The collection of sticky rice baskets at Laotian restaurant Thip Khao is shrinking, and co-chef and owner Bobby Pradachith chalks it up to thieves.
Pradachith has even seen a few of them bragging about their exploits on Instagram, so he took to social media yesterday to get the word out. Here's the post that appeared on the Instagram account for Bangkok Golden (Thip Khao's sister restaurant):
Pradachith and his mother chef Seng Luangrat are understandably upset, and it's not just because the baskets are the restaurant's namesake. "Thip Khaos are very personal for the restaurant and our family and we feel disrespected when people take them because they are 'cute' looking," he said.
The vessels are nearly impossible to get in the United States. Luangrat actually traveled all the way back to Laos before opening, handpicked hundreds of the baskets for use in the restaurant, and brought them home in her suitcase. They're even getting difficult to find in Laos. Pradachith said they're handmade by mostly older women because the younger generation is less interested in learning the craft.
Sticky rice is the main staple food in Laos and larger version of the baskets holding the starch are served at every meal. When Thip Khao first opened, every customer received their own individual basket filled with sticky rice. But now the restaurant's stash of baskets has dropped so dramatically that they only serve one portion of rice with each dish that requires it (customers are welcome to ask for more if they need it). "It really hurts," says Pradachith, "When you steal something that has so much rich history to it, and is pretty personal to us and is symbolic to the restaurant."