I had long read of the underground kitchen turned legit operation serving interesting pan-Asian fare (with a side of bold, quirky, costume-loving personality via owner Nguyen) - and had been mad at myself for missing it while it was at its original location, just a block from the courthouse in downtown LA where I spent three weeks in jury duty.
So when they opened up a not-a-pop-up-pop-up at Tiara Cafe, and started serving Singaporean style Chili Crab (I had just fallen in love with the dish during a visit to Singapore the previous holiday), I knew I had to pay a long overdue visit. I cruelly convinced miffyeats to go with me even though she is allergic to crab (which I had forgotten until the very last minute...bad, bad, bad friend...) - being an amazing friend, she rallied a group together so that we can try more different dishes. In more poor form, knowing that the chili crab has been selling out like crazy, my type A self had to tweet Starry Kitchen to ask them to reserve two crabs for us...because if I was going to venture to DTLA at night (which usually freaks me out due to a past bad experience), I'm making damn sure I'm getting that crab, dammit.
...with the texture of the tofu inside like a firm cream cheese. The balls themselves are very mild in flavor, it's the sriracha mayo dipping sauce that gives it a nice and necessary kick.
Hats off to chef Thi (aka "Kitchen Ninja" and wife of Nguyen) and of course Nguyen for a fantastically fun dinner! Not sure how long the pair will be at Tiara Cafe, but try to catch them if you can - check their Facebook or Twitter for updates on their latest R&D creations, and make reservations in advance for their chili crab which sells out quickly!
[Deal alert: And oh, coincidentally, you can get $20 off dinner at Starry Kitchen Nights with the $20 for $40 worth of food & drink deal running at Bloomspot right now til around Saturday 1/12 - click here for details.]
On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 6 bites
Presentation - 5.5 bites
Originality - 6 bites
Ambience - 5.5 stars
Service - 6 stars
Overall experience - 6 bites
Price - $$$ (3 bite marks)
Probability of return visit - 100%
Starry Kitchen at Tiara Cafe
127 E 9th St., Los Angeles, CA 90079