We're not very good at keeping secrets.
Apparently, neither is Bangkok native Golf "Kevin" Seesod. The sign on his self-proclaimed "secret" restaurant, Darabar, in the back of a Hollywood Boulevard strip mall, reveals its hook straightaway. Secret or not, Darabar is helping to redefine the food in Thai Town.
The beaded chandeliers, stainless-steel bar and brown pleather banquettes give Darabar a clubby vibe, but the food is more reminiscent of the best Thai Town dives.
Skip the pad Thai and order dazzling plates like Khao Clook Kapi ($8). This dish of shrimp-paste fried rice is presented like Korean bibimbap, sporting piles of shredded omelet, tart green apple, sweet pork sausage and more.
Crunchy Pork Soup ($6.50) was pure umami, the cinnamon- and soy-rich broth overflowing with pork offal--including funky liver, lung and crispy fried belly--plus hard-boiled egg and crunchy fried garlic.
Most impressive of all was the Ka-Nom-Jeen 4 Park Thai Rice (pictured; $9), which featured four springy rice vermicelli buns and an equal number of curries. We were smitten by both the murky fish curry with spinach and chile, and the darker sauce that touted crumbled pork and firm coagulated pork blood.
Head to Darabar and be daring.
Darabar, 5112 Hollywood Blvd., Thai Town; 323-668-2717 or darabarthai.com