From humble roots as an illegal restaurant run out of the back of an apartment in North Hollywood sprang the wonderful Starry Kitchen, a decidedly delicious Asian Fusion (Vietnamese) addition to downtown across the street from MOCA.
A simple, no-frills order at the counter restaurant has no business offering up the fantastic food this does, but the mantra of eating fresh and constantly changing the menu (every three weeks and no items may reappear for two-three months) means the folks behind this venture can limit the menu to what they do well.
A chalkboard by the counter details the day’s selections. You pick your protein, your vessel and your side. You may combine chicken, pork or tofu over rice, as a banh mi sandwich or as a wrap. There is also a selection of stand-alone dishes and salads like a Thai Cobb, a Chopped and a Seared Tuna.
Food comes out quick and fresh. The Monster decided on free range lemongrass chicken with ginger sesame sake sauce over shallot fried rice, double fried ginger chicken wings, chicken wrapped in (imported) pandan leaves while Mrs. Monster got a salad with tofu. Not a loser in the bunch. The pandan leaves added a great flavor to the chicken appetizer, the wings were nicely glazed and meaty, while the main course was hearty and served with both glass noodles and a wonderfully simple but tasty side of crunchy vegetables that reminded The Monster of Vietnamese version of cole slaw.
The space itself is concrete floors, wood tables, white plastic chairs with a nice sized outdoor patio. On Friday and Saturday nights during the summer there are often free concerts in the courtyard so whether coming to MOCA or to hear some music, this proves a delightful night to show you aren’t a philistine (or at least pretend as much).
Friendly service, upbeat music, and an overall convivial vibe make this a place you want to see succeed. They are proud of what they do and one of the owners spent much of the night happily playing with a little girl and going around table to table to make sure everyone was satisfied. As we spoke The Monster learned he used to work at William Morris. In this town, you’re never too far from the entertainment industry.
Why go? A day at MOCA followed by a great meal and live music is a perfect summer outing.
Monster Rating: 4 ½/5 Monsters
350 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90071