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Friday, March 12, 2010

Starry Kitchen Downtown: A Second Chance

I usually have a strong disdain for anything fusion-like, especially fusing Vietnamese or Korean food with others, mostly because I've rarely had a successful combination. So it was with some trepidation that I walked into Starry Kitchen in Downtown LA whose menu smelled like fusion (Located in California Plaza to be exact, where they have Grand Performances concerts in the summer).

I wanted to like it, as I know people who know the owners and they're artists! But the first trial was not great. I had the Taiwanese fried pork chop banh mi sandwich with a side of curry shallot fried rice. Sounds great on paper, right?

Delivery was iffy, however. The pork chop wasn't warm or crispy. It was like a thin piece of tonkatsu that'd been fried hours ago and not bothered to be refried or reheated for the sandwich assembly. I'm sorry but if I'm going to have a fried something sandwich, I want mine piping hot!

The banh mi fillings were ok but a tad bland, which leads me to the one good thing it has going for itself -- the delicious pickled jalapeno, carrot and onion relish a-la-taqueria. If it weren't for this, the sandwich would have been too bland for my taste.

Speaking of bland, the Thai cobb salad that came recommended with lemongrass chicken was oh-so disappointing. There was nothing Thai about that salad except its name. It was a basic cobb salad with romaine, cucumber, avocado (which I used as filling for my sandwich), bacon, boiled egg, blue cheese and the odd addition of lemongrass chicken. Not only did the flavors not blend with the addition of the chicken, the chicken itself tasted like bad airplane rubber chicken! Couldn't taste a hint of lemongrass anywhere. Oh, it needs work.

Even the Thai beef salad in Houston's is far better with its peanuts, mango and other ingredients that make it far more Thai than this odd version.

I will be returning just to try other dishes before writing it off completely but for now, I'm not too impressed.

By the way, on our way out we were so dissatisfied with our food that we decided to hit up some lunch trucks parked outside of the Plaza and ran into Mattie's Southern Kitchen, which purports to serve Southern food.

Well, I recommend avoiding it. The bbq pulled pork sandwich was god-awful. No hint of any bbq sauce. It was just plain old, unseasoned, tasteless, pasty pork stuffed in a sandwich with some cole slaw. Yuck! What a waste of my $5...

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