At his popular L.A. restaurants, NIGHT+MARKET and NIGHT+MARKET SONG, Kris Yenbamroong serves critically-lauded Thai street food in charmingly motley settings filled with dayglo decor, family oil portraits and the odd vintage Cindy Crawford pinup. So it's not surprising to learn that his digital tastes run similarly eclectic. Below, the busy chef/entrepreneur takes a break from preparing the opening of his new Venice outpost to tell us about Instagram cooking tutorials for sea cucumbers, Tom Ford espadrilles and his go-to Postmates order.
Hi Kris! We love that you post food from other restaurants on the NIGHT+MARKET Instagram account. Is there a strategy there or is that just you being a fan?
The NIGHT+MARKET Instagram and my personal Instagram are one and the same because the restaurant is really an extension of who I am.
Everything we post, even, or perhaps especially if it is not ours, is part of the NIGHT+MARKET universe in that it’s something that informs our vision, inspires us, speaks to the same sensibilities—or maybe it’s just something we want to help get the word out about since we have a platform, even if it’s a modest one.
Who are your favorite chefs/restaurants to follow?
Whenever someone asks me where to eat in Thailand, I’ll usually refer them to the Instagrams of my friends Andy Ricker and Austin Bush (@pawkrua and @bushaustin). These guys spend most of the year in Thailand (Austin lives there full time) and are completely in sync with things out there. They are the only people I want to eat with when I’m out there.
What are your thoughts on #foodporn culture?
I’ll admit, I don’t love it but I’ve certainly been guilty of it to a degree. I think where it crosses the line from harmless to detrimental is when it goes from being something that you’re just so in love with and enthusiastic about (for me, certain sushi, Tex Mex queso, steak…) to something that you’ve heard is really hyped and you just want to check it off your list and show the world that you ate it. It’s food for sport, and that’s lame!
Can a person learn to cook solely from watching Youtube tutorials and reading recipe blogs?
In my 20s, I was a luddite and very concerned and worked up over doing everything “old school." But as I’ve gotten older, I’m a little more about the content than the form. Get it done by any means possible—that’s sort of my life philosophy. So if you’re a kid in Iowa and heard about NIGHT+MARKET on the internet and something about what we do speaks to you, you can go access to Thai ingredients online, download our cookbook on Kindle and watch video tutorials. And if you really put your mind to it, you can achieve great things. Nothing will ever substitute human interaction, learning from Grandma, etc. That’s priceless. But to posture and sort of “be mad” at technology is just silly.