The Grand Central Market has been getting a major makeover: a fresh coat of paint, polished floors, WiFi, power outlets and new vendors. “We have empty stalls and we are trying to fill them with new flavors, new cuisines and new tastes,” Christophe Farber, director of business development for the market, told Squid Ink.
The first vendor to make its debut: Sticky Rice. The stall is an homage to authentic Thai street food and is the brainchild of David Tewasart, the owner of Soi 7 and Spirit House. The chef is Johnny Lee, who is also at the helm at Spirit House.
Sticky Rice soft-opened around the end of March and currently has two items on the menu: khao mun gai, a Thai version of Hainan chicken rice, with a soybean and garlic-based dipping sauce; and a BBQ chicken dish made with garlic cloves, chili peppers, vinegar and sugar. Pairings include sticky rice and Lee's version of a Thai papaya salad.
“We're trying to simplify things really,” Tewasart said. “The best Thai food always seems to be the staff meals in the kitchen: grilled meat, spicy salad, chili dips and a soup or a braise. It's all they ever eat and they eat it every day. That's my inspiration and what Johnny and I are going to build on.” The grand opening is April 29.
The market plans to roll out a new vendor each month beginning June. Scheduled after Sticky Rice is Horse Thief, a Texas-style BBQ joint with an eclectic array of smoked meat. On the menu: brisket, pulled pork, turkey and chicken legs.
And while there is a push to introduce new businesses, the existing vendors are there to stay. “We are in a middle of a organic process,” Farber says. “We have empty spaces and we're trying to fill those spaces. The market has been open for nearly 100 years — from 1917. There has always been old blood and new blood, and we're not trying to change that pattern. The current vendors are the heart of the market. We're just hoping to bring in new cuisines and flavors.”
Sticky Rice: 317 S Broadway, #C-4-5, Los Angeles.
Follow Squid Ink at @LAWeeklyFood and check out our Facebook page. Clarissa blogs about Asian food at clarissawei.com. Follow her on Twitter or on Facebook.