Sunday, February 21, 2010

Word on the Street


I went to Susan Feniger's Street twice during the summer last year. This post is long overdue.
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I loved the decor. Of course, I did. It was orange.

Sadly, though, I did not love the food, which is probably why I delayed this post so long.

The concept is an interesting one -- gather street food from many different cultures and present it in a non-street setting in Hollywood. Execution isn't terrible. The problem?

Street food is better on the street. And not just on one street. On many different streets.

The first time I went to Susan Feniger's Street was for lunch with my brother.

Cantaloupe and beet agua fresca ($3) and tamarind ginger cooler ($3).
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Both were refreshing and sweet. A little *too* sweet. That is my brother's this-is-too-sweet face. Not really. Just pretend.

Japanese shizo shrimp wrapped in shizo, nori, and crispy dough with ponzu, grated radish, and wasabi ($12).
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Nice crunch. Pleasant enough.

Paani puri -- small tastes of spiced potato, chutney, and sprouted beans in crispy puffs of dough dipped in yogurt-cilantro water ($6).
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I liked the flavors of this dish, but, when the menu says, "small tastes," it isn't kidding.

"Half salad and dumpling plate" -- half size of any salad and tea cake/dumpling plate ($14.50). We opted for the Korean rice salad (brown rice, soybean sprouts, enoki mushrooms, nori, daikon, tofu, and sunflower seeds in a spicy sweet sesame dressing) and the kaya toast (toasted bread spread thick with coconut jam served with a soft fried egg drizzled in dark soy and white pepper).
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Decent but tiny.

I wasn't impressed with our lunch in terms of bang for our buck. The food was ok, but I left unsatisfied. Mind you, not dissatisfied. There is a difference. I was willing to give Susan Feniger's Street another try.
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I returned to Susan Feniger's Street a few weeks later for dinner with Mr. Monkey and the Cruisers.

Sanbitter sunburst -- lemonade of Italian aperitif bitters and citrus juices ($3).
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Excellent. So much better than the previous two drinks I'd tried with my brother.

The four of us shared two orders of the Around the World in 7 Courses ($40 per order) and two orders of the five-course Globe Trot ($35 per order). Prices I've listed are what dishes cost a la carte. If you do the math, the multi-course meals are the way to go.

Millet seed puffs with marshmallow, fennel, curry, coriander, cumin, and black currant.
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These tasted like chewy Rice Krispies treats with an Indian flair. I must say that I prefer Rice Krispies treats. The consistency of these puffs just didn't feel right, and they got stuck in all of my teeth.

Full order of kaya toast ($11).
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Good repeat dish. It's delicious when you eat the sandwich and egg together -- creamy and sweet mixed with rich saltiness. But, really, $11? I can get a similar snack at Tea Station for next to nothing. You ain't foolin' me, Feniger.

The kaya toast was followed by paani puri ($7) and Japanese shiso shrimp ($12), already described above in my lunch with my brother.

All-American salad -- assorted lettuces, shaved fennel, bacon cracklings, cucumber, tomato, boiled egg, and St. Augur bleu cheese tossed with homemade thousand island dressing ($9).
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It was a salad. Whoop-de-do.

Scandinavian beet and apple salad -- slow-roasted beets with apple, black currant, watercress, toasted walnut, and millet croutons in a juniper vinaigrette ($9).
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This was more interesting and slightly more worthy of our time, but it was still just a salad.

Spinach varenyky -- small pan-fried Ukrainian dumplings filled with spinach and a light layer of salted cheese served with sour cream, fried onions, and lemon marmalade ($9).
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Now we were getting somewhere. Crispy, juicy, lovely. Order these if you visit.

Moldavian meatballs -- ground beef and kasha meatballs simmered in a sweet and sour tomato sauce with dill sour cream ($10).
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These looked better than they actually tasted. Ever eat a meatball? Yes? Then these will be perfectly familiar to you.

Mini beef kobe beef dogs with sweet and spicy chili and white cheddar sauce ($10).
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Tasty, but you could make your own at home just as well.

