Since the pandemic began, restaurants across Los Angeles have faced extraordinary financial burdens and adapted to survive. By acclimatizing to the social distancing restrictions that have swept across the county in the past two years, many of LA’s restaurants have embraced new business models, technologies and concepts to stay afloat.
Inspired by the innovations that arose during the pandemic, chef Katie Sirikun Danket founded Meat on Rice on April 4 as a ghost kitchen to bring the Thai comfort food of her childhood to LA’s Koreatown.
Danket’s family has owned restaurants specializing in chicken, pork and seafood dishes in Bangkok for over 30 years. With a bachelor’s degree in hotel and culinary business from Rajamangala University of Technology Krungthep, Danket worked with her family for over 15 years before moving to the United States.
The name “Meat on Rice” was chosen to represent the restaurant’s simplicity, a concept that’s reflected in the menu and a callback to Danket’s hometown culinary scene.
As a city home to approximately half a million vendors, Bangkok is renowned for its street food. Vendors typically boast a menu of between three to five specialty items, prioritizing quality over quantity. With this philosophy in mind, Danket wanted her menu to list a select collection of Thai dishes inspired by the comfort food recipes of her childhood in Bangkok.
“She wants to focus on each individual dish so that every time she serves it, it’s perfect,” Danket’s husband and sous chef Sittichai Jaroensaengphet said.
With a short and specialized menu, Danket can put more time and dedication into each dish’s preparation. For example, the chicken for her chicken rice dish is steamed for two hours while she seasons the rice with ginger, garlic and cilantro, all sourced from local markets she visits each week to ensure quality.
After moving to Los Angeles, Danket found that many of its Thai restaurants did not have authentic food. Instead, the eateries catered to a more American palate. The dishes often prioritized sweetness over spice and used more sugar than chilies or herbs.
“At the end of the day, she makes food in the way that Thai people eat,” Jaroensaengphet said. “This is the way it should be, and she is hoping that people here in Los Angeles will try it and love it.”
Thai cuisine is often known for its complexity and balance, finding harmony between sweet, sour, salty and spicy by using fresh herbs to calm burning spices and sugars to temper salty sauces.
It is this complex balance that Danket wishes to convey through her concise menu of Thai comfort foods and share with the Los Angeles community through Meat on Rice. While the ghost kitchen does not have a dining room, guests can enjoy deliveries through online ordering platforms and takeaways from their location at 615 N. Western Avenue in Koreatown.
Meat on Rice
615 N. Western Avenue, Los Angeles
Meals are available through third-party
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily