Sophie's Kitchen is a Cambodian restaurant with incredible story of survival

ByWendy Daughenbaugh WPVI logo
Monday, March 29, 2021
Sophie's Kitchen is a Cambodian restaurant with an incredible story of survival
Owner Sophia Neth's inspirational story includes overcoming brutality in her native Cambodia and a fight for her life and business due to COVID.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It was just about this time last year that Sophia Neth, owner of Sophie's Kitchen on Washington Avenue, was in the hospital fighting for her life.

She, her husband and two of their four sons had all tested positive for COVID-19. Sophia and her son, Brandon, were in intensive care, just doors away from each other, and he was on a ventilator.

After two months of recovery, they reopened their restaurant and began their comeback in an industry where business is still very slow.

Sophie's Kitchen is one of the few places in Philadelphia where you can get authentic Cambodian cooking, with signature dishes such as bok lahong (papaya salad) and ah mok (fish stew steamed in a banana leaf).

Nearly all of the dishes start with housemade kreung, lemongrass paste that is a signature of Cambodian cuisine. And, Sophia says, everything is meant be shared, 'family style.'

COVID-19 was not the family's first struggle with adversity.

Both Sophia and her husband fled the genocidal Khmer Rouge in the 1980s.

Sophia came to Philadelphia via Little Rock, Arkansas, because her parents heard that there was a bigger Cambodian community here and it would be easier to find jobs.

Sophia remembers walking three days to get to Thailand and says she still sometimes has flashbacks of seeing dead bodies along the way.

After her second brush with death, Sophia says she's focused on being a better mom and a better person and she's hopeful that business will get better in the near future.

Sophies Kitchen | Instagram

522 Washington Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa. 19147