Eating at Muukata6395 in San Francisco’s Richmond district involves getting hands-on with your food. Mu kratha (sometimes also spelled or known as mookata) is a style of Thai barbecue that commands the attention of diners around the table. The metal mu kratha pan, domed at its center, sits over charcoal as diners grill sliced cuts of marinated rib-eye or chicken over the pan’s slatted curves. Pork broth bubbles gently in a trench at the base of the pan, as bits of vegetables cook in the soup, becoming more and more flavorful as marinade drips into the broth with each sear and flip of meat.
Muukata6395 debuted on Geary Boulevard in March 2023 and it’s one of the city’s new restaurants keeping the lights on until midnight. It’s also quite possibly the Bay Area’s only mu kathra restaurant — or so the Muukata6395 staff claims. It’s attracting both Thai expats missing a taste of home and those new to this style of cooking. “This is exactly the same taste in Thailand,” says Muukata6395 manager Karaked Kungseng. “It’s like going home one more time. A lot of people thank us for opening because they cannot find this anywhere.”
Muukata6395 is the newest restaurant from couple Phornthip Korkiatnun and Ittriuj Niamchan, who own Ginza Sushi on Haight, as well as two locations of Naya Dessert Cafe in San Francisco. Muukata6395 is different than those two businesses, but as fans of mu kathra, the couple decided to take on the challenge and work on the restaurant began in 2021. The couple imported special pans, and installed charcoal grills into the restaurant. Meanwhile, Niamchan — a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu — developed the flavors of the Muukata6395, including the veggie and pork bone broths, the restaurant’s accompanying Thai dishes, and the dipping sauces central to mu kratha.
With mu kratha, diners choose between a small and large set, prepared for one or two people respectively, and receive a chef’s choice assortment of raw meat, seafood, and vegetables — slices of marinated pork shoulder or ribeye, shrimp, scallops, fish balls, and knobs of bok choy and chopped napa cabbage. There’s a choice of rice or noodles and pork or vegetarian broth with the option to make the meal gluten-free if requested. Servers then bring out the food and broth, which the restaurant is happy to refill, as well as the restaurant’s two dipping sauces for the meats. There’s a green seafood sauce that’s become popular with customers, according to Kungseng; it’s made with green chiles, garlic, cilantro roots, and fish sauce, then there’s nam jim jaew, a tamarind-based sauce that hits notes of spiciness, sour, and sweet. It’s a style of food that Kungseng says is perfect for groups of friends and family, for whatever mood one finds themself in. “This kind of food is healing,” Kungseng says. “When you’re having a bad day or good day, every day we eat it.”
Diners who feel lost in the process will get a helping hand from servers who take the time at the start of the meal to explain the cooking and eating process in depth — although as Kungseng says, “It’s a Thai style hot pot, there’s no right or wrong here.” Diners have the option to add on more meat and vegetables to the mu kratha set to keep the dinner going, as well as other dishes to explore, including crispy chicken wings, larb, papaya salad, tom yum fried rice, udon pad kee mao, and more. The restaurant also serves chim chum (also known as jim jum), an Isan-style herbal soup hot pot that’s popular in Thailand.
The story behind the restaurant name Muukata6395 — which Kungseng says customers have compared to a username — is that the owners believe that 6395 is a lucky number. It’s luck not just for the owners, but for the customers who walk in the door, too, Kungseng says. But whether diners believe in good luck or not, the restaurant is already doing the good work of popularizing mu kathra in this corner of San Francisco, bringing groups of people together at the table. “I like the people to understand what we eat back in Thailand besides Thai green curry,” Kungseng says. “We eat that, but not that much. Mu kathra, everyone’s heard about and knows about it, and loves it. We have passion about it.”
Muukata6395 (4217 Geary Boulevard) is open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to midnight.