Baroo is permanently closed
photo credit: Holly Liss
Many restaurants claim to do things differently - whether that’s letting you order from a computer or squirting a syringe of sea foam into your mouth and slapping you across the face. But even if you're into those weird things, how many times are you actually walking out of those restaurants planning to go back? You were there to experiment. You came, you had fun, but you don’t see a need to do it again.
Baroo, is in every sense of the word, an experiment. But it’s also an experiment you will go back to again and again.
Located on a strange stretch of Santa Monica Blvd. in East Hollywood, Baroo is in the middle of a run-down strip mall with almost zero signage, save for an old faded “Thai Food” sign above the door. There’s very little indication from the outside what this place is going to be like, and you're probably nervous. But then you go inside, and all fears subside. With only one long communal table and a few stools against the wall, it’s definitely cramped. But the floor-to-ceiling windows keep things bright and casual. It feels like you’re in a cute Abbot Kinney coffee shop that does well on Instragram, except you’re in a dingy strip mall, and the chefs in the back are playing around with fermentation.
So, what's fermentation exactly? We have no idea. But if this is it, we're very thankful to have it in our lives. There’s a ragu pasta with faux-oxtail (another delicious mystery ingredient) topped with a fried egg and tendon puffs, a fermented-pineapple kimchi fried rice, and a pickle platter with red onions, watermelon, and other things you would never think to pickle. This is experimental comfort food being cooked up in a charming little laboratory. And the beauty is you can get one dish by yourself and be totally satisfied - or three of you can order the entire menu and not feel like you're going to die afterwards. Either way, you'll feel like you've done Baroo right.
There are no reservations, everything’s under $15, and if you go early, you can be in and out in a half an hour. But know this - most people are here solely to eat the food, think about the food, and then talk about it amongst themselves. Bringing a friend or coworker or even a casual date when you want to shake things up wouldn't be weird - as long as your eating company is as excited and on-board with the whole experience as you are.
Baroo proves that just because you’re trying to do something different, doesn’t mean you have to take yourself too seriously. And that’s an experiment everybody should try.
Baroo's Ragu Style
There’s frankly not one thing on Baroo’s menu we wouldn’t order, but the ragu is definitely the place to start. We have no idea what that faux-oxtail is made out of, but we’re assuming it’s magic. The whole thing is rich, hearty, and not at all how momma makes it.
Kimchi Fried Rice
Probably the most popular dish here, the kimchi fried rice is unlike any fried rice you’ve had before. It’s spicy, heavily fermented, and you’re definitely ordering the bacon on top.
There’s so many things you need to eat here, you’re going to assume the pickle plate is not one of them. You’re wrong. This thing basically acts as a template for how everything else coming out of the kitchen works, and also to tell you, these guys know what the fck they’re doing.
Not our favorite thing here, but a much needed break-up amongst the heartier dishes. Plus a 16+ vegetable list that we can't totally pronounce is just impressive for one little bowl.
The basmati rice-based dish, with coconut foam and dried shrimp, is definitely on the lighter side and that’s good news when you realize ordering the whole menu was probably a bit aggressive.
Probably due to its name sounding more like a muscle disability than a pasta, Celeriac goes largely unnoticed on Baroo’s menu. But it is tremendous. Celery roots, pickled mustard seeds, and crispy chips. Don’t think, just eat.