Where the Chefs Eat is an ongoing series in which we ask a local chef to give us his or her favorite dining options. This week, we talk to Kris Yenbamroong, chef and owner of Night + Market, about his regular spots.
Bánh Mì My Tho / Bánh Mì Buu Dien: "There's this thing I do -- it involves driving out to Action Sales in Monterey Park and picking up woks, or rubber floor mats, or some other equipment that I need in the kitchen. Then I'll circle back to downtown L.A. to buy a case or two of fish sauce at LAX-C. I might hit up a poultry shop in Chinatown to buy some livers and gizzards. Then IMP if I need fish or oysters. Other stops might include Boyle Heights (for pig neck) or Echo Park (yellow belly catfish). The one constant on these loops is bánh mì. Depending on where I'm at, it's either Buu Dien (Chinatown) or My Tho (the other Chinatown, further east). I always order 10 'Specials' with extra jalapeño. What sets both of these places apart from the rest is the pronounced liver-yness and the quality of the cold cuts. When I get back to the restaurant, I hand them out like I'm bánh mì Santa Claus. Staff meal made easy."
Hide Sushi: "Sometimes, I'll read food blogs. (It's the same masochistic impulse that drives me to read my Yelp reviews before bed.) There will be lots of words like 'deftly' and 'disconcerting' and 'salinity.' I'll think to myself, 'STOP IT. This is food, and no one cares but us.' Oftentimes, places like Hide will be described as 'pedestrian' while Urasawa is praised as some sort of heaven. Hide is one of my favorite restaurants. The quality/price ratio favors you. The saba nigiri is perhaps the best in the city. Every young chef should dream to one day have a restaurant like Hide -- that is, one that quietly kills it day in and day out with little fuss and fanfare."
Rae's: "I probably mention the Club Sandwich #1 on white toast at Rae's way too often. So this time, I'll talk about the tuna melt, which comes in a close second. Aside from fried chicken dipped in ranch dressing, there is nothing I'd rather eat after a night of heavy drinking. I'm not really keen on food descriptions, but I will say that it's everything you want in a tuna melt: equal parts chunk and solid tuna, lots of mayo, salty, gooey Kraft cheese, buttery crispy rye."
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