By the end of summer, chef Kris Yenbamroong plans to open the second location of Night + Market, the idiosyncratic mecca of northeastern Thai street food attached to his family's Sunset Strip restaurant, Talesai.
Yenbamroong's is working on installing Night + Market Song (song means "two" in Thai) about 10 miles east on Sunset Boulevard, near Sunset Junction in Silver Lake. He wouldn't disclose the exact location but said it's about a 1,400-square-foot space along "main drag Silver Lake." With construction beginning in July, he estimated a late August opening.
"Most of it's going to be the same as Night + Market," Yenbamroong said. "Night + Market One was always meant to be in Silver Lake. I mean, I didn't think initially that I should do Night + Market" at its current location -- though he added that "in hindsight, it makes sense that I did."
What followed were critical and popular raves for grilled fatty pork collar ("pork toro"), fermented sausages with chile-spiked relishes, pork larb, khao soi and catfish "tamale" (catfish and pork fat baked in banana leaf).
Expect the same northeastern Thai food at the heart of the menu at Song (as Yenbamroong calls it). But "I’ll be able to hopefully be more ambitious," he said. "I am trying my all right now. But with limited refrigeration, space and staff [in a kitchen shared with Talesai] there are things I can’t do."
Such as the dish gaeng gradang, "this type of curry that’s solid, sort of gelatinous. You make it like head cheese or use trotters, it's almost like rillettes but less solid. There are pieces of pork suspended in this gelatinous curry. If you go to a market in the north there are aluminum trays almost like cake pans, they’ll sell slices of it, served coldish. You basically have this block of gelatinous curry and a mound of warm sticky rice and it almost melts on it.
"It's really sort of weird, esoteric, even an acquired taste. ... Eventually I’m hoping that it won’t be such a weird thing. Not 'oh, there’s this weird Jell-O curry thing that they're doing,' but I’m hoping that a group of six kids come in, have a couple orders of sticky rice and this blob of gelatinous curry thing, chicken wings, grilled pork, hang out and have drinks."
Song is to serve beer and wine, in what Yenbamroong describes as almost like a diner or a beer garden, or in Thailand, suan ahan. That's literally "food garden," but "the implied meaning is beer garden. The food exists solely for the beer."
Like the space ("almost less fancy than the original, if that's possible"), the beer list will be stripped down, with a handful of wines chosen by Yenbamroong. "I only want to serve two Thai beers and one American beer. I want people to come and say, 'I’ll have the beer.' Not, 'Is there an IPA?' ... It's not that I'm against that or I'm a communist or something, but at my favorite places in Thailand, maybe there's an orange soda, green soda, water and the one beer and then whatever three dishes they're serving. What else do you need really?"
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