A new Cambodian Noodle House will open its doors in the Bella Vista neighborhood on March 2.
The new establishment called “Mawn” is a BYOB created by husband and wife team chef Phila and Rachel Lorn at 764 S. 9th St. The 28-seat restaurant is positioned as a “no rules noodle house,” according to Phila (pronounced “Pee-la,” but is named after the city). The restaurant plans to go beyond Cambodian cuisine to explore all parts of Southeast Asia including flavors from Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.
“We were both born and raised in Philadelphia and are so excited to bring our dream of owning our own restaurant to life,” said Phila. “As a first-generation Cambodian American, I want to share my culture through food, and Mawn will provide me with that opportunity. I’m also very excited to incorporate ingredients from Rachel’s Jewish lineage on our menu.”
Mawn means “chicken” in Khmer, the official Cambodian language. Chicken represented peacetime for Phila’s parents who survived the Cambodian genocide. According to Phila, his mother would tell him, “If there was chicken to eat, it means there was no war.”
Mawn will initially open for dinner only, operating Wednesday through Saturday from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Lunch service will follow shortly after opening, with serving hours from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. There will also be a Cambodian hot pot prix-fixe Sunday brunch added to the repertoire later this spring called “Ya Hawn,” a family-style meal that Phila describes as “a great hangover cure, which is also a really nice meal to share with specially chosen friends and family.”
Phila and Rachel are both veterans in the restaurant industry. Rachel worked at Stephen Starr’s Pod in University City, and chef Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka’s Zama in Rittenhouse, among others. She has spent the last seven years at the Logan Hotel where she managed Urban Farmer, and was most recently the director of banquets.
Phila has worked in top Philly kitchens since 2006, with the likes of Zama, Will BYOB, Stock Fishtown, Barbuzzo and Mighty Bread Co. on his resume. He was recently tapped by Jose Garces for a residency at Volvér at the Kimmel Center, giving Lorn his first opportunity to share his food with a mainstream audience. They met while working together at Zama in 2011.
Mawn will feature an open noodle and papaya station, and the kitchen will serve grilled items, skewers, small and large plates and desserts. The full opening menu can be found at http://mawnphilly.com/menu.
Some of the exotic dishes include Cambodian beef bone noodle soup; Laotian khao poon; Northern Thai khao soi; a vegan three-mushroom noodle soup; and a Vietnamese chicken pho with chicken schmaltz to pay homage to Rachel’s upbringing. Once lunch service commences, Phila and Rachel will add Cambodian-style sandwiches called num pang that will be served on fresh, warm rolls from Sarcone’s Bakery, which is located a few doors away from the restaurant.
“We are opening this restaurant as a place for people to come share a bunch of different dishes from many cultures,” said Rachel. “We’ll be more of a quick noodle shop during the day, but at night, we are looking to feature more traditional Cambodian dishes while also offering a full dining experience featuring foods from throughout Southeast Asia. We are so excited to finally open the doors to Mawn and take the next step in achieving our dream, while bringing Philly some more ‘noods,’ which we think the city needs.”