Taste History at Golden Wat Noodle House


Take one bite of any dish from Golden Wat Noodle House and bask in the subtle complexity of its flavors, with ginger, galangal, lemongrass, a bit of fish sauce and several other notes deepening the sensation but never overwhelming the palate.

Each dish is sheer beauty in a bowl, a gift to San Antonio—and a testament to the human spirit that arose out of a brutal time that most Americans only know from history books, if at all. In the mid-1970s, as American eyes shifted from Southeast Asia after the end of the Vietnam War, the Khmer Rouge took power in neighboring Cambodia and embarked on a campaign of slaughter that ultimately killed some 2 million Cambodians.

Among those who fled were the parents of Golden Wat’s Susan Kaars-Sypesteyn. Her mother, Sokhom Chhuon, had a noodle shop in Phnom Penh and because her parents were entrepreneurs, they feared the Khmer Rouge would eventually come for them. “My parents were able to hide gold and able to trade and make their way to Thailand,” Kaars-Sypesteyn says. “They wrote a letter to the U.S. government and were sponsored by an American family to come over in the ’80s.”

As immigrants, they faced challenges adjusting to the culture and spent their first two years living on nothing but rice. Kaars-Sypesteyn was born and grew up in California speaking Khmer and eating Cambodian food, but feeling like her native culture was less than that of her country.

“When we grew up, we were almost ashamed of being Cambodian,” she says. “In this time, when everybody feels like they have a voice, Cambodian food, Cambodian culture can stand on its own. We can have our own identity right now. I want to remind people we are not like anyone else. Our culture and our people are survivors and we have a rich culture that should be showcased.”

Kaars-Sypesteyn and her husband Pieter Sypesteyn, the well-known chef behind Cookhouse, NOLA Brunch & Beignets and Bud’s Southern Rotisserie, usually eat Cambodian dishes at home with their four children and say they found the food especially comforting during the uncertainty of 2020. They shared a few recipes in their temporary Cookhouse at Home meal kit service and decided if there was ever a time to try something new, this year was it.

To test the concept, they launched the Golden Wat pop-up inside Cookhouse over the summer that proved so successful they’re hosting monthly one-day pop-ups through the end of the year with plans for a standalone location in early 2021. Says Pieter, “This is a great time to tell Susan’s side of the story of how we build community and share a little more of ourselves.”

Golden Wat Noodle House Pop-Ups

Oct.  21 at Cookhouse

goldenwatnoodlehouse.com



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