I can say I am a little obsessed with Le Petit Cafe in Lowell, MA right at the edge of Little Cambodia. I was introduced to them by a dear friend and I fell in love. It isn’t just about the food at Le Petit, it takes me to a place I have never been to and have never experienced; but the owner puts so much love into her food that it feels like you are transported to Cambodia. At least for me. By now, you must know I am a dramatic writer when it comes to all things food, culture and experiencing different cuisines other than my native one. I get excited and I shout from the rooftops so that everyone can learn about it. To be quite honest I never wrote about Le Petit Cafe, because I wanted to keep it to myself. 😀 Its true, but they deserve all the accolades so here is my piece on them and I hope you learn more about their culture, food and why it is I love Cambodian (or Khmer) food so much.
Le Petit has been in Lowell for several decades and is a small mom and pop shop serving up freshly made Kuytiev Khaw-ko which is a Khmer soup with delicious broth, meat and served with a freshly toasted baguette with butter. The owner is also known for her stuffed chicken wings which are absolutely delicious and have so much flavor and love. I always get the same thing when I go, which is so unlike me, but I can’t resist getting her Kuytiev because it is phenomenal and when I dunk that baguette into the broth I get transported to food heaven. As a side note I am also obsessed with her Lort Cha which is a Cambodian noodle dish.
Lets jump into some history before I share some photos, because as you all know, cuisine to me is more than the food itself or experiencing the flavor. I also like to talk about origins of a dish if there is one especially on a cultural level. For those of us who live in Lowell, we know that we have one of the largest Khmer populations in the United States, and we have A LOT of Cambodian restaurants, all unique in their own way. This history starts with the Khmer Rouge, a genocide that took place in Cambodia that is incredibly complex and you should read more about it here. Many Cambodians fled to different countries becoming refugees, and many of those refugees landed here in Lowell and now we have a beautiful, blossoming Cambodian community that makes our city so very rich! Honestly, Lowell, would not be Lowell without its rich Cambodian heritage, and with that heritage we have food.
Kuytiev has origins in China but is an incredibly popular Cambodian noodle soup that is composed of a rich broth, meats, noodles and in this case, a toasted baguette with butter for dipping. It is comforting, enveloping and everything you need any day of the week, cold or hot weather. I have had several in Lowell, and Le Petit is the one that always calls me back for more! Le Petit also has Muslim origins, so there are dishes that are halal which is a great option for those who eat halal.
I said all of this to make a point that food is community and community gives us life. Our cultural web of food, language, and way of being are directly intertwined with everything else we do and even though I am Puerto Rican, I can be embraced at Le Petit as one of their own while I sit and have my simmering bowl of Kuytiev Khaw-Ko. Make sure to visit when you can and keep scrolling for photos.
A gorgeous spread
Fresh Stuffed Chicken Wings
Everything is good at Le Petit, so honestly if you want noodles instead of soup you are covered. I hope you enjoyed this piece on one of my favorite Cambodian restaurants in the city, stay tuned for more pieces coming soon!
Also they don’t have a website or Facebook so you can find them on Instagram and their address 660 Middlesex Street Lowell, MA.
Life as a Maven
May 15, 2023 at 10:05 am
I’ve never been and now will be sure to! Great piece, photos and representation. Thank you Timna for this and all you do to support the ethics, heart and soul of our food and beverage trade.