Daylight Donuts has added Asian cuisine to its menu.

By Gale Rose

grose@pratttribune.com

Something new has been added to the menu at Daylight Donuts and it has nothing to do with doughnuts or long johns or doughnut holes.

Asian Cuisine began service on July 7 and will bring new foods with a distinct Oriental flavor to Pratt. Daylight Donut owners Nixon Em and Tavy Em decided to expand their menu to include foods indigenous to their home country of Cambodia. With help from their employee Sitha Mak, they developed a new menu that includes egg rolls, spring rolls, noodle soup (Pho), papaya salad, a red curry soup with chicken or shrimp eaten with rice and bread, chicken or beef on a stick, steamed rice with pork or chicken plus other items. They also offer several flavors of bubble tea made with tapioca, coffee and cream. They have a jasmine rice that has a great aroma.

The Daylight Donuts portion of the business will keep its regular hours from 5 a.m. to noon on Monday through Saturday. The Asian Cuisine hours will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday through Saturday. The store will remain closed on Sunday.

Asian Cuisine is promoting their food products as Thai food although it and food from Cambodia is identical, Mak said.

They decided to go with Thai food because people are more familiar with Thai than with Cambodia. Mak said the food is made with the same ingredients and prepared fresh daily. They export some ingredients from Thailand and Vietnam that they can't get in the U.S.

This new venture marks the latest chapter in a long journey that began in Cambodia decades ago.

Nixon was in the military and he feared for his life under the Pol Pot regime.

The Pol Pot era was one of the most horrific in history. According to a story on the History Channel website, about 1.5 million of the total Cambodia population of seven million to eight million died from starvation, execution, disease or overwork during Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge movement from 1975 to 1979. The movement pulled people out of the cities and put them to work on group farms.

Other sources put the estimate much higher. Nixon and Tavy both say the number was closer to three million.

Nixon was able to escape to the Philippines where he stayed one month. He fled because he believed he would be killed if he stayed. He made it to the U.S. and was at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County in Southern California. He was able to get a sponsor and moved to Portland, Ore. then moved to Seattle, Wash. where he met his future wife Tavy who had moved to Seattle in 2007 and worked as a nurse in a hospital and later worked as a technician for Boeing.

They opened a Chinese food restaurant that was the first of several restaurant ventures. There was a doughnut shop in Temple, Texas then one in Oklahoma. Each shop was closed before the next was open. Eventually there was a shop in Medicine Lodge before moving to Pratt in 2008 where Daylight Donuts was purchased.

Tavy had escaped from Cambodia in 1993. She had 11 siblings. Her father and two of her brothers were killed during the Pol Pot era. She has one brother in Florida and one in Canada.

Mak was born in Cambodia in 1975 in Kampot Province and she remembers they had very little to eat and little to do. She would sit under a coconut tree and ants would bite her. Her mother told her she must not cry or she could get in trouble.

"We had a terrible life in the Pol Pot Regime," said Mak who is the oldest of seven children. She has one brother still in Cambodia and one sister who is married and lives in France.

In 1980, the family moved to Phnom Penh City. Mak stayed there until 2016 when she moved to Pratt. She met Tavy through an on-line Christian conference and they became sisters in Christ which led to her becoming part of the restaurant in Pratt.

Mak has two daughters in Cambodia and hopes work it out so they can come to America. Mak is also a fashion designer and exports to several countries including galleries in Singapore, Japan, Norway and Australia.

@GaleR_Tribune