The planned overhaul of Grand Central Market isn't particularly visible as of yet. It's currently undergoing a cleaning at night when the market is closed, but for the most part it remains lovably shabby, and many of the food stalls are empty.
But Sticky Rice is up and running -- the first of what the market hopes will be a series of new tenants showcasing the burgeoning downtown dining scene. Today at 10:30 a.m. they hold their grand opening ceremony. Buddhist monks will bless the Thai street food stall, which is owned by the same people who own Soi 7 and Spirit House.
When I visited, while they were "soft open," things still seemed very much in flux. They admitted some of their equipment wasn't quite working. It was later in the afternoon, and they were out of two of four offered dishes. But they were cheerful and friendly, and the food they did have was damn tasty.
Khao mun gai, the Thai version of Hainanese chicken rice, came with a thick, soy-based sauce, tangy and redolent of garlic. The accompanying chicken broth was intensely comforting. BBQ chicken, its crispy skin imbued with chili and a hint of sweetness, came with sticky rice and a tart green papaya salad.
Now that Sticky Rice is officially open, hours will extend to the market's 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. schedule, and they expect to add more menu items over time. "Being the first to open gives us a great perspective of the changes to come and it is exciting to see the other vendors coming in as well," says Johnny Lee, Sticky Rice's chef. "So far we've been very supportive of each other and are rooting for one another and I hope this will be a great base for building a community in the historic core of Downtown."
If Sticky Rice is indicative of what Grand Central Market will have in store, I can't wait to see what the future holds.
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