Is Baroo the Best?
Do you really want to take the test?
By The FoodBoomBloggerWest
Welcome to a cutting edge food lab, but that’s the only welcome you’re gonna get. Yes, I’m guilty. I wanted to bag Baroo considering the bucket of ink bestowed on this spot lauding it as the best of L A and in the top fifty in the country. The guy that wrote that also tailored the Emperor’s clothing. Yes, the place is making interesting, compilations of artistic, stylish, attractive small bowls of rice-y things better suited to a kiosk in the lobby of the Broad Museum. I get that no one will have these ingredients in their pantry or the time to pound something to powder that was clinging to the Redondo Beach pier pylons the day before.
This match box with 16 seats serves seedy dishes in a seedy strip mall touting no sign, no parking, no decor, and no service. Maybe rename it Nah-roo?
The interior is something between a Midwestern Meth Lab and a neighborhood market in a 3rd World country slum. Anyway you spin it the place is a dump, albeit a reasonably clean one. There is a single communal table, and some limited counter space facing some plain dry wall and a 4 seat chef’s bar with no chef. A Michelin star doing a pop-up in a segregation unit at Pelican Bay State Prison. There is a rack of fermenting odds and ends in the dining area fortunately all sealed tightly so as not to give off that Corpse Flower fragrance. It looks like something out of American Horror Story. Lady Gaga joining us?
The menu is scribbled on some blackboard sheets on the wall, and rather than describe the dishes I will invite you to view the menu photos and appreciate all the hazarai they throw in the bowls.
The Staff: Non-existent. Ain’t nobody home and no one to say “Shit howdy, y’all. Welcome!” Probably no one really cares if you are there. You are a food prol following the herd to bag the wild Baroo and I think they think you won’t appreciate what they are doing anyway so why bother saying hello unless you are Jonathan Gold showing up for the umteenth time?
Momufuko-Ko in NY is a modern legend. It too is a small place and like Baroo they don’t really engage with their patrons after punishing you to snag a table. Well, they are a Dale Carnegie Charm Course compared to Baroo where the staff is simply Ba-rude. It is more important for the Barooistas to cook what they cook then for you to like what they cook. That all denigrates the experience of dining out.
Sometimes there is a fine line between those we revere and those we send to Pelican Bay, and sometimes there is a fine line between great food and the pile in the composter.
Is the food good? Mostly yes, very. Is it the best in L. A.? Most assuredly not. It is essentially Sqirl off it’s meds.
The Food: Pickled Vegetables were nothing special. Red onions which your kids can make in ten minutes. Pineapple Juice brined Cabbage doled (sorry) out in a small insipid clump, and Watermelon Rind never great no matter what you do to it. It was crunchy and funky in that umami arm pit sorta way.
Bibam Salad. Either they cleaned out the walk-in or this was a labor intensive prep pf curls and swirls, shreds and shavings (which also describes the floor at closing time in a Fantastic Sam’s). It was bright and fresh and had a slow crawl of chili on the back swing.
Kimchee Fried Rice was just that.
Asian Fever was Kimchee Fried Rice on Steroids. It was a darker spicier version. Yes, it was spicer and had a floral after taste as if a squeeze of Shampoo was used to bind it. Were both the rice dishes tasty in a risotto-esque kinda way? Yup. They was. Something orgasmic? No. Maybe just breathing hard.
The Baroo Ragu made me blue I didn’t order two. House made Fettuccine stored everywhere, on cookbooks, on top of the microwave, on the sous vide machine. Good thing they didn’t ask me to hold a tray while I ate. Now we’re talking something worthy of Angelini Osteria. The pasta was anointed with long simmered 0x Tail (cow tail to you), and was the high water mark for what the mysterians were doing in the kitchen.
Booze? Nope. Sneak in a sixer of icy Pacifico, and drink’em low. I don’t know if there is beerage policy. Maybe that’s the way to smoke the staff out the back room to engage with you. Instead, you get Elderflower Juice. It approached Spanish Sidre for being an acquired taste along with the Lemon Verbena which is better whipped into a vinaigrette than slurped with your K-Bowls.
Dessert? Ain’t nuthin’ here for you, Homes. Go up the street to Monarca Bakery.
0Kay, this sounded harsh, but if you’re supposed to be the best, then be the best. Shouldn’t dining out appeal to all the senses? Plus, maybe add a pinch of pleasant and appreciative staff schmoozing the boozeless patrons?
PS: Jonathan Gold, please explain it. What did I miss here besides dinner at Alimento?