Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Starry Eyed Surprise

Working in Downtown LA year round has its perks. I have the same commute each day (on foot I might add). But that also means that the lunch scene remains pretty constant as well. While Downtown LA may have a good number of places to eat, very few hit the trifecta of lunch criteria that I eat by: under $10, walking distance, tasty.

Nguyen and Thi Tran opened Starry Kitchen at the end of February to a Water Court crowd that was craving something new (there's only so much Mendocino Farms someone can eat in a year). The Trans' "restaurant" was previously known as Apartment 205 in North Hollywood (they ran an underground restaurant out of their actual apartment for nine months, see the full LA Weekly Article for more). Thankfully for me, the Trans decided to take their underground cooking public at the Water Court on 4th and Grand. Starry Kitchen brings a simple and delicious approach to lunching.

The restaurant lays out their menu in an easy to follow format. First, you pick your protein (chicken, pork, beef, veggie, etc.). The protein options change all the time, with different styles being rotated on and off the menu every few weeks, so there is always something new to try!

Here is a list of the proteins I have enjoyed on my trips to Starry Kitchen:

-Lemongrass Chicken

-Pan Fried Taiwanese Pork Chop with Basil

-Vietnamese Coconut Pork

-Japanese Curry Meat Balls

-Chinese Hoisin Hamburger

-Fried Tofu/Corn Balls (sounds funky, tastes AMAZING)

The next step is to pick your "vessel" for the protein. You can choose between a Wrap, Banh Mi (see our earlier post for a definition), Chopped Salad, Thai Cobb Salad, or Lunch Plate (protein, rice, salad). The Wrap, Banh Mi, and Lunch Plate all come with Daily Sides (for FREE!). Daily Sides have included Japchae (Korean Glass Noodles), Asian Sesame Slaw, Pineapple Fried Rice, Coconut Rice, Curry Fried Rice, Peanut Noodles, and a side chopped salad.

I usually go with the Banh Mi because their baguettes are fantastically fresh, with a nice crackly crust on the outside and pillowy-ness hiding on the inside. Also, the Banh Mi usually serves as a nice "vessel" for the heavier or more flavorful meats like the Curry Meat Balls or the Coconut Pork.

So, for a reasonable $8.12, I can walk out with a delicious 12" Banh Mi and a generous sized side dish. All three conditions (money, taste, convenience) are all gloriously satisfied. Welcome to the weekly rotation, Starry Kitchen.

Check out their blog. They post the new menus when they become available (click the menu link on the mid-left side)...

350 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 617-3474