Not many restaurateurs look to 7-Eleven for culinary inspiration, but that’s exactly where Bangkok native Amorn Bholsangngam, a partner with his brother Amnaj in Chinatown’s Chimney Coffee House, got the idea for his next-level larb burger.
Back when he lived in Bangkok, Bholsangngam frequented the American-born convenience store to kill his hangover after a night of heavy drinking. His go-to cure involved sticky rice buns sandwiching pork larb patties, a progressive riff on the Thai salad typically composed of minced meat, toasted rice powder, lime juice, fish sauce, chiles and herbs.
In Los Angeles, he worked with fusion chef Royce Burke to translate 7-Eleven’s vision into a version he could serve at his family’s Chinatown coffeehouse.
Burke, better known as "The Rogue Chef,” lives in the neighborhood and was a regular at Chimney, a modern specialty coffee shop located in front of LAX-C, a popular Thai market. Bholsangngam had been to one of Burke’s pop-up dinners and was blown away by his pistachio ramen with maple-chile candied bacon. The brothers invited Burke to take over Chimney’s kitchen and overhaul their breakfast and lunch menu.
Chimney's larb burger ($10) centers on a juicy, grilled pork patty seasoned with cilantro, fresh shallots, chile flakes, lime juice, fish sauce and scallions. It's topped with mint-lime salad, crispy fried shallots, cilantro-garlic mayo and a shower of gritty toasted rice powder and served on a soft, house-baked milk bun.
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The burger packs more pungency than you’ll find in just about any traditional version — and is further proof that Chinatown has some of the most exciting food in L.A.
1100 N. Main St., Chinatown; (323) 343-0030, chimneycoffee.com