A group of UC Berkeley alumni who founded the restaurant delivery service Caviar are switching gears to open a counter-service Thai chicken restaurant, Chick’n Rice, not far from their alma mater. And no, they won’t be delivering their food, by Caviar or other means — at least to start. Chick’n Rice is targeting an August opening, in time to serve students for the fall semester.
Founders Jason Wang, Shawn Tsao, Vince Cao, and John Keh sold Caviar to mobile payments company Square in 2014 for a reported $90 million in stock. Since then, they’ve formed a restaurant group, Umai Hospitality, and purchased the Halal Guys franchise rights for the Pacific Northwest.
Their new business, Chick’n Rice, is located at 2136 Center Street (between Shattuck and Oxford). When it opens, hours will be from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The focus is khao mun gai, a Thai version of Hainese chicken and rice where chicken is typically poached and served over rice cooked in chicken broth. The group “discovered” khao mun gai on a trip to Thailand, eventually recruiting Chavayos (Bob) Rattakul of Tenyuu Group in Bangkok to develop their recipe for Chick’n Rice .
Of course, they needn’t have travelled so far. Diners can enjoy an excellent version of khao mun gai at Kin Khao, or a tasty, quick service one at Rooster & Rice, a similarly-named fast-casual business with a similar concept and two locations in San Francisco. But staying at home wouldn’t have been nearly as fun. And look out, potential competitors: Chick’n Rice explicitly aims “to become the #1 Thai fast-casual restaurant brand in the country.”
The new restaurant will serve standard poached chicken, fried chicken, and braised pork dishes over rice with cucumbers, cilantro, sweet and sour sauce, and a side of chicken broth for pouring on top. They’ll also offer a vegetarian option and add-ons like soy-marinated egg. Stay tuned for more details on Chick’n Rice, like the full menu and an exact opening date.