What began as the ultimate pop-up restaurant--one operating out of the kitchen of husband-and-wife team Nguyen and Thi Tran-- is now a downtown LA lunch hotspot.
Starry Kitchen, located in California Plaza, serves up pan-Asian cuisine with a smile, courtesy of the lovely and hilarious Nguyen, who will scare the bejesus out of you while he explains the ordering process (just ask for his spiel) and then helpfully offer suggestions for your lunch.
At Starry Kitchen, you begin by picking your "protein," then choose your "vessel" and, finally, your "side." Don't get too attached, however, to the protein choices listed below; the dishes constantly rotate, and something you love one week might go *poof* the next (unless it's the uber popular fried tofu balls, which made their triumphant return this week).
I ordered the Nebraska Angus Japanese Meatball Curry in a Banh Mi sandwich with a side of Korean Glass Noodles ($7.50). The meatballs' flavor and fluffiness were reminiscent of hamburger steak while the veggies in the curry (such as corn) gave it a beef stew-like character. Talk about comfort on a (pillowy) banh mi for this Hawai'i girl. Also tasty were the sandwich's other veggies, which added freshness and crispness to each bite, and the Korean glass noodles, which I happily slurped down.
Although I enjoyed my lunch, I was obsessed with J's Malaysian Chicken Curry lunch plate, which was served on Coconut Rice with a side (he also ordered the Korean glass noodles) plus Asian Sesame Slaw ($8.95+$1.00 for coconut rice). The flavor of the tender chicken played deliciously well off the sweetness of the coconut rice, and I couldn't help but stealing bites from J even as I grew dangerously full from my own plate. Hey, what if I can never order this again?!
We both also enjoyed the cool, refreshing Asian Sesame Slaw, although it might have benefited from an extra dash of pepper.
Although I loved every bite of my (and J's) lunch at Starry Kitchen, what really made the experience for me was the affability of Nguyen, who came to chat with us while we lunched. In fact, I loved Starry Kitchen so much that I took my family back the following week for a post-graduation lunch, and I eagerly await seeing what future visits have in store for me and my tummy.
350 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90071