Sunday, April 22, 2012

Susan Feniger's STREET: Kaya Toast and Bottomless Bubbly

Seems like I've had street food on my mind a lot this past month.  And while Susan Feniger's STREET isn't the first place I would actually think of (as I grew up in HK and love authentic street foods - one would expect at STREET, foods adjusted for the American palate) - over the years the majority opinion with fellow foodies seems to have been that food is overpriced and underdelivers on taste.  With the exception of Kaya Toast, which I was told is delicious (though still pricey).  So when my friend 'Curses' pinged me about a Bloomspot deal - $40 for brunch and  bottomless champange cocktails for two - I thought that was a sign that it's time to experience it first hand. We figured we'd get our money's worth in drinks alone!

The dining room was narrow and cozy, with a modern vibe brightened up with a skylight overhead. We got seated right away, and noticed a nice energy in the space with a full house of people who seemed to be enjoying their meals.  Good sign, right?
As an amuse bouche, we received a tray of puffed rice clusters with black currants and interesting spices that we thought might have included cardamom - like an Asian interpretation of rice krispies squares. 

Then it was down to business: with the Bloomspot deal, we get access to bottomless sparkling cocktails ($15 per person on regular brunch menu), AND you get to pick whatever you want from the sparkling cocktail menu (you don't have to stick to just one 'flavor' for the meal)!.  I was excited that STREET makes their cocktails with purees, and fresh fruit - and the flavors were a bit more unusual (not just what everyone else was serving with brunch: mimosas (OJ) or bellinis (peach)).  We started off with Scarlet sparkling wine with fresh cranberry compote, and Noire Bubbles with blackberry and lemon twist.  Based on the colors of the drinks, we actually thought the darker one (to the right in the photo) would be Noire and the pink colored one would be Scarlet.  Our server let us know it was the reverse.  We both ended up liking the taste of the lighter one (Scarlet) better - it was more refreshing where the Noire had an aftertaste.
Then on to the food! With the Bloomspot deal, we get a starter to share and then our choice of entrees.  The starter that day was Croatian Apple Fritters ($11 on regular menu) which apparently comes with whiskey cider sauce and apple butter served with homemade pork sausage - for our deal the dish came sans sausage.  We were expecting the fritters to taste fresh fried, with a crunchy cinnamon-y shell and soft, steaming hot doughy interior - instead it was a bit chewy with a too thick shell.  We did enjoy the instantly addictive flavors in the whisky cider sauce, though the apple flavors didn't really come through for us in the butter - and it was so light that we thought it was sugarfree whipped cream at first.
Time for another round of cocktails (with us both being lightweights, we were sort of testing our limits that morning!) The Beijing Bellini is made with lychee and subtly sweet and refreshing. Curses wanted her own full serving of Scarlet, but for some reason the second time around it was a lot lighter, and clear - maybe they forgot to add the cranberry puree?  Around this time it was nice to see the chef herself making her rounds at the tables - love that, unlike some celebrity chefs around the city, she is actually at her restaurants making sure guests are enjoying themselves.
Then the moment of truth - for my entree, I wanted to finally try the infamous Kaya Toast ($11 on regular menu).  I had just been in Singapore this past holiday, and was fortunate enough to get to try the kaya toast at its original creator's cafe chain, Ya Kun - I loved their coconut spread and was interested to see how STREET's interpretation would compare, and hopefully to find a place to satisfy my cravings once I run out of the little jars of spread I brought back from my trip.  I was especially curious since STREET's kaya toast is described as "a uniquely STREET experience toasted bread spread thick with coconut jam; served with a soft fried egg drizzled in dark soy and white pepper". 

The verdict: Yes, STREET's kaya (coconut jam) is very different from Ya Kun's. Where Ya Kun's is subtle, light, and translucent, STREET's kaya is whitish in color, much more robust, creamier and a lot sweeter with much more pronounced coconut flavor.  STREET also serves theirs with much thicker slices of toast - the whole thing actually worked really well together.  Especially when dipped into the runny yolk of the sunny-side up egg, along with the soy sauce and pepper.  I liked the use of dark soy, which has the consistency of balsamic vinegar and is sweeter than regular soy. Altogether, very big on flavor and absolutely delicious. 

That said, at the end of the day it's still toast with jam, and one egg - so would I go back for it at $11?  I would say: I was very happy with the Bloomspot deal ($20 per person - $15 for bottomless sparkling cocktails = $5 for food including fritters and toast), and think I'd be very inclined to return the next time a deal rolls around. Or if I ever have a bit of extra wriggle room in my budget, I'd splurge at brunch again with the toast and cocktails.

We couldn't leave without another round of cocktails (hey, the fruit quotient means antioxidants which means it's good for you, right? And alcohol kills germs so...win-win?) Our last pair of cocktails were Mucho Mango fresh mango juice and Sparkling Psidium pink guava and fresh lime.  Both were fresh tasting (I'd say they almost taste like Izze drinks - carbonated juice, but that give you a buzz) and a nice last taste in terms of beverages.

For the other entree, Curses chose Chicken + Waffle Croquettes ($12) with homemade waffles, braised greens, poached eggs, and spicy maple sauce.  Not really sure where the 'street' food came into play in this dish (was it the asian flavor with addition of strands of scallions?), but overall the taste and textures did not live up to the promise in the presentation.  The waffle was definitely not fresh made, very chewy on the verge of rubbery and cold.  And flavorless. Poached eggs were passable but the whites were a bit leathery. Braised greens were forgettable.  The spicy maple sauce was the only surprise of the dish and the best element in it - it was delicious.  This one is not one we would repeat, and we were very glad Curses got her money's worth in drinks.

All in all, we were glad we got to try STREET and its infamous kaya toast, which was very good - along with the delicious sparkling cocktails.  But we were definitely glad we went with the Bloomspot deal in hand - otherwise we may have perceived the experience very differently.

[For more deals like this one, check out my Get More Bites Outta Your Budget page, and follow me on Twitter for to the minute finds!]

On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 5 bites
Presentation - 5.5 bites
Originality - 5.5 bites
Ambience - 5.5 stars
Service - 5.5 stars
Overall experience - 5.5 bites
Price - $$ (1 bite mark)
Probability of return visit - 60% (when there is a deal)

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Susan Feniger's STREET
9016 Mission Drive Rosemead, CA 91770
Ph: 626.286.3370

Parking: Meter parking on Highland

Website:
OpenTable: Look for reservations (and points!)

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Susan Feniger's Street on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

  1. lame! It's supposed to be a half boiled egg...not a fried egg

    ReplyDelete
  2. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete

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