Lakhana In of Sekong By Night

It's all about love for one new local chef. Lakhana In of Sekong By Night -- a self-taught home cook turned executive chef -- has a lot of love for simple, good Asian flavors and for her son, Yutheana In, who has embarked on this venture with her. The restaurant/coffee bar has been open for about two months now; the menu is small and affordable, with everything made from scratch. And yes, you can taste a difference between a spring roll that's processed and one that was rolled just hours before you ate it. In is one hardworking lady with a story to tell. Here's how it begins:

Hometown: Phnom Penh

Cambodian vs. other Asian: It's in between Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese because we are neighbors. Thai is spicy. Spice - you can add later - it's not directly in Cambodian food.

Favorite food: Fried crickets. Unfortunately, it's not on the menu. I have to go to Cambodia for that. It's the one thing that hasn't really changed since I left the country in 1975.

After the jump: tips for good local Vietnamese and Chinese food.

World traveller: I've been back to Cambodia a lot. Last year I went six times. Nobody's there. I have one uncle, but I don't go to see him; I go to see the country.

Maui: I don't have a lot of experience in the kitchen, but I was helping my sister in Hawaii with a coffee shop. I've been back and forth for 16 years.

Lookin' good: I just want food to be good, but not only good tasting, but good looking too.
A little bit of this and a little bit of that: It was just me who taught myself how to cook. When I was growing up, I wasn't around my mom. Being around different types of people - getting a little bit from here and there and putting it altogether.

People pleaser: I really enjoy cooking. It's kind of like putting yourself in and trying something. I'm really excited when I see people who love the food and we get good feedback about how good the food is. It makes you want to do more.

Takeout tips: I never eat out a lot, but Saigon Pho for Vietnamese and Diamond's for Chinese - the food is good, but after you eat, you feel like 'ugh' - it's a lot of grease. Between the two, I prefer Diamond. We went there once every three months, not a lot.

Can't take the heat: I don't like spicy. There's no more taste after you eat it. Maybe it's just me - I just can't take it. We have chili sauce and ground chili if you want it.

A mother's love: I want success for him (Yutheana). I'll retire after this. I just want to live simple.

Come back tomorrow as In walks us through how to prepare Lok Lak Beef, one of her specialties.
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