Assorted vegetables and pickles.
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Tatsutage fried chicken marinated with soy, mirin, and sake topped with spicy kewpie mayonnaise sauce served with pickled vegetable slaw and chilled soba noodles ($16).
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The chicken was very good, but when is fried chicken really bad? You can get this at almost any Japanese place. For a lot less, of course.

Japanese shio ramen soup with clear spicy broth, sliced roasted pork, shrimp, assorted garnishes and yuzu kosho hot sauce ($15).
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If I shell out $15 for ramen, it'd better be amazing. It wasn't. It wasn't bad, but it was a pale facsimile of anything you could get at Daikokuya or even Orochon, and it cost about twice as much. The only thing noteworthy about this course was the Papyrustick chopsticks.

Turkish doughnuts spiced, fried, and simmered in a cardamom rose syrup served with sour cream and rose hip jam ($8).
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Please, please, please let dessert be good. Boo. I didn't wish hard enough. Again, not bad, but not great either.

Susan Feniger's Street is kind of like L.A.'s poor-man version of momofuku ssam bar. If you've read what I said about momofuku ssam bar, you already know that's not a compliment.


  1. First of all, your pics are GORGEOUS! This is an interesting concept for a restaurant, too bad the food isn't up to par--seems like it could be really fun.

  2. You know, even though you said it wasn't good... your photos still make everything look so delicious! You should take bad photos of bad food.. that way it relates to how the food tasted and people can tell right away that it was bad! Hahah!!

  3. Funny...I wouldn't consider salad to be street food. Then again, I agree that street food is better on the street too. Well, not literally ON the street - but from some form of street conveyance (truck, cart, etc.)

  4. You didn't order the $16 pho? Hehe. I saw pics. She didn't use the right noodles. Not that I'm a purist, but that's like saying something is spaghetti and use penne pasta. Not the same.

  5. that agua fresca looks a lot like the "sunset" drink i had at roscoe's last week. heh.

  6. The only reason I've had any desire to go to Street is for the Kaya toast. Your post hasn't changed my mind about that.

  7. Do you take notes after eating? Because I would probably just say "nomnomnom" if my memory had to recall a meal last summer.

  8. Ya know...I don't like this concept AT ALL. Street food is all about going to a place that does 1 or 2 things really well. A place trying to make yummy food from a variety of cultures is, to me, impossible.

  9. Hi weezermonkey,

    It sounds like you had a similar experience to my guests and I. Totally agree: Interesting concept that falls very short of what it should be. :( At least you didn't try their $16 Pho (which was half the size of a real bowl of great Pho at 2.5 times the price (~_~).

  10. Bah, the food looks so pedestrian at such an outrageous price. They certainly should have priced everything less or increased the portions significantly. The tamarind ginger cooler looks tiny in your brother's hand.

  11. I would have to agree Street is a little too pricey for the portions. But on my visit I did love the kaya toast, varenky and pani puri. I've only been for dinner, I would have thought lunch would be a significantly better deal.

  12. I felt the same way about Street. I was pretty disappointed. I wanted it to be so much better than it was.

  13. It all looks pretty, I'm sad that it didn't taste very pretty. :(

  14. Even bad food photographs beautifully, apparently. Damn you trickster photos!

  15. That's too bad; I think the food looks really yummy in your photos. Love the BroMo too sweet pic! :)

  16. at least the decor was pretty? no consolation prize, I know.

    and I love that bromo's "too sweet face" looks exactly like all of his other expressions. ;)

  17. Bougie street food never seems to knock my socks off.

    But your photos did...gorgeous!

  18. Maybe I shouldnt judge since I've yet been, but your post along with others pretty much cements any desire for me to even try to eat there....

    Why bother? Expensive food, small portions, when we have the best ethnic food choices all around us at a quarter the cost. Good job with the review Ms. Monkey!

  19. My kaya toasts are made with my ole nanny's homemade kaya jam :P
    Better and practically free. I should bring some on my next trip and we can have a kaya toast afternoon tea party!

  20. all i remember about my one and only time there, i got shit faced. that's usually how i cope with subpar food.

  21. you know how i feel about the gentrification of street foods in general. glad i'm not missing anything.

    but yes, the photos are getting even better!


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