I love celebrity chef Susan Feniger. I really, REALLY do. Not only is she adorable, warm, personable, and funny, but she held her own as the last woman standing on Top Chef Masters, and for that, I doff my imaginary toque to her. So because I love — no, ADORE — this woman, I wanted so badly to LOVE her Hollywood restaurant, Susan Feniger’s Street. And I did LIKE it. It was very good. It just wasn’t great.
Located (perhaps appropriately) on a particularly gray and gritty stretch of Highland Avenue, shouting distance from Pizzeria Mozza and adjacent to a dangerously seductive Yum Yum Donuts, Street’s concept is international street food (albeit at LA prices). This ain’t the chicken (or quite possibly Shih Tzu) on a stick I had in Seoul, or the tom yum soup I slurped in a Bangkok back alley. This is street food that’s been LA sexified. Kardashianized. Recognize.
Consider this Filipino street treat — Kaya toast. Spread thickly with coconut jam and dipped in a soft fried egg with black soy and white pepper:
As awesome pal Adra pointed out, the main problem with this dish is that the filling that spills out of those toasty sandwich slices looks EXACTLY like melted cheese, causing at first a disconnect, then a disappointment. Not because the coconut jam doesn’t taste good. But it’s tricked you into expecting cheese — and now it’s cheese you truly want. Good thing the ricotta noquis were cheesy! And delicious:
Bread is $3, which is kind of a shame, because you really want something to sop up that yummy tomatillo and chipotle sauce, and the complimentary cumin-scented rice and raisin balls don’t really cut it. I loved the Korean spare ribs — melt-in-your-mouth tender and a perfect balance of sweet/salty. I can’t find a sexy picture of the ribs, so here are some lamb kafta meatballs, which were tasty, at least to me. (Awesome pal Nicole, an expert on Middle Eastern eats — an eatspert? – was not overly impressed.)
Accompanied with a ho-hum Vietnamese corn salad and perfectly acceptable cheese grits, the ribs were a generous entree size, and easy to share. (Even though I polished off most of them.) Adra went rogue and ordered a tofu dish with peanut sauce and cilantro, and though I eschew soft tofu as a concept (sorry, vegetarians!) I will eat chunks of actual asphalt if garnished with cilantro, so I tried it. Didn’t love it — but experimentation is the secret behind street, anyway.
I love this place as a concept! It’s VERY hard to do so many diverse cuisines well, and Street comes very close. Nothing I ate tasted BAD to me, or poorly executed. (Okay, maybe those tofu chunks, but that’s a personal aversion to eating slippery gelatinous cubes in place of meat.) And I love that not only was Feniger there, working in her own kitchen, but we could actually see her through her kitchen window! CUTENESS!
As a sweet, unexpected surprise — a kindly stranger sent over dessert. (I’d like to say this happens to me all the time. Yes, let’s go with that.)
I have been trying to go gluten-free and was about two weeks in before this Egyptian basbousa cake arrived and I polished off 90% of it. (Not to mention that double chocolate Yum Yum donut I devoured on my way home. In for a penny, in for LOTS AND LOTS OF POUNDS.)
The cake was aiight; I liked the lime curd topping, berries and cream better than the semolina cake itself, which was kind of a bore. But the word on the Street (aka Yelp) is that this restaurant seems like a work in progress, and if anyone can get it up to its full potential, it’s Feniger. And the place was packed! On a Tuesday! Thanks to a 30% off special from Blackboard Eats, which is genius. If you haven’t checked it, please do so now. I’ll wait.