The founders of Caviar, a delivery service company, plan on opening Chick’n Rice, a Thai casual dining restaurant, on Center Street later this August.
The restaurant, founded by Jason Wang, Shawn Tsao, Vince Cao and John Keh, will focus on a traditional Thai dish, khao mun gai, and will also serve fried chicken, pork or tofu over rice.
“It’s a combination of a lot of different flavors and when you combine that with boiled chicken or pork, it just tastes really great over rice,” Cao said.
With khao mun gai as its feature dish, the restaurant will also offer traditional desserts including mango sticky rice and beverages such as Thai iced tea and mango juice.
The inspiration for Chick’n Rice came from a trip to Thailand, Cao said, where the founders tasted and fell in love with the dish.
They soon partnered up with Chavayos (Bob) Rattakul of Tenyuu Group based in Thailand and tasted a khao mun gai plate made by Rattakul and his chefs. They used the recipe to create their signature dish.
Rattakul’s chefs will be coming to Berkeley to train chefs to create the dish, according to Cao.
The restaurant will showcase a mix of traditional Thai style cooking with a modern layout. The 900-square-foot restaurant will have wooden walls and chicken stencils.
“It’s more of your fun, modern … simple clean look,” Cao said.
The founders sold Caviar to Square, Inc., in 2014 and left the business altogether near the end of 2016.
They own the Seattle franchise for The Halal Guys, a restaurant that offers falafel, gyros and other halal cuisine.
“We don’t think any other restaurants in Berkeley or even in the Bay Area can provide a dish this tasty,” Cao said. “I don’t think people would know about this dish too much, so we want to introduce it as a dish not just to the city of Berkeley but the Bay Area that people would love and come — even from San Jose — to get.”
Downtown Berkeley Association Director of Vitality Matthew Jervis said he looks forward to meeting the owners of Chick’n Rice and involving them in Downtown Berkeley merchant meetings.
“We’re always excited about new businesses adding to — literally — the flavor of downtown. … The food culture here has always been really diverse and vibrant,” Jervis said. “It’s always exciting to see the downtown grow.”
ThaiSA, the campus Thai student organization, expressed excitement for the opening of the restaurant.
“I have had khao mun gai before and yes it is pretty popular,” said campus sophomore and Thai Student Association member Rangsimon Pholcharoenchit in an email. “(I’m) not sure how the ‘chicken fattened rice’ will be received by people here, but I personally love it.”