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STREET finally opens Monday

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grubtrotters Mar 29, 2009 04:57 PM

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. burumun RE: grubtrotters Mar 29, 2009 05:48 PM

    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.

    --burumun
    http://gourmetpigs.net

    5 Replies
    1. re: burumun
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      grubtrotters RE: burumun Mar 29, 2009 07:47 PM

      I'll be curious to find out, too.

      1. re: burumun
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        bsquared2 RE: burumun Mar 29, 2009 08:17 PM

        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
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          grubtrotters RE: bsquared2 Mar 30, 2009 08:45 AM

          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
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          ahuacatl RE: burumun Mar 30, 2009 06:36 PM

          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
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            murray26 RE: burumun Apr 5, 2009 08:50 PM

            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. mollyomormon RE: grubtrotters Mar 30, 2009 12:14 PM

            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 (http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...). 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
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              Nicole RE: mollyomormon Mar 30, 2009 02:02 PM

              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. i
              ilikefood RE: grubtrotters Mar 30, 2009 01:33 PM

              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
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                grubtrotters RE: ilikefood Mar 30, 2009 03:07 PM

                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
                  mollyomormon RE: grubtrotters Mar 30, 2009 03:11 PM

                  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
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                    melangeinc RE: mollyomormon Mar 31, 2009 01:28 AM

                    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
                      TonyC RE: mollyomormon Mar 31, 2009 05:00 PM

                      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
                        mollyomormon RE: TonyC Mar 31, 2009 05:14 PM

                        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
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                          noahbites RE: mollyomormon Mar 31, 2009 06:51 PM

                          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
                            mollyomormon RE: noahbites Mar 31, 2009 06:55 PM

                            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
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                              noahbites RE: mollyomormon Mar 31, 2009 07:23 PM

                              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
                                mollyomormon RE: noahbites Mar 31, 2009 07:29 PM

                                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
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                          condiment RE: TonyC Mar 31, 2009 11:25 PM

                          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
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                            marilees RE: condiment Apr 1, 2009 05:20 PM

                            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
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                              mikester RE: condiment Apr 2, 2009 09:29 AM

                              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. Chowpatty RE: grubtrotters Mar 31, 2009 05:14 PM

                      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
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                        jotoll RE: Chowpatty Mar 31, 2009 05:25 PM

                        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
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                          grubtrotters RE: jotoll Mar 31, 2009 06:06 PM

                          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
                          SilverlakeGirl RE: Chowpatty Apr 1, 2009 05:13 PM

                          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
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                            murray26 RE: Chowpatty Apr 5, 2009 09:00 PM

                            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. monku RE: grubtrotters Mar 31, 2009 07:36 PM

                            It's street food for the rich.
                            People who would never think of going to divey joints or places with questionable hygiene or neighborhoods.

                            Not like CH's that love the hunt.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: monku
                              J.L. RE: monku Mar 31, 2009 07:52 PM

                              Hear hear...

                            2. g
                              grubtrotters RE: grubtrotters Apr 1, 2009 10:29 AM

                              It's definitely an April Fool's Day joke, but Eating LA said she is dopping food prices to street level. In any case, she gave the Hounds here a shout out.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: grubtrotters
                                mollyomormon RE: grubtrotters Apr 1, 2009 10:32 AM

                                or maybe call it April Fool's day over at Eating LA??

                                1. re: mollyomormon
                                  g
                                  grubtrotters RE: mollyomormon Apr 1, 2009 10:40 AM

                                  It's pretty funny.

                              2. j
                                jotoll RE: grubtrotters Apr 1, 2009 11:52 AM

                                Does anyone know if there's a beer and wine license or full liquor license at Street? The website doesn't say...

                                Thanks!

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: jotoll
                                  mollyomormon RE: jotoll Apr 1, 2009 11:52 AM

                                  They have a full liquor license.

                                  1. re: mollyomormon
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                                    jotoll RE: mollyomormon Apr 1, 2009 11:58 AM

                                    Awesome- thanks!!

                                    1. re: mollyomormon
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                                      New Trial RE: mollyomormon Apr 1, 2009 02:12 PM

                                      Which makes the place Street Legal.

                                      1. re: New Trial
                                        rednyellow RE: New Trial Apr 1, 2009 02:20 PM

                                        Good one!

                                  2. mrshankly RE: grubtrotters Apr 1, 2009 12:43 PM

                                    I can't wait until street vendors set up shop outside the place and sell the same stuff, done right, for the real price!! lol Ahhh... the ignorance of elitism amongst the culinary luminaries astounds me some times.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: mrshankly
                                      rednyellow RE: mrshankly Apr 1, 2009 02:24 PM

                                      If that happens, hopefully the police will shut them down. It's totally unfair for a business that plays by the rules, pays all the fees and overhead expenses and then has to deal with illegal competition from unlicensed, uninspected vendors.

                                      1. re: rednyellow
                                        BubblyOne RE: rednyellow Apr 1, 2009 04:37 PM

                                        Thank you,...geez, Susan is one of our pioneer LA female chefs and all this complaining about prices, especially the damn $16 pho. I'll be there the 11th (will try the pho) and report back, unless it has been removed from the menu after death threats!

                                        1. re: BubblyOne
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                                          FranklinJefferson RE: BubblyOne Apr 1, 2009 05:10 PM

                                          Gotta chime in on this one. Haven't been to Street yet but I have to say, Look At Her Record!!! When Susan (and Mary) opened City, oh so many years ago, they were serving Multi-Culti food in Hollywood that could be found for far less deniro, if one was willing to look, a few miles East or South - and at those locations would be far more "authentic"... Same with Border Grill... The point is that, A.) She's trying to introduce cuisines to neighborhoods that wouldn't necessarily go out of their way to try something new. And B.) as with City and Border Grill, the food being served here is probably going to be a stylized derivation on the theme. ie: "pho" may be a little more adventuresome than what one might find next to 99 Ranch Market in Van Nuys.... Sheesh! So give the place a chance and weigh in on its own merits rather than what you think the restaurant should be...

                                          1. re: FranklinJefferson
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                                            melangeinc RE: FranklinJefferson Apr 2, 2009 01:21 AM

                                            Well said, Sir

                                    2. d
                                      duhitsvictoria RE: grubtrotters Apr 5, 2009 08:04 PM

                                      i went to street on friday, after having gone to the private opening last friday as well. the food was great, if you take it for what it is. i definitely passed on the $16 bowl of pho, but that's because i'm vietnamese and it probably wouldn't stand a chance (yes, i'm being completely biased!)

                                      some things were definitely a miss, like the shrimp with shizo. (pretty bland - definitely not memorable)...
                                      ...but there were things like the white radish cake which was so good i would have ordered another plate had i not been stuffed (although the sunny side up egg that accompanied the dish definitely threw me off)

                                      the cuban potato cake is another good dish with a great balance between sauce and cake and i like the use of raisans & oddly enough, capers.

                                      their stir-fried noodles with shrimp & pork belly was sadly bland, but the noodles were cooked really well - not "gummy" at all, which i've found a lot when eating at restaurants that aren't really chinese-based.

                                      the wine list was really well put together & the wine service is interesting as they serve the wine in stemless glasses & put the remaining wine in what looks like recycled bitters jars for you to pour yourself.

                                      the kitchen was a little slow, but it was the first friday and packed. sit outside near the fire if you can. the ambience is nice & whoever is making the music selection out there scores definitely points. i heard miles davis, louis armstrong and ella fitzgerald out there that night.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: duhitsvictoria
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                                        United Foodie Fanatic RE: duhitsvictoria Apr 5, 2009 08:11 PM

                                        Has anyone ate at the the new BNC 08 Jon Shooks, place Animal? if so how is it?

                                        1. re: United Foodie Fanatic
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                                          jotoll RE: United Foodie Fanatic Apr 6, 2009 06:08 PM

                                          I did last week- it's very good, and very MEAT-Y. I think everything we ordered had bacon in it or on it... but yummy! My plus one and I shared 3 appetizers- fried hominy, pork belly on lentils with white beans, and the baby broccoli with fried egg on top. All were totally tasty and filling enough that we didn't order an entree, though we had originally planned on ordering the pork ribs- saw them at another table and they looked fantastic. Then we shared two desserts- the lemon curd and the bacon chocolate crunch bar-- both terrific. Nice wine list and 3 glasses is the same price as a bottle, which I thought was cool.

                                          The food is not light, by any means. The table next to us ordered the fried fois gras- yikes! Looked great, but I am thinking the fois gras itself, while being put in the fryer, probably said, "Seriously?" Definitely not an every-week kind of place, based on the richness factor, but a good meal.

                                        2. re: duhitsvictoria
                                          rednyellow RE: duhitsvictoria Apr 5, 2009 08:48 PM

                                          I hate stemless wine glasses and will be glad to see the trend disappear.

                                          1. re: rednyellow
                                            m
                                            mikester RE: rednyellow Apr 6, 2009 09:57 AM

                                            I am so on-board with you about this ! What's wrong with stems (except for the fact that I'm sure restaurants do have to deal with the invevitable breakage factor).

                                        3. tablefor1 RE: grubtrotters Apr 7, 2009 11:32 AM

                                          Regarding price point, I agree with Chowpatty, jotoll, grubtrotters, etc.

                                          At some point, the search for authenticity in dining is tapered by the mass desire for convenience, something I can’t blame this city for, given known geographical factors. The pull of SGV’s Chinese (and larger Asian collection), Westwood’s Persian, Artesia’s Indian, East LA’s Mexican (and larger Latino assortment), and West LA’s western European selection is strong. Nevertheless, a restaurant that offers it all in one (arguably) central place is worth trying! If you want curry in a hurry and don’t hold Susan accountable for charging a mark-up for décor, friendly service and location, STREET is quite good. It’s clearly a hot ticket now, but I think when the buzz dies down a bit (just before the reviews come out), it’ll be a great mid-week dinner especially if you live or work in the area and/or can’t get a seat at Pizzaria Mozza…

                                          I sat at the bar and to my left were producers from the Ben Button film; to my left, the full chef ensemble from Mozza down the street! What fun!

                                          One major drawback: The wine carafes are charming, but water glasses for wine leave no room to swirl and are utterly too casual. The restaurant is not, after all, actually on the street.

                                          Good news: Cuban potato cake, Indian fritters, Turkish doughnuts, New Jerusalem Salad, Beet salad. I’d stay away from dumplings and pho, but BBQ short ribs were quite good.

                                          Taking gas and mileage into consideration, next time I feel like quick Indian, Middle Eastern and Cuban, I’ll head to STREET.

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