Slideshow SLIDESHOW: Night + Market at City Grit: A Northern Thai Dinner by Kris Yenbamroong

[Photographs: Max Falkowitz]

"You're gonna be eating some super traditional Thai hick food."

That's how Kris Yenbamroong began our meal at City Grit, the Soho "culinary salon" by chef Sarah Simmons that also hosts guest cooks from all around the country. (Check out some previous dinners.)

"It's food that's designed to be shared, good for drinking, and to make it easier to enjoy each other's company. So don't be afraid to use your hands and to dip things into other things. Think of it like a lot of chips and dip."

Tossing the 'Startled Pig'

If the Thai-style eating Yenbamroong espouses sounds casual, rest assured that the cooking isn't. His food has been likened by LA Times critic Jonathan Gold to Andy Ricker's Pok Pok: street- and bar-style Thai grub with nods to Chiang Mai and all the dried chili, sour herb, and fermented shrimp funk you can handle.

But Yenbamroong's Night + Market in Los Angeles works more like the original Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco, a semi-permanent restaurant within a restaurant. Except that Tal├ęsai, the Thai restaurant housing Night + Market, is run by his parents. "I moved back to LA from New York and wanted to cook this kind of food, but the clientele there had been going since 1982 and didn't like the flavors. So I started doing these private parties, and they grew into this thing. I had no idea they'd be so popular."

Mackerel Salad

His five-course meal, a one night stand of lime leaf and spicy pork salads, was something of an ode to authentic Thai drunk food (suggested beer pairing: Corona, which "tastes like Thai beer"). "But I'm not an authenticity goon. I don't do something because it's the authentic way; I do it because it's the best way. Sure, this stuff is super traditional because that's the best way to do it, and If I weren't Thai I'd have a bigger authenticity chip on my shoulder. But Thai people just want to cook the best way they can."

Take a look at the meal in the slideshow. You can also catch Kris this weekend at Meatopia before he heads back to LA.

City Grit

38 Prince Street, New York NY 10012 (map)
Around 10-15 dinners/month; check site for availability and tickets

About the author: Max Falkowitz is the editor of Serious Eats: New York. You can follow him on Twitter at @maxfalkowitz.


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