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Mar 29, 2009 04:57 PM

STREET finally opens Monday

I just got the e-mail that Susan Feniger's new place on Highland called STREET opens Monday for dinner. It's inspired by eating food from street vendors during her travels. Can't wait to check this place out. I love street food.

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  1. I also love street food, but can't bring myself to go here before I read other ppl's report first.
    Kaya toast for $10? Bread, kaya jam, and egg. I can make that at home for super cheap.
    A bowl of pho for $16 ??
    Will it all be worth the $$? I'll wait and see first.


    5 Replies
      1. re: burumun

        Wha? I love street food and have traveled all over Asia, but those prices seem really high. I can understand a bowl of Pho that is higher than Little Saigon, but $16? It seems like there are so many good ethnic choices in LA, will people pay top dollar? I can't imagine paying too much more than I would pay at Din Tai Fung for dumplings.

        I love the street food I've had in Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam etc. But would I pay more than $10 for a Banh Mi? For a bowl of Laksa? Kaya Toast for $10? In Singapore I ate that for $1. The whole idea for street food is that it should be affordable. I understand places have to pay LA rents and when I eat Pho or Banh Mi in VN, I am usually sitting on a plastic stool breathing motorcycle exhaust (you pay extra for ambience). Of course, part of the charm is actually eating on the street. Maybe they will pump in motorcycle exhaust.

        1. re: bsquared2

          Well, Feniger is one of LA's more famous chefs, and I'm interested to see what she does with it. I'm guessing she'll make these dishes her own. If not, then you're right.

        2. re: burumun

          The prices are bonkers for that menu. It's not like it's located on Rodeo drive either. I don't think I'm *that* interested in anyone's take on street food on ANY street. Moving on.

          1. re: burumun

            OK so I had lunch there on Saturday and was completely underwhelmed. Where do I start? Street food it ain't - Penne with rapini?!?!?!?!? Susan baby how about some seasonings. Every thing we ate was pretty but bland definately in need of salt and spice (shouldn't this supposed street food burn a little?). The Korean Rice Salad had nothing happening except a mouthful of soy sauce. The only tasty thing I had was the Kaya toast. The Sag Paneer could not compete with any strip mall Indian joint and it's at least twice the price. And speaking of price...$91 (2 apps, 2 salads, sag paneer, and 2 tamarid/ginger drinks) for 3 at lunch!! Bottom line it's too pretty and precious to be considered street food and prices are way off for what your eating.

          2. I'll be very interested to see whether they have to adjust the prices here as they currently seem kind of out of line with the general idea that street food is the one type of cuisine that's sort of accessible to everyone. Because $16 for a bowl of pho is definitely steep. That said, I had a very good meal there on Saturday night (soft opening) with high points being a really excellent vietnamese corn (not sure where they found such fresh tasting corn at this time of year, but it was great) full of slivers of pork belly, the manila clams in black pepper sauce, and an egyptian-style baked fish on a bed of kushary ( As a side note, if anyone knows of other places that serve kushary, I'd love to try more of it! They offer something called the globe trotter which sounds a little like a tasting menu and is offered for $35. They weren't doing it that night, but I would definitely like to go back and try it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mollyomormon

              To me, the main reason to go would be to get the "globe trotter" and taste street food from around the world in one meal. Otherwise, if I was just going to order a dish from a certain region I would just go to an authentic restaurant that served that kind of food, at a lower price. (as others have suggested). That said, I am eager to check it out, and your report from Saturday is encouraging.

            2. The menu is very compelling until you get to the prices. Feniger chose an enticing array of dishes found on the streets of exotic locals, but for the prices she evidently consulted Rodeo Drive. Relatively speaking. $16 for a bowl of pho ?!?!

              OK, you early adapters get busy - I'm anxious to learn exactly why Suan's pho is worth > 2 1/2 times what I'm used to paying for a good bowl of authentic pho.

              12 Replies
              1. re: ilikefood

                Think of it this way, that's cheap for an entree at a restaurant with a famous chef. Nevertheless, you are right. The pho better be good. Actually, I'd probably skip the pho and order dishes that are harder to find in ethnic enclaves here in LA.

                1. re: grubtrotters

                  I really think that's a great approach. It's just going to be difficult to ever feel like a $16 bowl of pho is worth it. There are plenty of other dishes on the menu that represent ethinc food that's much more difficult to find in SoCal than Vietnamese (see the kushary dish I mentioned above).

                  1. re: mollyomormon

                    Was there tonight ,first night - first night seemed totally together - she is a celebrity chef working very hard in her kitchen. Loving what she is diong. Lots of great flavors. LA to the max -Susan is one of the reasons what makes LA the food city it is today

                    1. re: mollyomormon

                      or $7 for a Chinese pastry..*bang head*. 500% markup vs. local joints.

                      I think I left comments on grubtrotter's blog stating much the same... This is LA. Tasty ethnic eats rockin' bargain basement prices is one of the finest attributes of our grubbin scene and this restauarant is apparently set on destroying that entire institution?

                      1. re: TonyC

                        In Street's defense, I don't think it's really catering to the crowd that's eating at the local ethnic joints since those people simply won't pay those prices, even if Street is using premium ingredients for their version or whatever. It's probably drawing more of a crowd who either are afraid to try those joints or finds those places inaccessible in some way (i.e., LA's not really a place where you can easily park and walk around an ethnic neighborhood. it typically requires doing your research first and maybe even going with someone who knows the cuisine to really have the best experience).

