Kris Yenbamroong Tours Thailand With Grandma, Considers Turning Talesai on Olympic into Thai Takeout Destination
Night + Market's chef and owner hits the interview circuit hard this week, following a recent R&D trip to Thailand with grandma and anticipating this Sunday "Ceviche Nights" at Mo-Chica where he'll cook alongside Spice Table's Bryant Ng. Along the way, we learn some pretty cool things about the chef and his plans for the future as he sits down with Squid Ink and Food GPS.
Yenbamroong, a grad of the film program at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, reveals that his grandmother, Vilai (whose recipes helped kick-start the family's West Hollywood restaurant Talesai), used to be a bit of a diamond smuggler back in Isaan, Thailand, hiding stones in the hem of her skirt to avoid being robbed.
Next door to Talesai, Yenbamroon plans to introduce a superior version of duck larb to the menu at Night + Market, as well as a minced meat specialty of koi, among other rare regional specialties he sniffed out on the road with G. Ma. But that's not all.
Yenbamroong tells Food GPS editor Joshua Lurie that he's considering turning Beverly Hills' Cafe Talesai location on Olympic into a new concept. "I want to do a really solid Thai takeout place, that’s not like Night + Market at all. It’s just really solid Thai takeout in every sense...sort of do a really simple menu, affordable, and not have it be as extreme as Night + Market." The chef envisions a place geared towards the food of Central Thailand and specifically mentions a strong selection of stir-fries as a proposed element.
Yenbamroong also thinks he may open another version of Night+Market, one that comes unattached to another kitchen, unlike his current Thai sensation. Mentioning a focus on more papaya salads and the raw stuff that's popular in the old country, he says, "[It] will be more fully realized because it won't be almost a side thing...It almost feels like a pop-up in my own restaurant that's been running for two years."