If you often find yourself dreaming of Kris Yenbamroong's plates of pork larb and curried noodles, his happily spicy nuoc mam chicken wings and catfish tamales, his - oh, you get the idea. It's not like you haven't memorized the menu. Because Yenbamroong's Night + Market serves the kind of stuff many of us daydream about, a tiny quirky restaurant we drive by and slam on brakes to eat at, without reservations, because food cravings are like that and his restaurant is that good.
So for months now we've been waiting patiently (or not) for the chef's second restaurant to open, a Silver Lake outpost of the original, called Night + Market Song (Song meaning two in Thai), on Sunset Boulevard. And open it did, quietly and in very soft-open mode, this past Monday, March 24. That sound you hear is many, many happy people simultaneously Mapquesting Sunset and Micheltorena on their phones.
The new restaurant doesn't really need the neon sign that the Night + Market in West Hollywood initially did to show people the way, since you can probably see the bright pink exterior from outer space. Yenbamroong and his fiancée Sarah St. Lifer (congratulations!), who is also Night + Market's manager, recently went to the chef's native Thailand, and they said that they wanted the region's penchant for garish colors ("I didn't realize there was so much pink in Thailand!") for their new restaurant.
Thus pink paint for the outside, and lots of bright orange and royal blue on the inside. There is a bar made from an old plywood plank, tablecloths brought back in the form of fabric rolls from an alley market in Old Bangkok, informal plates and plastic glasses and paper napkins, and a framed pin-up poster of Cindy Crawford on the walls. Okay, why Cindy Crawford?
"It's like a Thai roadside shack," said Yenbamroong, two days after they opened, of the new place. "Inevitably you'll have some sort of pin-up of promo items, sort of NASCAR but in Thailand. I'm not trying to reproduce something from Thailand; in L.A., the equivalent is a super model poster."
The new location is a former taco joint that had been abandoned for a time before Yenbamroong found it. Because although it seems logical now for the original Night + Market to be in West Hollywood nextdoor to Yembamroong's parents' restaurant Talesai, the chef said he'd always wanted to open in Silver Lake (which is where St. Lifer lives).
In the heady days after the new restaurant opened, Yenbamroong has been pretty much cooking everything himself. "It's like when Night + Market started. It's me and one other woman in the kitchen doing everything. The first night night I was working out of a cooler, like it was an event or something. We only have ten or 13 items on the menu - we're still evolving."
Just how quickly they're evolving you can tell by the bowls in the kitchen, which Yenbamroong's mother brought over, since on opening night her son realized that he's forgotten to buy bowls. "It's not like I romanticize it or want it to be this way forever, but it's kind of cool doing everything myself."
For now, there's the kind of beaten path you'd probably imagine up and down Sunset between the two restaurants: The sausages for the new place being made in West Hollywood, the curries made in Silver Lake. And Yenbamroong says that although he wants the classic dishes from his first restaurant to be in both places ("it's the same restaurant"), he also wants each to have its own distinct life. And yes, the opening of a second place has engendered plans for a third, but calm, down: Right now the plans are "just thoughts."
One thing at a time, right? Starting with the fried papaya salad, "our new favorite thing." Look for more new dishes by this weekend, in addition to the deep-fried whole branzino, the luu suk (pork blood and MSG dipping soup), Chiang Rai-style pork larb, "startled pig," and jungle curry that are already there. And for dessert, "supermarket cake," which is exactly that, cake that St. Lifer buys from a local supermarket.
"We want a tight menu, not a million items, but you want to have a bit of everything when you go to a Thai restaurant. We'll get there." For everyone who's been waiting for the doors to the pink building to open, they have already.
Open for dinner 5 to 10:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. The restaurant is currently cash-only, with no booze and no BYOB. Lunch will be coming eventually, as will take-out, and both beer and wine and credit cards are in the works. The restaurant doesn't yet have a phone number, but you can email them at email@example.com or follow them on Twitter at @NtMRKT.
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