Sen Yai, the hip noodle house that serves noodles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, announces it will close up shop at 3384 SE Division St.—just up the street from Pok Pok—PoMo reports. Opened by Andy Ricker (Pok Pok, Whiskey Soda Lounge) in 2013, Sen Yai will close May 9, and on Instagram, Ricker shared this heart-felt message:
Today I announced the closing of my beloved Sen Yai, last day of service May 8th. The numbers just never added up and the future looks less than rosy for the concept given all the changes coming to our industry. We will move a good chunk of the menu down to Whiskey Soda Lounge for lunch service only, and relaunch our breakfast program plus revamp the evening menu as well. All of our employees will be offered new homes in the @pokpokpdx family....So there is some silver lining, but still a pretty sad day for me personally. Onwards #jamuk!
So it's not all doom and gloom and memories of slurping your last kuaytiaw naam soup noodles: Beginning sometime early May, Ricker is expanding hours at his nearby Whiskey Soda Lounge, and you'll find many of Sen Yai's dishes available there, including the under-appreciated Thai-style breakfasts and a new lunch menu of noodle dishes. Dinner doesn't sound as though it will change much at Whiskey Soda, with one major exception: Midnight Fried Chicken, the Thai fried chicken Ricker tracked down with Anthony Bourdain on Parts Unknown: Thailand, will be on the late-night menu, beginning nightly at 10 p.m.
Explaining the reasons for closing to PoMo, Ricker focused on the perception among many that "ethnic" food—whatever that term means today—should be dirt-cheap. Ricker is famous for taking painstaking measures to recreate his favorite dishes from Southeast Asia from scratch, and he says restaurants like his can't compete with low-cost restaurants. In the article, Ricker says, "People say, ‘I can go to a pho restaurant and get a dish twice as big for $8.' I can't compete with a low-cost commodity model."
And here's one last exploding bomb of news: Nate Tilden, the restaurateur with stakes in many restaurants, including Olympia Provisions, Clyde Common, and the soon-to-open Bar Casa Vala, is taking over the Sen Yai space with something called Honky Tonk Taco. More details on that coming shortly.