A snazzy LA twist on common street food from around the world.
For yet another birthday celebration (involving food, of course), I went to dinner with two of my oldest friends, Kristy and Katie (actually, the same ones I went to Javier’s with). After spending some time searching Yelp, I discovered Street. A Top Chef contestant’s interpretation of various types of street food. I was intrigued by this idea and of course, had to try it out for myself.
After pushing my reservation back three times (the day got away from me and I was running way behind…thank you, reservationist, for being so accommodating!), we finally made it into Street. When you first walk in, it’s easy to miss the host stand (which we did…). It’s tucked away in the corner to your left. After a few minutes of awkwardly standing in the middle of the restaurant, someone finally directs us back to the hostess. Whoops!
The restaurant is clean, modern and hip. Though simple, no detail was left unaddressed. The chairs even have something on their feet so when you scoot into or away from the table, it slides easily and doesn’t make that horrendous sound. I was in love with the cover of the menu too:
The first thing they put on your table is a plate of these odd little things:
Bread and butter doesn’t cut it at Street. Not having any idea what these were, I took a piece from the plate, and found that it was incredibly sticky, and had to pull a piece off. The first thing I taste…MARSHMALLOW?! A few more bites, and I continue to taste some sort of rice, some cumin, some sort of spice/chili…and a black licoricey taste…fennel? When the waitress returned, we found out that these bizarre little sticky treats are called millet puffs. These are best likened to grown up rice krispy treats…with the idea of an everlasting gobstopper. They have the obvious sweet of marshmallows, the texture and consistency of rice krispy treats, but every bite you take, there’s a new flavor to discover (the everlasting gobstopper reference). A quick google search, and I found the recipe. It turns out there is, in fact, cumin and fennel. But there’s also black mustard seed, turmeric powder, dried currants and curry leaves. These little puffs pack in an explosion of flavor. Seconds Thirds, please?
All of the plates are designed to be shared. Think small plates/tapas style. While the menu is on the smaller size, it looks like they’ve put a lot of thought into each dish, only selecting the few that passed many, many taste tests and approvals.
Lamb kaftka meatballs over warm Syrian cheese wrapped in a grape leaf and drizzled with date and carob molasses, served with za’atar spiced flatbread:
I’m not afraid to admit it. I didn’t come up for air while inhaling this plate. Unfortunately, that means I was on my way to being stuffed, only one plate in. I was sold on the lamb and grape leaves. But the cheese and the perfectly sweet date and carob molasses sauce was absolutely to-die-for. I love a well-executed sweet/savory combo (hello, cotton candy foie gras at The Bazaar…mmm). This lamb plate passed with flying colors. The best way to enjoy this (at least the way I was devouring it) is to get a little piece of the grape leaf, a piece of a meatball and cheese all smushed together on your fork to get it all in one bite. Seriously. I’m still having very happy dreams about this plate.
To counterbalance the heaviness and sweet of the lamb meatballs, next up were 2 plates of heirloom tomatoes with a black garlic vinaigrette and thai basil:
The vinaigrette is decent, but overall, this plate was a little mediocre. With such a simple, basic ingredient, it’s tough to make it mind-blowing. I wouldn’t order this one again.
Taking our waitress’s suggestion, we ordered about one plate from each section of the menu. To fulfill the “Land & Sea” portion of the meal, we ordered 2 plates of the wild Columbian river salmon and Hawaiian fried rice made with brown rice, Chinese sausage, tarot root and scallions:
The salmon was extremely plain. It really tasted like it was just…cooked salmon. No sauce, no spices, nada. The redeeming quality of the plate is the Hawaiian fried rice (which is unfortunate, since it’s just the side dish…). Maybe I was just craving some sweet/savory dishes that night, but the rice was ever so slightly sweet, almost “glazed.”
The skinny on street? Inventive, with more hits than misses (though there definitely are some misses). Service on the slower side, but they do know the menu through and through. I am now a huge fan of Syrian cheese. I’ll be back soon to try some of the other plates (and maybe sneak some millet puffs into my purse )
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