The team behind Davis Square Thai stunner Dakzen is working on opening a second restaurant nearby: Jakingrass is currently being built out at 54 Elm St. in Somerville, a short walk from Porter Square. The restaurant will serve “Asian fusion dishes with an authentic [taste] of each category,” Dakzen chief executive officer George P. Pengs tells Eater, such as “a taste of Thailand’s authentic curry rice plate” and grilled and fried dishes with “authentic marinated ingredients” such as cilantro root. He describes the concept as “funky” and meant to offer a “new generation of authentic Asian street foods.”
The name “Jakingrass” refers to “infinity and no rules of delicacy,” says Pengs, noting that the restaurant will feature “out-of-the-box” recipes. “We are trying to make some revolution for the restaurant industry around Boston,” he says, “so people or foodies could experience something new ... without any travel far away.”
The restaurant isn’t announcing an opening timeline yet, Pengs says, as the team is currently waiting on a permit, but early renderings of the space show a casual vibe with counter ordering and bright yellow accents reminiscent of Dakzen’s khao soi-inspired sunny yellow branding.
When Dakzen opened in mid-2018, it quickly gained an enthusiastic following for its bold and concise Thai street food menu that didn’t mirror what most other Thai restaurants in Boston were doing. The young team wanted to showcase dishes they were craving from home, even if they were less familiar to non-Thai diners, and it has proven to be a winning formula. “We want to change the mindset [of the older generation of Thai restaurant owners in Boston],” said former Dakzen CEO and president Panupak Kraiwong in 2019. “American people really love what we eat, and that’s how they shift from being Boston Thai to being authentic Thai.”
The restaurant is under different management these days, but the focus and excellence haven’t changed. Much of the menu is still the same as it was when it opened — including the best khao soi around — but Pengs and the team like to experiment with lots of specials and additions as well. Those who haven’t visited in a while should take a look at the “daily pre-made” section of the menu, which currently features dishes such as kra duk moo nam dang, spicy garlic pork spareribs, and kai pa-lo, stewed pork belly with egg and tofu.
Keep tabs on the forthcoming Jakingrass on Instagram.