Simply Khmer

In reflection of AANHPI (Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander) Heritage Month, recently celebrated in May, Simply Khmer, a culinary gem in Lowell, offers an authentic taste of Cambodia. Beyond its delicious dishes, the restaurant embodies a story of resilience, generosity, and dedication to the local community.

Recently, Simply Khmer celebrated the grand opening of its new location in Chelmsford, marking a significant milestone in their culinary journey with the same dedication and passion that has defined their success. The new Simply Khmer Noodle House and Bar in Chelmsford focuses on noodle dishes, featuring a unique Kathiew/Kuy Tiew portion on the menu where patrons can create their own bowl, adding a personalized touch to their dining experience.

While Simply Khmer Noodle House and Bar emphasizes noodle specialties like Kuy Tiew and Nom Banh Chok, you can still find the classic Khmer dishes that are beloved by patrons at both the Lowell and Chelmsford locations. Simply Khmer in Lowell offers many traditional Khmer dishes that showcase the rich flavors and culinary heritage of the region. From the iconic Amok Trey/Sa’Muth, a delicate fish poached in coconut cream sauce, to beloved staples like Mee Ka Thang, each dish is crafted with care and precision, showcasing Cambodia’s vibrant food culture for all to enjoy.

You might find yourself wondering, who is behind Simply Khmer? Denise Ban and her partner, Chef Sambath Eang Lee, embarked on their journey from Cambodian refugees to restaurateurs in 2007 when they opened their first location in Lowell, Massachusetts. Their mission was simple yet profound: to share the food they grew up on and to feed their local community.

From day one, Denise and Chef Sambath have gone above and beyond to fulfill their mission, often going the extra mile to support those in need. In 2013, when a residential fire in Lowell left families in dire need, they collaborated with the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, donating two meals a day for six months to feed those affected. Their generosity not only nourished bodies but also provided much-needed comfort and support during a difficult time. This commitment extends further as they focus on empowering young Khmer Americans and supporting local organizations like the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, AgeSpan, and Girls Incorporated of Lowell. Having experienced the challenges of starting anew in a foreign land themselves, Denise and Chef Sambath take pride in providing support and opportunities to the next generation.

The journey of Simply Khmer wouldn’t be complete without the invaluable support of the Entrepreneurship Center (E-Center). Through E-Center resources such as the SBA Microloan program, Denise was able to secure the funding needed to open a second location in Chelmsford. With the guidance of Charles and the E-Center team, Denise navigated the loan application process with ease, ensuring the success of Simply Khmer’s expansion.

Reflecting on her journey with the E-Center, Denise shares, “I didn’t know about CTI until Charles Smith. CTI has a lot of resources and it is a game changer for my business – stress-free with applications, understanding documents and financials is where I struggle a lot with. Charles kept me on my toes and held me accountable.” Denise’s testimonial highlights the transformative impact of the E-Center’s support, underscoring its role in Simply Khmer’s success.

Furthermore, the MGCC Biz-M-Power grant provided by the E-Center allowed Simply Khmer to update its kitchen and furniture in their Lowell location, ensuring that the restaurant continues to thrive and innovate. During her campaign and interactions with the E-Center team, they coordinated Simply Khmer’s participation in the Lowell Winterfest Soup Contest this past February, which resulted in the restaurant winning first prize, further solidifying their reputation as a culinary powerhouse.

Through their dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment to community, Denise Ban and Chef Sambath Eang Lee have not only built a thriving restaurant but also a beacon of hope and resilience in the heart of Lowell. Simply Khmer is more than just a place to eat; it’s a testament to the power of food to bring people together, to nourish the body and soul, and to celebrate Khmer culture.