Good Southeast Asian Cooking in the Grand Central Market, Downtown.
Is there another place to nab yourself some Hainan Chicken in Los Angeles, pray tell?
Why yes. Yes there is.
The first challenge was actually finding Sticky Rice inside the Market. Now, the funny thing is the infrastructure has improved enough so that there are actual guides, and directions; something I don’t remember from my first visit here all those many years ago. Problem for me was, I didn’t actually find the guides and directions until after I had found, ate at, and enjoyed the hell out of Sticky Rice.
There are a couple of things I really, really, really liked about Sticky Rice. One, part of me just likes an underdog, a small business doing a way different thing inside what is otherwise a pretty heavily Mexican-American undertaking. It’s pretty damn daring if you think about it that way. But since the foods so damn good, maybe it wasn’t that much of an uphill battle in the first place.
Then there’s the Hainan Chicken. I mean for real, who thought of this damn dish? Lukewarm Boiled Chicken atop a bed of rice? I mean, who thought that would be appetizing?
Yet, why o’ why am I thinking of it even now?
You know, it’s those sauces…those damn sauces. You don’t get as many at Sticky Rice as you do as a place like Savoy Kitchen, but what they do with the one sauce they give STILL has me thinking about it all these days later.
Sticky Rice is a mass of contradictions. It’s good Asian food, set in a stall that resembles an old diner. Seriously I thought this was a Johnny Rockets or something before they got here. Red pleather fixed stools, an old formica counter, the works. There are only seven of those red pleather stools, so it is kind of a lotto ticket to get one of the seats. The food is cooked right in front of you, as they both work a very small almost desktop stove, and pull ingredients from the drawers beneath. There is that little space. The cash register is a handmade iPad stand…with an iPad in it.
How are these people doing it? Cramped quarters, small kitchen area, iPad cash register.
I don’t know, but they’re doing it. So you should help ‘em out. Eat they’re very good food.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: One of the advantages of a small restaurant like this, is a small menu.
Believe it or not, we at Is It Any Good World Headquarters like small menus. It keeps restaurants focused. They only put out there what they know they’re good at. Sticky Rice’s Menu has only five things on it.
Yet, strangely, I skipped my own first thing rule and went for the second thing on the menu, which was the Khao Mun Gai, aka the Thai Hainan Chicken, Garlic Rice, and Chicken Soup.
I’ve already waxed a little poetic about Hainan Chicken in general, but specifically here, you get a little bit of Chicken, probably less than you’ll get at Savoy Kitchen, a small pad of rice, and a nice little bowl of piping hot Chicken broth with just a little kick to it. You also only get the one sauce, but that sauce is magical. M-A-G-I-C-A-L.
Looks like I got two places for Hainan Chicken now.
Grab yourself a soda (Mexican Coke), and party down. This is good stuff.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: It doesn’t look like it, and there are no signs indicating it, but this place does take Credit Cards. They’ve got a little swipey thing on the side of the iPad stand. I don’t recall there being a service charge, but I’m pretty sure there was one. If you were low on cash like I was, then that came as welcome news.
317 S Broadway, Ste. C-4-5
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Tel: (213) 621-2865
Daily: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm