February 17, 2011

Starry Kitchen

Finally, after a year of shoulda-wouldas, I dined at the infamous "underground 205" restaurant, which is now entirely legit, both legally and foodtastically. {their story here}

While working downtown helped compel me to check SK off my list sooner than later, it was SK's unprecedented move to bring back its fave crowd pleasers in celebration of its one-year birthday week that really pulled the trigger. Besides, a sweet walk down memory lane (existent or not) never hurts. So Chicken Curry, Spicy "Crack" Krab Cakes, Braised Coconut Pork Belly, and Crispy Tofu Balls, thank you for beckoning me to Starry Kitchen's starry kitchen.  Sadly, I wasn't fortunate enough to sample any of the heavy hitters, but even without crack (crab cakes), my appetite and palate were thoroughly satisfied. In other words, yes, SK lives up to all its hype. So whether you go tomorrow (Fri., 2/18 for the last day of their week-long anniversary fete!) or not, whether you work in downtown LA or not, whether you like fusion-y food or not, I encourage you to check SK out.
Because great food + great people = great success.

(1) Pick your protein, (2) Pick your vessel, (3) Pick your side -- say, what?
Don't let the menu overwhelm you like it did me. Simply put: 1) Pick your meat (or veg), (2) Pick how you want to eat it (as a sandwich, wrap, salad, or lunch plate), (3) Pick your side(s). Order at the cash register, pay and pick up your order number and seat yourself. Calm your growling stomach with a beverage and in just a short while, delicious food will be placed before you.

Spicy Vietnamese Salad ("Goi") - side dish

Chinese Hoisin Hamburger as Banh Mi sandwich - Nebraska Angus meatballs marinated in sweet hoisin sauce and topped with a spicy mayo - YUMZ.
The meat was tender, the bread was not too hard, but best of all, that spicy mayo kicked it up to top notch.

Braised beef lunch plate - chunks of beef simmered in lemongrass and 5-spiced stew over brown rice, topped with fresh basil, and a side of Japanese garlic noodles.
I was given very specific instructions by the owner (who pranced around in a sombrero and Mexican poncho -- don't ask) on how to eat the braised beef dish. First, squeeze a lemon wedge in the salt/pepper mixture that comes with the plate. Take a forkful of meat and dunk it in the lemon+salt/pepper before eating. Even though the beef has been cooking in a flavorful stew for hours, the lemon+salt/pepper apparently brings out and accentuates the extra, juicy flavors. Don't know the science behind all that, but I buy it. The plate also comes "au jus," but I didn't use it -- didn't have to. Lastly, the Japanese garlic noodles were superb and garlicky.

Some like it hot. If this means you, SK also marinates its own jalapeno, onion, and carrots which is available at your fancy.

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cuisine: Pan-Asian/ Fusion
location: Downtown LA (in Cal Plaza, a stone's throw away from Casa)
hours: M-F: 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM; Th-Fri: 6:00 PM - 9:30PM
website: { SK | yelp | menu }
attire: Casual
parking: Street on Grand Ave., or structure parking (entrance on Olive). Further parking tips here.
notes: The menu rotates everyday so you could potentially go everyday and try something new. Score!