                        That said, I can't really imagine that this is a place I'll go back to on my own dime because I do have some idea where to find the cheap local stuff... ;) except that kushary. i might go back for that. where else is there egyptian food in LA?

                        1. re: mollyomormon

                          There's Cafe Dahab for Egyptian. But their quality level is really inconsistent.

                          Cafe Dahab
                          1638 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                          1. re: noahbites

                            Oh, I think I may have been there... ;) I should have specified that I meant it's hard to find some of the more obscure ethnic dishes on Street's menu elsewhere in LA. Like kushary. Do you know if they have that at Cafe Dahab? I feel like it's something we would have ordered if it was on the menu, but I can't recall whether it's there or not.

                            1. re: mollyomormon

                              They do have it! It's listed as koshari and it's $13. So now you have to give us a report.

                              1. re: noahbites

                                it's freaking cheaper at Street! maybe the portions are larger at Cafe Dahab, though. Regardless, I'm definitely going to try it and I'll let you know.

                        2. re: TonyC

                          I was sitting in Street at lunch today joking that chowhoundistas were never going to get past the fact of $16 pho, and in apparently I was correct. (I didn't have the pho, by the way. I too was afraid that it wouldn't live up to Garden Grove or El Monte.)

                          But there are economics involved in a restaurant like Street that just don't apply in San Gabriel. It was a multimillion dollar buildout, for one thing, and the kitchen staff is huge. Cutlery, linen, and glassware costs are astronomically higher than they tend to be at places like Golden Deli - it may serve street-inspired cooking, but Street is a fine-dining restaurant - and reservationists, managers, opentable, etc. tend to be a bit more costly than having an employee hand out numbered tickets every once in a while. People are in and out of a place like Pho Huynh in about 30 minutes; Street can't count on turning tables more than a time or so a night. Food costs are much higher at Street than they are at Indian or Thai restaurants. And the quality of cooking is extremely high.

                          We're all used to paying high prices for Italian and French food, but there is no real reason why we gladly pay $16 for a plate of, say, spaghetti carbonara with a $1.25 food cost but insist that a bowl of Vietnamese noodles with a much higher food cost should cost no more than $6. And Daisy Mint, which charges similar prices for food of distinctly inferior quality, is revered on this board.

                          Bottom line is, first courses at Street average about $8; main courses about $15. You can have a wonderful, creative meal for two with wine or cocktails for less than half of what it would cost at Koi or Campanile. And if you assume that you could get a better shou bing for less money by waiting in line for 45 minutes at Yi Mei, you're probably right, but it's not the same thing at all.

                          1. re: condiment

                            Condiment - good point on the comparison about French and Italian food. also, mollyomormon, I totally agree that it's not catering to the chowhounds that go find the hole in the wall places. Although I'd personally rather try to find a cheaper, dirtier, more authentic version, I definitely see the appeal and think it's a creative concept that will do well on Rodeo.

                            1. re: condiment

                              Very well said, I think you're making a lot of sense. It's still going to be a bit of an obstacle for the restaurant to get over, though, because people like us, who are knowledgeable enough to know enough about the allure of international street food, also know that it's generally very cheaply priced, and so there's going to be a natural sense of sticker shock when we see the menu price.

                    2. How is it any different from Pizzeria Mozza charging $18 a pizza vs. buying a slice for $2 at any random pizza joint? A burger is $1 at McDonald's and $16 at Comme Ca...
                      oh and Comme Ca also has a pork belly banh mi for $13.
                      Some people would like to try Feniger's take on these foods in a full service restaurant with wine and beer that probably cost quite a bit to build out, and the ones who wouldn't like to are welcome to never eat there. Right?

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Chowpatty

                        Well said, patty-- all the complaining about price point (not just this restaurant, but many others) when folks haven't been to a restaurant gets tiring. Go there first, then decide if you're getting what you paid for. Or don't go if the prices look too steep. Right!

                        1. re: jotoll

                          Excellent point. I also don't think there's any other place where I can go and try all these different ethnic street foods in one place in a tasting menu format. That saves me the time and money driving all over the greater LA area. It's a new and different experience altogether, and I'll just have to see for myself if it works. Reserving judgmnt until then.

                        2. re: Chowpatty

                          I agree, Patty. I find the comments about the prices compared to true street food bizarre at best.

                          I can buy an authentic "enchilada" at my local Mexican food stand for just a few dollars. Or, I can go to John Sedlar's new Rivera and pay $15.00 for one enchilada.

                          I noticed someone up thread posting about Clementine's Grilled Cheese on their blog which I suspect costs FAR more that the truly authentic grilled cheese I can have an at all-American coffeeshop.

                          I can get a hot dog for $1.00 at the 7-11 that is very "authentic" ... but I think I'll have a Let's Be Frank dog for a few times more.

                          The price/authenticity issue is silly.

                          1. re: Chowpatty

                            You know Patty...the real issue here is not price but flavor. As I stated above I found the food bland. If it was amazing then who cares. And your comparison of McDonalds to Comme Ca or Mozza doesn't hold up since the burger at McDonald's is disgusting and is less worthy of it's $1 price then Comme Ca's $16 one. To me it's like a typical Hollywood movie lots of pretty things to look at but not really very fulfilling.

                          2. The original comment has been removed