Time Out says
Exceptional, inventive dishes at Baroo, a tiny Hollywood standout, embody the best of strip mall dining in LA.
Underground—or at least understated—dining has come to be a point of pride for both LA restaurants and the diners who frequent them. A hole-in-the-wall sushi spot, a pop-up dinner party, a restaurant manned by a revered chef but without any actual signage—secrecy, in some form or another, now seems to generate as much interest as farmers’ market produce and avocado toast.
Baroo does not have a sign indicating its presence. The small, minimalist space is in a Hollywood strip mall, steps away from Zumba studios and the Hollywood cemetery. Chef and owner Kwang Uh (who worked at the acclaimed Noma) and his friend Matthew Kim are the only two employees here; on a recent night, Uh took our order, cooked the food and acted as our server, all while hopping back and forth between the kitchen and register. It is astounding, then, that such phenomenal food can come out of such a frenetic environment. Fermentation, as well as local and sustainable ingredients, presides over most dishes—a pickle sampler lets you choose from veggies like shiso beet, curry cauliflower, kimchi and sweet potatoes, and arrives in small scoops that you may or may not have trouble picking up with chopsticks. A bowl of kimchi fried rice (gluten-free and vegetarian, as are most of Baroo’s dishes) is a beautiful mess of pineapple fermented kimchi, basmati rice, a wobbling sous vide egg and a kaleidoscope of color: yellow pineapple salsa, purple potato chips and forest green seaweed.
Color, in fact, seems to dominate most dishes here. A bibim salad takes on a Nickelodeon-esque quality with dollops of neon green herbs coulis and orange gochujang and san marzano dressing. A layered forkful might include quinoa and bulgur, magenta radish slices and passion fruit powder—there is so much going on, that after a while you’d be wise to surrender to the flavors and stop trying to identify everything. Of the non-vegetarian dishes, I was floored by Baroo’s ragu style, a tangle of homemade pappardelle topped with oxtail ragu and cherry tomatoes and accompanied by airy tendon puffs. When Uh emerged from the kitchen to collect our demolished plate, my compliments seemed to make him want to retreat further into the restaurant. So after the passion fruit tart—a dreamy creation of macha yuzu chiffon, passion fruit curd and elderflower meringue—I just gave him a small wave before leaving. Praise doesn’t seem to be the end goal for Uh’s tiny, remarkable restaurant in Hollywood—but I can’t help but heap it on Baroo anyway.
What to Eat: The bibim salad ($9). The kimchi fried rice ($9). The Baroo's ragu style ($15). The passion fruit tart ($7).
What to Drink: A few shelves in the back of Baroo hold jars and canisters of fermented fruits, vegetables and teas, depicting a scene that looks like something out of Frankenstein’s lab. The results, though, are far more palatable, including an array of kombucha ($3) that diners can pluck from a small fridge near the cash register. Lemon verbena offers a healthy acidic kick, while elderflower, rose and passion fruit, and raspberry all lean towards the sweeter side. There is also coffee from Bicycle Coffee.
Where to Sit: Wherever you can find room. A communal table and a few stools against the counter are your only options—if those fill up, consider the curb outside.
5706 Santa Monica Blvd
|Opening hours:||Tue-Sat 11am-9pm; Sun 5-9pm|
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Users say (7)
Average User Rating
4.7 / 5
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I really enjoyed Baroo - the food is so unique and I love that the menu is limited but ever changing so you can keep coming back to try specials. My favorite dish was the shrimp toast which was a special that night, highly recommend if it is available when you go! I didn't really mind that it is in a strip mall, it kinda adds to the experience and makes you feel like you are "in the know" about somewhere special. I do think they could do a little bit to dress the spot up a bit but then maybe they'd have to up the prices. Overall, it is a cool place to try interesting dishes at a very attainable price point.
The ambiance isn't anything exciting. But the food makes up for that and then some! This place focuses on fermentation and creating amazing and unique flavors. It is a total departure and fun different vibe compared to almost every other restaurant in the city. Both the Kimchi fried rice & the Oxtail ragu are amazing. And to be honest, nearly everything here is meticulously crafted and incredible. You should absolutely stop by to check it out. Not to mention, it is a reasonable price for such delicious and interesting food.
I didn't recognize half of the ingredients listed, I wasn't quite sure how fermentation would factor into a meal beyond kimchi or pickles, but I couldn't have enjoyed the mystery more. This unassuming (signless) storefront in a very nondescript Hollywood strip mall packs a lot of excitement into a small, focused menu. Get a bunch of things to share, and make sure you add some pickles too. I highly recommend the Oxtail Ragu + Gim (Seaweed)
What a special little spot. The food is so delicious and inventive, you're never totally sure what you're getting into when you order a dish—but you really can't go wrong here. The owners are so gracious and even as the spot has blown up, you can still expect great service and top notch food, including some really mind-blowing specials, and of course, the super-tart kombuchas.
Amazing food like nothing else in LA for surprisingly affordable prices considering the level of craft. It's been on "hiatus" BUT IS FINALLY BACK and is the only restaurant I've ever eaten at that I honestly felt a sense of loss for because there's nowhere else that makes food like this. If you only understand a few words on the menu (mine included kimchi, rice, and ragu), DON'T WORRY. All of the dishes are delicious and perfectly seasoned. The portions are perfect, you'll feel full and satisfied without wanting to burst. No matter what you get, each dish feels light and healthy, even if it's the rich oxtail ragu (with homemade pasta mmmm).
Be aware, it's dine-in only, and it's a small space (order at the counter), so you might have to wait (the chef and owner operate the place by themselves)/have difficulty finding a place to sit, but IT'S WORTH IT. Parking can sometimes be found in strip mall's lot, but otherwise you can usually find parking on Wilton around the corner. Also be sure to sample a cracker or candy from the bowls next to the register! Odd rice crisps or cake Oreos, you never know what you'll get!
I hope takeout is in their future, but if it's not, I expect I will be a regular since I thankfully work down the street. THANK YOU FOR COMING BACK BAROO.
Amazing, elevated cuisine. This is one of those places where the food tastes as good as it looks. Lives up to all the hype. The work ethic and craftsmanship of the owners/chefs are impressive.
Baroo is a welcome addition to the blooming food scene on the East Side stretch of Santa Monica ave. The dishes are unique and delicious as well as meticulously plated. It's wonder how affordable the menu items are considering the quality of ingredients and care Chef Kwang puts into each dish. I'd suggest having the Noorook or ragu...or both.