“Are you familiar with the phrase ‘same same but different’?” asks Last Word Hospitality’s Adam Weisblatt. He is referring to an exchange commonly used in Thailand, which also explains the name of his reimagined strip-mall Thai restaurant.
The hospitality experts behind Last Word — Angus McShane, Holly Zack and Weisblatt — had made it their mission to find a small, established business to buy and take over. They found it in Silver Lake's 13-year-old, family recipe–driven Rambutan.
“We were headed toward a sale,” Weisblatt says of their original plan. “We were going to do a Basque wine bar.” But when the trio noticed the way Katy Noochlaor and Annie Daniel — longtime owners of Rambutan Thai — interacted with their customers, they opted instead to collaborate.
“Everybody knows them," Weisblatt says. "They just take such good care of people." The result is Same Same, a wine and beer bar that serves Thai food. Though Noochlaor and Daniel will still be cooking out of the same kitchen, the menu has been revamped to incorporate more traditional Thai food to appeal to adventurous palates.
"Thirteen years ago, if you tried to serve traditional Thai food, people would just be sweating and upset,” Weisblatt says. "Palates have changed, and people want the fish sauce and the herbs and all the garlic and the chili.” In addition to dishes such as extremely spicy minced chicken larb and colorful barbecued pork Jade noodles, Same Same will offer bar bites and blackboard specials like pork buns stuffed with Thai spice-braised pork belly and chutney, and grilled pork skewers with sweet chili dipping sauce.
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Like any beloved neighborhood spot, Rambutan had a devoted following that the new owners hope to maintain. Rambutan Thai will remain online and to-go orders will be easily accessible through a window labeled "Rambutan To-Go."
Same Same's bar showcases Zack's curated yet affordable wine list, and the new design has extended the bar all the way to the back of the restaurant. In fact, the trio considers the space to be more of a bar than a restaurant; all orders will be placed with the bartender.
When asked what exactly the difference is between a restaurant and a bar that serves food, Weisblatt smiles. "The music levels. I’ve been working on this playlist for six months.”
Same Same, 2835 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; samesamethai.com.