Venice’s hottest Thai restaurant is nothing like those that came before it, for better or worse

By Jessica Koslow

Chef Kris Yenbamroong serves Thai cuisine in ways Venice hasn’t seen before
Photo by Laure Joliet via nightmarketla.com

Night + Market Sahm 2533 Lincoln Blvd., Venice (310) 301-0333 nightmarketla.com

I had been to Siam Best, the Thai restaurant in Venice on the corner of Lincoln Boulevard and Grant Avenue, a few times. The food was always good, but the standout feature was a colorful fish tank down the center of the room.

Most of the time, the restaurant was empty. My brother would comment that the quiet made for good conversation. I always felt a wave of sadness as I scanned the place.

As more and more hip restaurants began to pop up in Venice, Siam Best began to feel more like a relic. Each time I drove by, I would think incredulously, “Still here, eh?”

Then one day, the lights were off at Siam Best. It had become another casualty of the rising rents and changing demographics of Venice.

I’m not so sure anyone was too upset about this closing. This wasn’t like Hal’s or Abbot’s Habit on Abbot Kinney.

Conversely, soon came jubilation as news headlines declared with delight: Night + Market Sahm is coming to the Westside.

Chef Kris Yenbamroong, owner of Night + Market in West Hollywood and Night + Market Song in Silver Lake, was opening a third incarnation in Venice — replacing Siam Best.

Yenbamroong’s original plans to open in summer 2016 were pushed to Feb. 3. Now, you can’t get a seat, unless you come right at 5 p.m. when the doors open.

The first time I stopped by the bright orange and blue spot was with my husband. It was 10 p.m. on a Friday and we waited 30 minutes for a table. As a mother of a 3-year-old, I didn’t even know people ate out at 10 p.m. anymore. But the restaurant was packed, and with people I had never seen in my life … people who definitely fit the aesthetic of Abbot Kinney, but not whom I would peg as Venice locals.

As Venice natives, my husband and I pride ourselves on seeing people we know at local restaurants. Or at least, people we feel like we could know. But here, not a familiar face in the place. I wondered, who were these people?

My husband and I laughed at ourselves for waiting 30 minutes to grab a small bite, but I was fully committed to experiencing Night + Market Sahm. Plus, we were asked multiple times if we wanted a drink as we stood at the bar near the door. Maybe it was the friendly service that swayed me to stay.

The next time I came to Night + Market Sahm was with my dad at 6 p.m. on a Saturday. This time, we were informed it would be over an hour wait. This time, I wasn’t amused. I was hangry (hungry + angry). I definitely was not going to wait.

We jumped in our car and sped to nearby Celadon Thai Kitchen instead (on Washington Boulevard near Glencoe Ave.), which, we would find out, had recently changed owners too.

Weeks later, my friend and I had plans to eat out. She was curious about Night + Market Sahm, as was I still. I wanted to have a nice, relaxed meal at a reasonable time. So we decided to go right when doors opened, at 5 p.m. Eureka!

Night + Market offer a unique vibe and menu, including the popular Chiang Rai fried chicken sandwich with papaya slaw
Left: Photo by Laure Joliet via nightmarketla.com Right: Photo via nightmarketla.com

Getting there right at 5 p.m. is the key to eating at this celebrated Thai eatery. The same time when all the people with kids and babies eat. You can choose your table; eat with ease. And watch as the restaurant fills up. Because by 6 p.m., it appears there’s a wait.

The food is really good. Maybe some of the best Thai you’ll ever eat. We ordered larb gai (spicy minced meat salad), garlic green beans, pad see ew gai, and my favorite: the coconut sticky rice. And it was amazing. The crowds then are justified, I suppose.

Maybe it doesn’t feel like a Venice restaurant. But these days, who even really knows what a Venice restaurant feels like?

The best part of my story is I got a personal invitation from Sarah Yenbamroong, Kris’ wife and partner, to dine at Night + Market Sahm. Well … not really.

She was inviting the other Jessica Koslow to try their Peking duck pizza and sweet potato massaman. I just happen to share the same name as Jessica Koslow of Sqirl in Silver Lake. I made the mistake of telling her I wasn’t the one she wanted, but asked if I could have a quote for my feature in the local paper?

No reply.

With or without Venice locals, I have a feeling Night + Market Sahm is going to do very well in Venice. You can’t badmouth good food.

Night + Market Sahm is open for dinner only and closed on Tuesdays.

 

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