Saturday, April 10, 2010


(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.
Confused Soul


  1. I wonder how the health inspector found out about them? word of mouth...very powerful!

  2. @ Mr. P- I think the neighbors were probably in on it too. I'm sure it got too obvious when a bunch of people they didn't know would come every week.
    @ sis-Yes let's go. It was so amazing. I wanna go back again and again I'm just super confused about what to do about that burger bc by the time I go back again it's not gonna be on the menu anymore.

  3. Hi Kristie,

    Thx again for coming, posting and reviewing us. We appreciate the time and effort.

    I just wanted to expand on what I was saying on my public reply (here's a link for anyone that wants to read my BORING response ^_^

    What I mentioned about not liking ALL 50 dishes, we really do mean that. There are so many different flavors, representations and textures that they cannot please everyone. We partially do it because it keeps it exciting for us; also because we like to expose people to different ideas and flavors; and because everyone has VERY different palates as well.

    One mistake on our part, that I probably won't allow ever again, is the ability to take it to-go into pieces. It may not sound like anything, but we do assemble it a very specific way and I can control that the way you guys put it together was a correct representation of what we serve. I'm sure it contributed a little bit to the problem, but wasn't the catalyst.

    And again, maybe you just didn't like it, which is fine since you did like the Nom Nom Pork and the "Crack" Crab Cake. If your boyfriend doesn't want to take your word on those, I dunno what to tell you except apply the SK rule of thumb "more food for you!"

    We probably should have sampled it for you too so you would have known that you didn't like it and what the difference was when you took it home. I unfortunately can only speculate from what I read, but again... maybe you guys just don't like that dish. No biggie.

    Btw, I don't necessarily agree w/ your bf's statement about food togo. Ever had a pasta w/ cream sauce togo or eaten the next day? NOT GOOD - the cream and oil separates and is not the same. I would say for our togo Banh Mi, The Hat analogy is possibly applicable (except again we didn't assemble it.)

    And don't forget, you've missed out on a LOT of dishes we've started out w/ (that you and he could have liked or disliked) already including: the VN Braised Coconut Pork (my favorite), Taiwanese Fried Pork Chop w/ Flash Fried Basil, Nebraska Angus Japanese Meatball Curry, the famously infamous Crispy Tofu Balls and Kimchi stir-fried w/ King Oyster Mushroom.

    So I leave you w/ this: did you like what you ate when you left? If so, cool! If not, sorry... more for us! ^_^

    Sorry for the long response. Hope that helps de-confuse you, love us more, hate us more, or come to a place of peace at the very least.

    PS - on the health inspector front, it had nothing to do w/ the neighbors. They LOVED what we were doing. It was a local restaurant that found our 5-star Yelp Rated "Apartment" and ratted us out.


    Nguyen Tran (aka Team SK)

  4. And after that message I got a follow up message from SK that read:

    and after reviewing w/ Thi (the Kitchen Ninja), it sounds like our cashier may have messed up your order too. You may have not gotten all the veggies, mayo butter or ANYTHING. Just the bread and the Hoisin Hamburger meat... that's a No-No because that's not how it was supposed to be served. DOH!

    But if you did, maybe you guys just didn't like that dish. :)

    Sorry about that, but happy you liked the other stuff.

    Let us know, and hopefully we see ya again soon (less confused, and more determined ^_^)


    Nguyen Tran

    So yeah they forgot to give me the veggies, which I'm sure made a huge difference. Either way I'll be back but I'm just curious in whether or not I'd like their hoison burger dish at all.