest that they open a restaurant together.  At first they didn’t even consider the idea, but then one day a realtor brought an available space to their attention and they decided to just take a look. The couple ended up falling in love all over agian — this time with the idea of cooking together. They opened up Simply Khmer in 2008. 
 
Since then Simply Khmer has earned a reputation for serving delicious and authentic Cambodian food. It receives rave reviews from the Boston Globe and been featured on the Travel Channel.

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Watch Neighborhood Kitchens online to learn more about Simply Khmer in Lowell.

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About Neighborhood Kitchens

Building on a 35-year history of producing Latino and multicultural programming, WGBH’s award winning La Plaza team has a new offering — Neighborhood Kitchens, a series about the exploration of culture through food. Every week the show offers a unique window into immigrant communities in New England.

Saturdays at 4pm on WGBH 2
Fridays at 7:30pm on WGBH 44


About the Author

On the Go

In each episode, host Margarita Martínez visits a different ethnic restaurant and learns three delicious recipes from the chef. She also explores the restaurant’s neighborhood, discovering hidden gems along the way. Join her as she learns about new ingredients, new cultures, and new neighborhoods. ¡Hasta pronto!

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Margarita's Neighborhood Visits

»Boston: Bristol Lounge
»Boston's South End: Orinoco, Teranga and Oishii
»Boston's Back Bay: Casa Romero
»Boston's North End: Taranta
»Roxbury: Merengue
»Boston's Beacon Hill: Scampo
»All Around Boston: Mei Mei Street Kitchens
»Cambridge: Muqueca, Oleana, and Sandrine's
»
Somerville: Dosa Temple
»Lawrence: Cafe Azteca
»Lowell: Simply Khmer

»Fresh from the Fish Market
»Jamaica Plain: Tres Gatos
»Dorchester: Pho Le and Cafe Polonia
»Medford: Bistro 5
»Portland, ME: Emilitsa
»Newport, RI: Tallulah on Thames
»Pawtucket, RI: Rasoi

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