empire building

Chiptole's ShopHouse Coming to Santa Monica in 2013

In the ShopHouse, that's where it's at!

In the ShopHouse, that's where it's at!Photo: ShopHouse/Facebook

Speaking of Shitpotle, owner Steve Ell's Southeast Asian concept, ShopHouse, announces plans to open its third location next year in Santa Monica, following its 2011 introduction to D.C., where it currently has store number-two under construction. Last year, Grub Street predicted that ShopHouse could be the "next big thing," given Thai, Malay, and Vietnamese cuisine's greater acceptance in the mainstream, much like how Bibigo is taking advantage of the eventually destined-to-succeed sweet, spicy, and sticky glories of Korean cooking. But let's face it, Ell's is skilled at growing an empire, despite that whole sad Soul Daddy experiment, so it's safe to say we're stuck with ShopHouse either way. So what can you expect?

The first California ShopHouse will arrive at a yet-to-be-announced address in Santa Monica (probably not a high-risk bet to guess The 3rd Street Promenade), and continues the founder's commitment to sustainable sourcing and customer-customizable menus featuring rice, noodle, or salad choices, with options for chicken satay, steak larb, tofu, and pork or chicken meatballs, plus topping picks like red and green curry, green papaya slaw, and tamarind vinaigrette.

Just as the oft-bastardizing Chipotle shies away from calling itself authentic Mexican (despite an employ of Aztec iconography that we recently passed at a Manhattan store), ShopHouse similarly states in a press release, "While not strictly traditional Southeast Asian fare, ShopHouse is an interpretation of cuisine from the region," meaning they may do for larb what they do for carnitas and barbacoa.

So if educating yourself about and experiencing authentic regional cooking matters much to you, this may be viewed as disconcerting in a city with such an incredible array of Southeast Asian eats. But if you just want a quick, casual lunch at a fair price during your mid-day break, look for ShopHouse to take space in Santa Monica early next year. Meanwhile, we'll be at Westminster's Quan Hy, where a true, royal Vietnamese spread will still probably cost less.

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