Meandering down the streets of Thailand, the aromas of grilling meats, fragrant rice, and tangy sauces waft to your nose. Stop at one food stall for a hearty dish of khao mun gai — slices of tender, juicy, poached chicken served with rice cooked in a rich broth and a tangy sauce of ginger, garlic, chilies, and soy. This popular Thai street dish is the inspiration behind Berkeley’s newest fast-casual restaurant, Chick ‘n Rice, which opens Friday, Sept. 8.
When John Keh met Chavayos (Bob) Rattakul of Tenyuu Group in Bangkok and first tasted the flavorful and authentic chicken dish, he knew he had to recreate this Thai street-food delicacy at home. The pair wandered from Bangkok to Chang Mai to Chang Rai in search of the best iterations of the dish. Raatakul always dreamed of opening a restaurant in the United States, so the duo returned from Southeast Asia. Aiming to become the premier Thai fast-casual restaurant in the United States, Chick ‘n Rice expects to open new locations in the Bay Area and beyond.
In order to introduce the authentic flavors of the simple chicken dish to the American dining scene, Chick ‘n Rice serves a pared-down menu at reasonable prices. Stepping inside, you’ll be met with straightforward dishes that let the ingredients speak for themselves. Choose your protein — chicken, fried chicken, braised pork, or tofu — then dig in alongside rice, cucumbers, cilantro, sweet and sour sauce, and chicken broth soup. Add a soy marinated egg or greens to the mix for an extra burst of flavor. Wash it down with Thai iced tea, coconut water, guava juice, lychee juice, or mango juice, and finish your meal off with coconut milk ice cream with sticky rice. You may not have a trip planned to Thailand this year, but Berkeley’s Chick ‘n Rice offers diners an authentic taste of Southeast Asia.
Chick ‘n Rice, 2136 Center St., Berkeley, 408-506-1284 or eatchicknrice.com.