In some ways, Night + Market seems inevitable. Kris Yenbamroong, its chef and founder, grew up in the kitchen of his family’s restaurant. Talesai was sleek, sexy, upmarket–a place Yenbamroong’s father, then a banker, could bring his banker friends to. It was a Sunset Boulevard staple that, at its zenith, drew the likes of Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger, and the rest of the Hollywood A-list. Yenbamroong was, as he once put it, “the quintessential restaurant brat,” likely soaking up not only what was happening in the kitchen, but who was seated at its tables out front.
Yenbamroong was the product of the culinary world but also, arguably, the entertainment industry. Instead of immediately entering the family business, Yenbamroong went to film school at New York University. But food, it seems, was Yenbamroong’s calling. After graduating, in his mid-twenties, Yenbamroong had the opportunity to get behind the wheel at Talesai. It was a complicated inheritance, so to speak, and all did not go exactly as planned. However, when a space next door opened, Yenbamroong jumped at the chance to create something from scratch. What he built was Night + Market.
That was nearly eight years ago. Today, Yenbamroong operates three Night + Market locations: Night + Market WeHo, Night + Market Song, and Night + Market Sahm. Each is Yenbamroong’s successful attempt to channel a uniquely Thai connection to food. (Consider his excellent–albeit not technically Thai–natural wine options an added bonus.) Unlike Talesai, Night + Market is designed to be accessible to the point of irony. There are vinyl tablecloths, beaded curtains, plastic drinking cups straight out of your high school cafeteria. Its lack of pretense serves to both make diners feel immediately comfortable and to emphasize a point: the only thing that matters when you’re going out to eat is what’s on the plate, and who you’re with.
Below, we meet Yenbamroong at Night + Market Song in Silver Lake to talk go-to whites, long boulevards, and late night taco runs of the fast food sort.
Neighborhood you grew up in:
I grew up all over L.A.: North Hollywood, Culver City, Beverly Hills, Mid-City. I also spent four years in Bangkok.
Neighborhood you live in now:
First dish you remember making/mastering as a kid:
Larb gai. I would go to my family’s restaurant every day after school and this is what I would order. Eventually, after I had it enough times–and it wasn’t completely to my liking–I decided to tinker a bit with the recipe.
Dish your family is known for:
Hidden Treasures. It’s essentially a deconstructed version of the Thai dish hor mok. It is presented as seven little bites in a custom dimpled-steel dish, sort of like escargot.
Best street in Los Angeles:
Sunset Boulevard. Two of our restaurants are on Sunset Boulevard! And it’s one of the longest streets in L.A.–it spans from the beach to Downtown. There’s something for everyone!
Most interesting neighborhood in Los Angeles right now:
I would say Venice, but maybe I’m biased since I live there! There’s a strong concentration of great restaurants, which is always a good thing in my book.
Stereotype about L.A. that isn’t true:
That everyone is super health conscious.
Stereotype about L.A. that is true:
We drive everywhere, even short distances.
Ingredient you’re currently into:
Song/album you’re cooking to:
The new Paul McCartney album.
Personal favorite food/bev combo at each of your restaurants:
All three of the restaurants will have a selection of Chenin Blanc, which is my go-to white wine choice with our food. If I’m in the mood for red wine, it is a Gamay that’s been chilled.
Natural wine in one word:
Late-night watering hole:
I like to eat late at night. MTN, Aburiya Raku, Taco Bell.
Restaurant (aside from your own) that you think is doing interesting things:
Majordomo, David Chang’s new L.A. restaurant.
If NIGHT + MARKET was a movie, what genre would it be?
Sophomore year college film class final project.
Who’d you get to direct?
You’d be played by _________.
Likely Rotten Tomatoes rating: