March 20, 2014

What I Ate: Chan Darae Hollywood

Last week, after watching The Grand Budapest Hotel, Kevin and I decided to stop by local Thai restaurant Chan Darae for a late lunch/early dinner. About a year ago, my best friend Nisa left her job at American Apparel's web department to take over management at Chan Darae. The restaurant had been in the family for over 35 years, and she had a vision of revamping it with a fresh new look and curated menu. Last year, I had worked on the branding and menu redesign of their family's other restaurant Bamboo Thai Bistro in Redondo Beach and never had the chance to try out this one.

We started off with the Shrimp Toast which I totally forgot to take a picture of. We then realized when the Deep-Fried Green Papaya Salad came out that we might have accidentally ordered too much fried food. (The Shrimp Toast was fried!) Luckily, the Shrimp Toast was served with a light & refreshing cucumber salad that help balance out the heaviness of the toast.

Deep-Fried Green Papaya Salad
The Deep-Fried Green Papaya Salad was a dish that Nisa was experimenting with that currently isn't on the menu. There's a possibility it might be added in the future.

The main dish, which we were splitting, was the Spicy Boat Noodles. The broth was a flavorful beef broth with a kick of spice. All the meat was tender and it had my favorite: beef meatballs (bò viên in Vietnamese). The best way I could describe this soup is that it's a good, solid Southeast Asian noodle soup. If you like Vietnamese phở, you'll most likely like this. In comparison to Vietnamese noodle soups, I would say this was like a mix of phở and bún bò huế.

Spicy Boat Noodles
During our meal, Nisa's sister Alisa came by and asked what we had for appetizers. She asked if we had gotten the "Spicy Fries" and we said we debated about it but ended up not getting it. She then replied, "You gotta have the Spicy Fries! They're so good! You gotta do it!" And next thing we knew, they magically appeared on our table.

Spicy Fries – tossed with Serrano peppers & fish sauce, served with Sriracha Ketchup (half order)
When it came time for dessert, we were really full but I just couldn't say "No" because I really love their Coconut Ice Cream & Banana Samosas. It's the same dessert they serve at their other restaurant and it's just so perfect! The coconut ice cream is non-dairy so it's great for lactose intolerant peeps AND it doesn't feel super heavy. Together with the fried banana samosas, it's a nice balance of creamy and crunchy.

Coconut Ice Cream & Banana Samosas
So if you're ever around the ArcLight or Amoeba in Hollywood and have a Thai food craving, I definitely recommend giving Chan Darae a try. They also have the best Happy Hour prices in the area!

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