By Eric Twardzik · 11/21/2019    Somerville · Thai · $

No matter how loyal you may be to your longtime local Thai takeout, we urge you to make a detour to Dakzen. Essentially a Bangkok street food stall with four walls and a ceiling, this tiny noodle joint just outside of Davis Square is doing Thai its own way—and we are here for it.

Broths that require up to five hours of simmering impart deep, rich flavors into Dakzen’s noodle soups, while wildly divergent toppings create winning contrasts. The Khao Soi softens crunchy pork belly and wonton noodles in a curry as sweet and tangy as its fillings are savory and crisp. The Tom Yum Noodles Soup mixes briny fish cakes with barbecued and ground pork in a sweet-yet-spicy broth with an umami factor that will keep you slurping. The Ba Mee Moo Dang is split between one bowl filled with a light and silky chicken broth, and another brimming with starchy egg noodles, crunchy pork belly, barbecued pork, and shrimp and pork wontons.

Even the more conventional dishes like Pad Thai or Khao Grapow feature flavors that could spoil your experience of the dish anywhere else. The Pad Thai in particular dials down the saccharine factor to allow sharper and more concentrated flavors to shine, and its gummy noodles are complemented by the crunch of crumbled peanuts and fried shallots.

Adding to the Bangkok-roadside feel are the “Street Snacks,” the standout being the Andouille-style Sai Ua sausage served sliced and crispy with peanuts and julienned ginger, best experienced together in a single bite. When your taste buds feel at risk of sensory overload (in the best way!), reset them with a sip of Thai Iced Tea that’s creamy and sweet enough to qualify as dessert.

Hour-plus wait times are common on weekend nights (even for parties of two), but after adding your name and number to the queue (via a wall-mounted iPad), you can head to nearby Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar or The Painted Burro for a drink while waiting for that text to arrive.

Each table comes with four small condiment jars, which respectively contain sugar (for anything), dried chilis (for noodles), vinegar with jalapeños (for light broth soups), and vinegar with garlic and chilis (for noodles and dark broth soups).

Don’t overlook Dakzen’s potent fish sauce or chili oil. You’ll find both condiments in self-serve jars near the water and utensils station.

Must Haves

  • This creamy, soupy curry from Northern Thailand is filled with egg noodles and a tower of crispy wontons and brightened with a dash of vinegar.

  • This might just become your new version of the Thai classic. Choose the shrimp version to get four plump, head-on crustaceans atop your peanut and scallion-sprinkled dish of noodles and egg.

  • To enjoy this hybrid dish in a traditional way, eat a forkful from the bowl of noodles and pork followed by a sip of broth. But if you wish to combine the two and create a noodle soup from the get-go, you won’t be judged.

  • We like the weight that egg noodles bring to this flavor-packed blend of spicy broth, ground pork, barbecued pork, dry shrimp, fish balls, and fish cakes.

Fun Fact

The restaurant’s name combines two Thai words: dak, a word used to describe the enjoyment of food, and zen, which translates to “noodle.”

Tastes of Dakzen

So good we can't stop writing about it. Read more about Dakzen!

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