Q&A: Pok Pok’s Andy Ricker on Opening in Chinatown

The acclaimed chef behind Portland’s Pok Pok talks why he will be opening two—count ’em, two—Thai restaurants in L.A.’s historic Chinatown

So, why Chinatown?
The neighborhood just felt so right to me. Roy Choi introduced me to George Yu, the executive director of the Chinatown Business Improvement District, who then showed me the spaces we ended up leasing. I also snapped up a great apartment on Chung King Road.

Why two spots?
The first will be a noodle shop, which I saw as a way to introduce the brand to L.A. The second will be the L.A. version of Pok Pok, with full service and booze.

What makes L.A.’s Thai community unique?
It’s large and well established, with kids who are second- and third-generation immigrants. There’s easy access to the produce we need, too. But the prime motivator for opening in L.A. was the feeling that the food scene here is on the brink of exploding.