A reader wanted to know the location of Dianne Pao and Nimol Sam’s doughnut shop.
The couple expanded their shop into a small Cambodian restaurant last year to avoid becoming the next in a line of doughnut shops across the county to close in recent years, a trend I documented in my story yesterday. While visiting shops during the course of my reporting, I found at least one other doughnut shop, in City Heights, had added a full menu to its offerings to stay afloat.
After finishing my story, I drove over to Pao and Sam’s shop on Midway Drive for lunch yesterday. It’s called D-P Donuts and Cambodian, Thai and Lao Cuisine. Sam told me theirs was the only Cambodian restaurant in the city. I searched and couldn’t find another.
While I ate, he told me he could do away with the doughnuts without much impact on the business. It’s the full menu of food — not the doughnuts — that brings in his small profit these days. He and his wife, who met when he was working at a local Yum Yum Donuts, could avoid rising at 3 o’clock each morning and driving from their Chollas View home to have the donuts in their case by 5:30. They could reduce their 16-hour day by about half and spend more of it with their 6- and 10-year-old sons. But it’s become a way of life for the couple whose families fled violence in Cambodia during the early 1980s.
“We don’t mind, we like to do it,” Pao said.
“For our customers,” Sam added. “Some customers come in for a doughnut every day, and if we close, they don’t go somewhere else. They wait for tomorrow.”
Lunch was delicious. I was surprised only two people trickled through during the hour I was there. If you happen to stop by, let me recommend the Khmer-style Tum Yum soup, flavored with lemongrass and tamarind. Get it spicy and avoid biting into the chunk of galangal root (that’s for fragrance). Sam will send you away with a doughnut.
– ADRIAN FLORIDO