June 15, 2011

The Adventures at Starry Kitchen

Crack Den Mother. That's what I called myself as a customer of Starry Kitchen in Downtown Los Angeles. Before I got too busy with my last job, I would be at SK at least once a week.

I've called Thi's (aka Kitchen Ninja) food crack. I'm sooo addicted!

So, SK is a crack den. And because I would drag EVERYONE to SK with me, so, I'm the Crack Den Mother, bringing in new Crack Babies.

Nguyen, the husband half of the SK team, loved it.

Now that I'm no longer working Downtown, I've been missing my at-least-once-a-month Starry Kitchen treat. Today I had a chance to pop into town, so I did.

It would've been about a year now that I first set foot at the place. My two friends who have heard about SK's underground origin and wanted to go, so I went with them.

It was seriously love at first bite. And first board slam.

A very energetic and animated Nguyen gave us the schpiel of how to order which accompanied by the slapping of his menu board and a surprise F-Bomb.

"We change our menu every week. We don't fuck around," said Nguyen.

Well, hell, since we're at it. I was fucking loving this place already, and I hadn't even eaten the food yet!

(I know, some people were offended/off-put by Nguyen's antics, but, just as he'd tell you, swearing is a part of him. You don't like it, then move on. He does tone it down in the presence of children, though.)

Oh, and he wasn't kidding about not fucking around either. There are 2 rotating "proteins" on the board, and each of them get 2 weeks on there alternately. So, yes, every week, one item is changed out.

Pair that with 5 different ways you can have your main course: in a wrap, a Vietnamese sandwich, a chopped salad, a Thai Cobb salad, or a lunch plate. Then you choose a side which could be a salad, a noodle of some kind, or a special fried rice. LOTS of variations to keep you interested!

The food totally sealed the deal. Pan-Asian food that tastes like a home-cooked meal. Thi works her magic over these dishes. It may not be a traditional Vietnamese/Thai/Korean etc. food, but the flavor profiles are unmistakably Asian. And yummy. Oh so yummy.

Then I tweeted. And Nguyen would tweet back. And back and forth we went. He does the same with his other foodies and bloggers and tweeps who came through the door.

It was the food that keeps bringing me back but I have to say it's also because the "TWEETment" Nguyen gives to his customers. We do feel like family at SK.

I mean, would I be able to go into any other joint and get this photo with the owner? (Thanks Annette!)

Or this. (Thanks @munke!)

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

I rest my case.

And because the menu changes all the time, I keep coming back for different things. My favorite things are Taiwanese Pork Chops, Spicy Korean Pork/Belly, Crispy Tofu Balls, Spicy Vietnamese Salad, Shallot Fried Rice, Kimchi Fried Rice, Garlic Noodles, Chicken Wing Beer Soup, and Thai Cobb Salad with Lemongrass Chicken (substitute wonton skins for bread). I got to try a few things from their dinner menu over Dine LA week, fried chicken wings were awesome. I haven't had anything there that was bad.

Oh yes, they also do dinners on the weekends. This summer, they're doing a "fooding" event, a collaboration with Laurent Quenioux, which is:
"a combination of unique culinary offerings and art inspired by feelings and beautiful fresh seasonal ingredients - food creating one of a kind event for each weekend offering. The Chef cooks what he wants, the Starry Kitchen team provides the atmosphere, service and soundtrack and the entire LQ @ SK team lends verve and style to each weekend event."
I'd better book my reservation. Like a girl can say no to limited menu items like Mushu foie gras and Squab, Veal Feet, Ginger Cone Boudin Noir.

Now, as a final note.

Tips on making the most of your Starry Kitchen lunch visit

1. Get there just a little before 12 or a little after 1 and you won't be crushed in line. 11:45 and 1:15 seems to be the magic numbers.

2. Read the menu before you go. Figure out what you want to eat in what kind of combination. If it's your first time, Nguyen will give you a quick lecture anyway...because it's fun! ;-)

3. If you have 3 orders or more, you can call ahead! It works out perfectly for me several times.

4. If you're there with a buddy, take your friend's order and send him/her out to secure a seat. Better be safe than sorry, yo!

5. If you're like me and never finish your plate, order your food "To Go Sit". They'll bring your food in to-go container to your table. That'll save them plates to wash and save you time to box everything up later.

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