A year after bringing popular Palo Alto Indonesian restaurant Indo to San Francisco, restaurateurs Bryan Lew and Tommy Charoen are switching gears in the Castro. They’ll convert what’s now Indo at 4039 18th Street (at Hartford Street) to a location of Rooster & Rice, the growing khao mun gai mini-chain they also run.
Lew and Charoen co-founded Rooster & Rice in 2015, serving Thai chicken in a casual, counter-service and to-go environment at three San Francisco locations. The “original” version, a bestseller, is poached chicken breast and thigh over fragrant jasmine rice with garnish and a side of chicken broth ($12), and variations include the Marina (all breast, skinless, and brown rice) and the Paleo (seasonal veggies instead of rice).
Last year, Rooster & Rice merged with competitor Chick’n Rice, another khao mun gai-focused chain founded by the creators of delivery operation Caviar. Rooster & Rice now operates in Pleasanton and San Jose, too.
The final evening for Indo’s dinner of martabak (stuffed roti) and lamb korma in the Castro is Saturday, March 16. “It’s sad,” says Lew of the closure. Despite positive reviews, San Francisco’s Indo never achieved the same success as its older Palo Alto sibling — which will remain open as usual.
But Lew is optimistic about the change. “We hope that Rooster & Rice will be a solid quick option addition to the neighborhood,” he says. “We hope that with longer hours and delivery we can reach more neighborhoods and become a new staple in the Castro.” The neighborhood already boasts one option for Thai chicken: Gai chicken Rice on 16th Street, which opened in December.
The switch will happen in a flash: Rooster & Rice could open as soon as Tuesday, March 19, for lunch and dinner. All the staff will stay on, with some moving to Indo in Palo Alto. In the past months, Indo has played host to a San Francisco offshoot of San Bruno brunch sensation Morning Wood — that’s over for now with Indo’s switch to Rooster & Rice.
When it’s fully up and running, Rooster & Rice will be open in the Castro from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.