The greater Boston area is full of Thai restaurants, but most serve the standard assortment of Thai-American dishes, from pad thai to mix-and-match curry dishes and not much else. But some new restaurants are beginning to diverge from that formula, serving up Thai dishes that diners don’t see as often around here, and Somerville’s Davis Square may be at the hub of this welcome development.
A noodle shop called Dakzen (stylized as DakZen) could open in the neighborhood sometime this summer, specializing in Thai soups. The restaurant takes its name from an informal Thai word that means “chow down” and a word for “noodles,” and the name matches the vibe: It’ll be a casual place to dig into street food-style dishes.
The goal is to make diners feel “like being at your close friend’s house, where you can come any time and whenever you want,” said Nutthachai Chaojaroenpong, a rep for the restaurant. “We just want to make its atmosphere similar to street food in Thailand, where you can just simply walk in, order, and eat.”
The bulk of Dakzen’s focus will be on a street food-style noodle soup where the broth is simmered for hours with herbs and spices. The dishes will be customizable, with a “your bowl, your way” policy, where diners can choose from eight kinds of noodles, four broths, and several toppings.
There will also be signature soup options, including boat noodles, a dish that has a rich history in Thailand. It’s a dense soup, with pork blood mixed and cooked into the broth. Other dishes include yen ta fo (with sweet, sour, and spicy flavors, typically served with crunchy squid or seafood), tom yum noodles, and tiew hang (a dry version of yellow noodles served with barbecue pork, wonton, vegetables, and fish balls). Dakzen will also offer khao soi, a curry noodle dish popular in northern Thailand.
Other menu items will include khao moo dang (barbecue pork with jasmine rice) and familiar stir-fried noodle dishes like pad see ew and pad thai.
While Dakzen does have a specific location planned for its hopeful summer opening, it’s taking the place of a Davis Square restaurant that currently remains in operation and is not yet ready to announce its closure. Stay tuned to Dakzen’s social media pages (Facebook, Instagram) for updates on its address and opening timeline.
Elsewhere in the neighborhood, the recently opened Kor Tor Mor (24 College Ave., Somerville) is also serving up Thai street food, including the aforementioned khao moo dang. And close by in Porter Square, Sugar & Spice (1933 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge) is a longtime hidden gem that serves a menu packed with some of the same noodle soups Dakzen will serve, including boat noodles, yen ta fo, and khao soi. In fact, Sugar & Spice’s guay jub — a soup with a five-spice broth, crispy pork, tofu, and rolled up noodles — is an Eater Boston favorite.