A gigantic elephant statue guards the entrance to Angkor Wat, a Cambodian restaurant hidden near Tokyo's Yoyogi Station.

Once you step inside, a veritable wallpaper of faded yellow autographed papers and awards attest to its history and popularity. But the story behind Angkor Wat extends beyond its culinary reputation.

"My family came to Japan as refugees in 1981. My father, Yoshimatsu Go, decided to open a Cambodian restaurant to return the favor to Japan, the peaceful country that offered us a safe place," says Shuji Go, the restaurant's second-generation owner. "When we arrived in Japan, I felt so grateful that I could live in a country where I didn't hear the sound of gunshots."