How does a gourmet Prawn Tom Yum soup enjoyed in the comfort of your home sound? You’ll need river prawns, tomatoes, carrots, green peppers, mushrooms, garlic, wild onions, galangal, lemongrass, fried chillies and chervil.
Typically that would require a trip to the market, but not anymore. Bonle Srok, a new online marketplace, offers fresh ingredients delivered to your doorstep for a host of meals.
For housewives with too much on their plate with work and caring for their children, Bonle Srok offers the chance to prepare restaurant-quality meals simply by placing an online order or making a phone call.
Neary Ratanak, the 30-year-old co-founder of Bonle Srok, says: “I want to make it easier for housewives to shop for their daily food ingredients without thinking too much about what food they are cooking. Now they do not need to go shopping and can avoid crowds.”
The fresh Tom Yum set costs 23,000 riel ($5.62). Bonle Srok offers a wide variety of other dishes as well, including the Seafood Tom Yum set (23,000riel), the fresh prawn Vietnamese sour soup set (23,000 riel), Pangasius djambal sour soup (13,000 riel), fried green pepper (10,000 riel), fried kale (10,000 riel), wax gourd soup (10,000 riel), beef sour soup (13,000 riel) and several Khmer fresh food sets.
Ratanak says: “A set of prepared food including fresh vegetables, fish or other meat with some supplemental ingredients is enough for a small family with three or four members. We bring the products to the customer’s doorstep and once they wash it again, it’s ready to be cooked.”
Bonle Srok, which translates to “local vegetables” in Khmer was created by Ratanak, a goods distributor, and her younger sister Neary Ratana, an architect. They say the new e-market is especially valuable during the Covid-19 pandemic because people are afraid of public places where they may contract the virus.
The online marketplace opened in April.
“We dreamt of doing something for a long time but we had no chance. We started Bonle Srok, or Local Vegetables, to deliver products to peoples’ front door,” says Ratanak.
She says food delivery services are on the rise since people are concerned about their safety and would prefer not to gather in public places like restaurants, shops and markets.
The sisters hired two deliverymen who pack the products and transport them on motorbikes to homes around Phnom Penh. Each driver can handle four or five orders at a time.
Ratanak says, for the time being, Bonle Srok is focused on serving the capital.
“The reason we deliver in Phnom Penh rather than in our Takhmao town is that there are many markets around here, Ratanak says.
“But people in Phnom Penh live far from markets, are busy with their work and try to keep their social distance.”
The fresh vegetables on Bonle Srok’s menu come from local farmers along the Tonle Bassac River in Sa’ang district in Kandal province and Prey Svar village in Takeo province. Fish, pork, beef, chicken, duck and other seafood is provided from local markets.
Each item is photographed and neatly arranged on a menu in both Khmer and English on the company’s Facebook page. Prices are updated daily to reflect the fluctuating prices at the markets.
“We have to update prices every day since the price of products changes. Recently vegetables, fish and meat prices have increased dramatically,” Ratanak says.
Ratana, Ratanak’s younger sister, says that each order is delivered to customers’ front door with delivery charges ranging from $1 to $2 depending on the customer’s location.
“If they live in the centre of Phnom Penh, the price is $1 and if they live in a suburb, the fee is $2. However, most customers order many items at a time to have food for a week. Any orders $15 or up are delivered for free,” Ratana says.
She says fresh food sets are popular because they are affordable and can feed a family. Ratana and her sister want to partner with delivery companies when their shop increases its sales.
Ratanak claims that the local farmers who supply their ingredients don’t use an excessive amount of chemical substances to grow their produce. She says customers can take comfort in the fact that they are supporting local products and boosting peoples’ livelihoods.
“I believed they don’t use harmful chemicals because they can’t afford to buy these expensive substances. They make compost and use that instead. I am not sure how much I can help buy their products but each day I fill up a motorbike trailer with vegetables” says Ratanak.
She says she tracks the cost of goods in markets to keep her prices fair and her products are much cheaper than the prices demanded at supermarkets.
Ratanak says Bonle Srok features unique recipes from their mother, something you won’t find at a supermarket either.
“We have food recipes from our mother including ingredients and cooking techniques. To ensure Cambodian farmers have a market for their products, please support our cause,” says Ratanak.
Bonle Srok, located in Takhmao town in Kandal, is open daily from 9am to 5pm. For more details, visit Bonle Srok’s Facebook page or call 078 979 855.