Sticky Rice

Sticky Rice — Go for the Som Tam, stay for the Crying Tiger

By Jen Jones Donatelli

What happens when fine dining refugees just want to have fun? They set up an imaginative Thai street food stop in the heart of Grand Central Market. To bring his vision to life, owner Dave Tewasart enlisted Todd Chang (formerly of Momofuku) and Johnny Lee (formerly of Rivera) to get the kitchen party started. “Coming from such serious kitchens, we wanted to keep things lighthearted, straightforward, and all about good taste,” shares Chang. Those good vibes translate to great eats. Sip on juice straight from a fresh coconut while you watch Lee and Chang prepare dishes like the Crying Tiger—sous vide–tenderized grilled Wagyu skirt steak paired with Sticky Rice’s flavorful signature som tam papaya salad. Or try the khao mon gai, delicious bites of Thai Hainan chicken served with an addictive house-made dipping sauce, garlic rice, and chicken soup. (The bones are used to make the stock—“we try to use the whole chicken,” Chang explains).

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the crowd
Sticky Rice is a popular respite for the downtown lunch set, attracting everyone from corporate types to LA Times reporters to those escaping jury duty for a precious hour. According to Chang, there’s also a “2 PM hipster rush, because that’s when they all wake up.”

retro-tastic
Fun reigns at Sticky Rice, as evidenced by the kitschy décor. As a complement to the colorful cuisine, a growing Ultraman doll collection sits above the food prep area, while vintage Vespa ads and old Thai movie posters dot the walls.

reshaping DTLA
The concept first got its wings at the Altadena Farmers’ Market, and headed to the Grand Central Market in February 2013, after Altadena Farmers’ Market manager Joseph Shuldiner and Saving the Season canner Kevin West recruited Tewasart and his team to take part in a planned mass rejuvenation of the Grand Central Market. Sticky Rice then became one of the first in a wave of new tenants for the re-emerging downtown dinosaur.

decibels
Medium

hours

11 AM–6 PM daily

price range

$7 (green curry veggies with coconut rice) to $14 (Crying Tiger)
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