5 Questions for Kris Yenbamroong

Kris Yenbamroong is the mastermind behind Night + Market, a West Hollywood hit on the Sunset Strip thanks to the 30-year-old chef's take on regional Thai street food. Yenbamroong received a film degree from New York University, then joined the family restaurant business and opened Night + Market in 2010, inspired by the street food he came across during pilgrimages to Thailand. Fried chicken with mortar-pounded sauces, tangy house-made sausages, spicy catfish wrapped in banana leaf.... 

What’s coming up next on your menu? I'm obsessing over this wine dinner I'm planning where I'll be pouring the wines of this Loire guy, Pascal Potaire. He makes a rustic sparkling wine called "Piège à Filles," which translates to "Girl Trap." Because the wine is non-fussy and is of the sort that you gulp, not ponder, the dinner is actually more of an "anti-wine-dinner" in that it'll be casual and communal, with the wine most likely poured from Magnums. So I'm trying to figure out what Thai dishes are most conducive to that. So far, it's platters of fried chicken, nam prik maengda (Chiengrai water bug relish), papaya salad with salted crab, and chin kleua, which is like beef jerky but steamed over a bed of kaffir lime leaves.

Latest ingredient obsession? Hanging tenders, the diaphragm of a cow. It's super beefy in smell, taste, texture. I cut steaks from it to make neua jim jaew, a simple dish of meat sliced and grilled with a northeastern Thai style dipping sauce. Then, I use the trimmings for my beef tendon panang, which is my signature blend of fat, sinew and meat from hanging tenders and beef short ribs.
What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again? Rae's restaurant on Pico. I've been going there forever. I order the club No. 1 on white toast with mayo, fries and a small salad with ranch dressing on the side. The salad is because I feel guilty just asking for a tub of ranch dressing with my fries. And, Mozza. All the losers crowing about the foie gras ban need to stop it already and just go to mozza and get the chicken liver toast with guanciale.

The one piece of kitchen equipment you can’t live without, other than your knives? My mortar and pestle. Actually it's two -- a stone set and a clay mortar with a wooden pestle that my grandma gave me. It has to be decades old. I insist on making nam prik (Thai chile relishes) by hand in these mortars. Certain recipes can be physically rigorous and time-consuming, and to make matters worse, so few people order this stuff when they come in. My crew thinks I'm a madman for continuing to make "salted duck egg chile relish" and things of that nature. But I'm on a mission to make nam prik mainstream, so I do it.

The last cookbook you read – and what inspired you to pick it up? "The Art of Fermentation" by Sandor Katz. Rarely do I read a cookbook specifically for the purpose of learning recipes. I read them for the ideas and concepts in hopes that one day, I'll be less dumb.

Night + Market, 9041 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 275-9724, www.nightmarketla.com.

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