(Kelly & I lunching at Starry Kitchen)
I had an amazing, scrumptious food experience today with my friend Kelly. Everything was 5 stars good. The staff was extremely nice, but I am torn... Read on to find out why. Hmph... where should I start? So let me start out by telling you the story of Starry Kitchen. It is located in Downtown LA across from MOCA and the Walt Disney Concert Hall at 350 South Grand Ave. Los Angeles, CA. It had really humble beginnings. Basically a young couple (Thi & Nguyen) started cooking in their apartment after Thi was fired from her previous advertising job. Cooking was just a hobby for her but soon their apartment turned into a full on mini restaurant that simply asked their guests for $5 donations. Guests had to sneak into their apartment, enter in secret codes to get into the gates, etc. Hardcore right? That is, until a health inspector showed up and shut down their business. Boo... but then the couple opened a cafe/restaurant in Downtown LA. The food is delicious, first of all and the total comes out to about $8.50 per meal. It's fusion food and the best part is that the menu changes every week. New dishes are rotated in and out. Nguyen actually told us that after he rotated their famous tofu balls out, he actually got hate mail in his inbox. Awesome!
So this is how Starry Kitchen works. Here is this week's menu. You join their facebook fan page for updates by clicking here.
It's a simple 1, 2, 3 process. You choose what meat you want, what type of vessel (i.e. bread, wrap, etc.) you want to hold it, and then a side dish! Under the meat section for this week was the Lemongrass Chicken, Chinese Hoison Burger, "Nom Nom" Pork, Lemongrass Tofu, & Spicy Crab Cakes aka the "Crack Crab Cakes." Yes, they are THAT good. Then you can choose whether you would like your meat placed in various salads, tortilla wraps, or bahn mi sandwiches. And last but not least, then you choose something from their daily sides. Let's go on to what we ate.
After doing our 1,2,3's we ended up with this piece of amazingness. This is the Spicy Crab Cakes with Mayo & Wasabi in a Tortilla Wrap. These crab cakes were soooo good and the wasabi was not too spicy but you could still taste it inside. The cucumbers inside also complemented the crab cakes really well. It was delicious or as Kelly said over and over again !!!Scrumptious!!!! Our side dish we chose for this dish was the cold slaw, which was mixed with sesame sauce and honey. Yum!
But the standout dish was the "Nom Nom" Pork. Wow! Amazing. First of all, the bahn mi bread was fresh and amazing. The pork tasted as if Taiwanese sasuage had a baby with amazing Vietnamese Nem Nuong and produced a hybrid of amazingness. It was just THAT good. For our side dish, we ordered Curry Rice which was good but not as good as the Curry Rice I've had at Curry House. It was still good though!
Now onto the cons to this place. Downtown LA has the worst parking. Starry Kitchen tells you to park in the American Plaza and get validated so that you only pay $3. If you forget to validate the parking becomes $50. $3 is the cheapest parking you can find. The public parking next to them is $6.50 and $8. Okay... fine. The designated parking lot is a mess! The entrances and exits are so small and the parking lot was just full on confusing. It was like going in a maze. Parking is usually free so if I'm gonna spend $3 I expect red carpet and everything. This was plain crap, but it's Downtown so I guess there's no much you can do about it. Secondly, all the one way streets were horrible. Going into oncoming traffic is not a good thing. But even with these cons and the fact that I drove over 45 minutes to get here, I felt that it was still worth it because the food was that good. That was until... I got something to go.
I was raving about how amazing this place was to the BF who then wanted to get in on some on the goodness so I bought him a Hoison Beef Hamburger in a Bahn Mi to go. I chose the Jap Chae as his side dish. I was so excited that he was going to be wowed because Kelly and I had such a good experience. I was super careful not to spoil the taste. I had them separate the sauces so that the bread would not get soggy and everything! So I delivered the dish to him and he was super disappointed as was I. I couldn't believe that something could taste bleh from Starry Kitchen. I had such high hopes. I told him to give them the benefit of the doubt since I did have to drive 45 minutes home with the food, but he was not happy and honestly neither was I. Maybe the hoison burger would have been good if he had eaten it there? I don't know but I think it will be near impossible to drag him there to give it another go. Plus, another downside to Starry Kitchen is that they have pretty bad hours. They only open from Monday-Friday from 11-3PM.
So now you know why. I'm honestly extremely torn. For me, there was no doubt in my mind that it was 5 stars perfect but after having a taste of the to go I ordered I feel as though I'm going to be torn until I go back again to eat again. By the way, next week they are switching out the "Crack Crab Cakes." Darn... those things are yummy. And the "Nom Nom" Pork... is still going to be on the menu next week. I don't know what to do. I'm so confused now. 5 stars? 4 stars? But if you just judge the to go by itself it would have been a 2 star. The Bf made a point. "Food should be good no matter if it's to go or not. The Hat's pastrami sandwiches taste good even days in the fridge." Yes... but he hasn't had Starry Kitchen's Crab Cakes or "Nom Nom" Pork. I don't know... Kelly & I loved it.
Happy Eatings. You can also visit their website here to see what dishes they have rotating in and out each week! Please let me know if anyone tries their other menu items. I'd love to hear if it really is a problem with their take out or not.