Night + Market at City Grit: A Northern Thai Dinner by Kris Yenbamroong
"You're gonna be eating some super traditional Thai hick food."
"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."
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 Talésai, 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."
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."