Four stars for Tepthida Khmer

Lindy Reed
Connector Contributor

Tepthida Khmer is a moderately priced Cambodian-French fusion restaurant located in Lowell at 115 Chelmsford St., about a half-hour walk from both South and East campuses and a quick, ten-minute drive from both areas of UMass Lowell.

The inside of the restaurant is clean, modern, and elegant. The chairs were straight-back dark wood, but not uncomfortable. The dishes were white glazed porcelain and spotless. The glasses were clear and sparkling, and the wooden table was set with a white linen tablecloth. Because it was Halloween time, there were pumpkins set out as centerpieces, and simple yet tasteful fall decor adorned the wall art, contributing to a warm, welcoming ambiance. Compared to many of the other Cambodian restaurants in Lowell, Tepthida is upscale and perfect for a date.

The cashier was friendly and spoke English. The service was timely, and the server was attentive and polite.

The restaurant owner Elly Hsu, a small Cambodian woman who came to America during the Khmer Rouge, was incredibly nice and unbelievably amiable. She recounted the struggles she faced when she first moved to America, and the difficulties of overcoming the language and culture barrier. She takes great pride in her restaurant.

Unlike the numerous other Cambodian restaurants in Lowell, Tepthida Khmer blends Asian and European style foods together. This means that their Cambodian dishes are mixed with French flair.

Their menu includes traditional Cambodian delicacies such as Loc Lac and Mee Katang, but also includes chicken kabobs and fruit salad. This combination makes Tepthida a great introductory stepping stone into Cambodian cuisine, especially for those that are hesitant to delve directly into purely Cambodian food and try catfish soup or squid and octopus with seaweed.

The chicken kabobs were warm, not hot, but seasoned perfectly and covered in a savory orange-brown glaze. The meat was not as tender as it could have been, because it was slightly dry, but the outside was grilled nicely. The white rice was similarly lukewarm and a tad dry, but still tasted good. The side salad of lettuce, tomato, onion, and cucumber included a hearty helping of tangy dressing. This dressing was extremely strong, and easily overpowered the salad, so it must be poured carefully and used sparingly. There was a pitcher of apple juice set out on the table, and the abundance of ice in it made the juice taste watered-down and diluted the apple flavor.

The prices are similar to the Ninety Nine’s or Chili’s, making the restaurant higher quality than a Five Guys or a Chipotle, but not as formal as a Longhorn’s or Outback. Most entrees are about ten to fifteen dollars, with appetizers about five dollars.

Lowell is home to many Cambodian restaurants, but Tepthida Khmer is one of the cleanest and most elegant. Its plain and unimpressive exterior inaccurately reflects the contemporary, affable interior. It definitely has one of the best atmospheres compared to rival restaurants, such as Simply Khmer. However, Simply Khmer has amazing authentic cuisine, which more than makes up for its cheap aesthetic.

So, if true Cambodian delicacies straight from the kitchens of a Phnom Penh local are what you’re looking for, then Tepthida Khmer is not for you. Try Simply Khmer down the street. However, if you prefer less foreign food, with familiar tastes and ingredients but Cambodian style, then look no further than Tepthida Khmer in the heart of Lowell!

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