Chick’n Rice, a Berkeley Thai restaurant for khao mun gai and other quick-service items, is expanding with a second location opening in San Jose in mid-March. Founded by the creators of delivery service Caviar, Chick’n Rice is that group’s next big venture after selling their first business to mobile payments company Square. Co-owner Vince Cao tells Eater SF that the San Jose location, at 1078 E Brokaw Road #40, could be just the latest in a coming flock of Chick’n Rice restaurants.
Cao and his partners (John Keh, Jason Wang, and Shawn Tsao) are in good company, betting big on a dish and set of flavors that others — like Hawking Bird in Oakland and Rooster & Rice in San Francisco — are also pursuing as a fast-casual menu item of choice. Khao mun gai is a Thai and Hainese chicken and rice dish in which chicken is typically poached and served over rice cooked in chicken broth or fat. For their version, Chick’n Rice recruited Bob Rattakul, a restaurateur they met in Bangkok. They serve it in small ($9) and regular ($10) sizes with options like tofu or braised pork instead of chicken, packaged in single-use wooden bento boxes with extra broth on the side.
“Berkeley’s going really well for us,” says Cao. “We’ve learned a lot from feedback, and along with our core items, we’ve added some items geared to college students who were telling us that there were some grab and go items they wanted to see — a KMG roll, house fried rice, and popcorn style chicken at an even lower price point than our core items.”
To hone their menu in Berkeley, where they opened in the Fall, the team hired a new chef, Gregory Delgadillo, in January. And for San Jose, he’s designing some seasonal sides, but the menu’s focus will remain khao mun gai dishes and variations. The location, in a retail center with other fast restaurant options, is the former home of dessert shop called Snowy Village.
Peering farther down the road, Cao says “we’re looking [for spaces] on a very regular basis,” — but for the moment, he’s not counting his restaurants before they hatch.