It's a good thing more people didn't drive past 4100 Bar last night in Silver Lake, or there might have been an accident from all the drivers craning their neck to see what was happening out front. Even on the sidewalk, smokers from the bar or late-night walkers down Sunset would twist their heads around, trying to find the meaning behind a fold-out table, a propane tank and a wide, black wok.
Today, we know the answer. Pranom, a Thai street food pop-up, is here. And now, instead of bacon-wrapped hot dogs, taco trucks or bad-decision drive-thru food, you can indulge in an $8 takeout box of chicken pad thai, right there on the sidewalk. They even take credit cards.
"They" is actually one man, Dream Kasestatad, a Hollywood actor and producer who still has pad thai in his blood. "This is my family's recipe," Kasestatad says, tossing bean sprouts into a searing wok that's already sizzling with chicken, noodles and dried shrimp. "I grew up in Thai restaurants." As the story goes, his grandmother owned and operated a Thai eatery in Lubbock, Texas, but Kasestatad's acting hopes took him west. Then, in the year of his 30th birthday, he found his culinary roots pushing back up at him.
"It was like a country song: When I turned 30 I lost my job, my girlfriend, everything. So I started popping up places, making food on the street because I still knew how to cook. Pad thai kept a roof over my head."
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That was months ago. Since then, the simple pop-up known as Pranom has continued to hum along, even bouncing in and out of restaurant kitchens once or twice. First, there was Biscuit Cafe in West Hollywood, followed closely by a one-night stand at the Charleston in Santa Monica. For gigs like that, Kasestatad has been working with friends like Steven Papa, Phil Eaddy and chef Chris Eddy, who was chef de cuisine at the original Campanile and now heads up its LAX outpost inside the Tom Bradley terminal.
There are plans for more restaurant pop-ups as well, at the Wilshire in Santa Monica and Angel City Brewing in the Arts District. But until then, Pranom and Dream Kasestatad will still be turning heads on the sidewalk in front of a few bars around town. Mondays are reserved for Harvard & Stone, Tuesdays are a welcome return to 4100 Bar, and Wednesdays are for Bar Lubitsch. If you want to find Pranom anywhere else, you'll just have to look.
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