We popped in for a quick dinner last night during Dakzen’s soft opening week. They have a slightly limited soft opening menu- actually, plenty of options and they should stick with what they have, and do it well, rather than branch out in the future. The space has been nicely redone, although I’m not sure how some diners will feel about the backless stools as the only option for seating. Ordering is at the counter and your number is called when food is ready. It wasn’t clear to me if that’s the model they’ll continue with or if table service is planned for the future.
Since we didn’t have sprouts with us, we went for two spicy dishes to share: khao soi and pad kee mao. I like that their menu gives a brief description of each dish, including what region it’s from or famous in. The khao soi was all in one bowl and shredded chicken was the protein used. The broth was delicious with a perfect heat level. I liked the hard boiled egg, which is not something present in either Cha Yen or Pok Pok NY’s khao soi- my two barometers of excellent Thai food. I was not as thrilled that everything was pre-mixed; I’m used to pickled radish and onion and sometimes other toppings being on the side to be added at the table. The shredded chicken was a little odd- it might have been poached and seemed a bit wet and flavorless. I would have preferred a choice of protein or at least a more flavorful chicken. Crunchy noodles on top and egg noodles in the broth were both good. Celery in the broth was a bit out of place but not a deal breaker.
The pad kee mao was a bit heavy on the very-lightly-cooked onions for me. I am always disappointed when a dish consists of a high percentage of mostly raw onions and/or bell peppers- I don’t regard them as a main ingredient, and feel like the chef is trying to skimp elsewhere. I’ve had this complaint about Dumpling Kitchen in Somerville as well, and actually don’t order from them any more because of it. Noodles and chicken (here we were given a choice of protein and I froze and went with chicken because I had been planning to pick beef in the khao soi) were fine. I liked the copious sprays of green peppercorns stir fried along in the dish.
We’ll definitely be back to try a wider variety of dishes, and I’m cheering for these guys because that space has been occupied by such sub-par Thai restaurants for so long. I’ll be curious to see how they do with quantities for take out; we did finish every scrap on our plates and then I had to take my dining companion out for a huge ice cream sundae to top off his calories lest he run out of fuel before the next meal. It was either that or shots of olive oil like they do in base camp on Everest. (Sadly, I never need to top off my calories). Rambling onwards, that’s just to say the quantities seemed small for the price and we would have needed 3 entrees to fill the two of us up for dinner. Curious to hear others’ experiences.