Street of Dreams: Susan Feniger’s Culinary Delights

Street Restaurant Sign

Years ago when I first visited New York, my friend Petra insisted that I try all of the classic street food Manhattan had to offer.  This included the bagel, the pizza slice, the hot dog, the pretzel, and the ever famed knish (and a few others).  As I ventured around the city,  I would occasionally spot a food stand or truck, and would try one of the items on the list.  It was shortly after this trip that I started really paying attention to street food and food trucks for unique culinary experiences.  Coincidentally, shortly after I returned to Los Angeles, the food truck craze was just coming into vogue.  Since then, I have had some amazing meals and memories created around sidewalk food.  So when my friend Kristy suggested we dine at Susan Feniger’s Street, I was thrilled and ecstatic.  I’d been wanting to try Street for ages, and the tantalizing cuisine far exceeded my expectations.

Indian Iced Soda

While waiting for our table, we sat inside at the bar and ordered some drinks.  I went with the Indian Lime Soda.  I found this to be quite similar to a Gimlet.  A generous amount of fresh lime juice and gin, served over ice.  Celery salt and cumin rim the glass.  The libation provides the ideal balance of yin and yang with the flavors, from sweet to savory, and from mellow to tart.  Absolutely excellent.

Crisps and Jelly

We were seated outside on their elegant patio. Unobtrusive umbrellas create a protective awning under which we sat.   These crisps, pictured above, came complimentary with the meal.  I found them highly addictive.  I didn’t sample the jelly that accompanied them, because I found they were tasty enough on their own.

Biig Fred's Red

We brought a bottle of wine with us from one of my favorite wineries, Robert Renzoni out of Temecula.  This is a fine table wine called Big Fred’s Red.  Hints of cherry and blueberry come across gallantly, with a slight oaken tinge.  Sensational and divine.  We then ordered a bottle from Street’s impressive wine list.  We went with their Barbera.  Unfortunately, I cannot recall the winery it is from, but it is the only Barbera they have, and only available by the whole bottle.  It was a rich, smooth red that accompanied the food perfectly.  I loved it.

Potato Samosas

Potato Samosas – Golden pyramids of delectable potato served deep-fried with a trio of sauces:  minty yogurt, cucumber chilli and a tamarind chutney.  Each Indian based sauce was savory and impeccable, and good alone or mixed with the others.  The samosas come four to an order, and are purely sublime.  I could eat them all day.

Chicken and Waffles

Chicken, Bacon, and Waffle Croquettes – Two chicken and bacon “meatballs”, reposed on a lounge of comfy waffle.   Enshrouded in a mildly spicy maple syrup, this was a scrumptious delight.  Here, too, is another prime example of the yin and yang of taste, where savory meets sweet.  I also like how the waffle is cut on the diagonal, adding the triangle shape of the fire element to the dish.

Angry Eggs

Angry Eggs – These, too, have the fire element present, but more in the form of heat – as in the use of green and red sriracha.  A nouveau take on the classic deviled variety, these eggs have a burst of spice.  Two pieces come to an order.  Zesty and unforgettable.

Kaya Eggs

Kaya Toast – This is my friend Lori’s favorite item at Street, and it may be their best-selling dish.  A generous amount of thick coconut jam is sandwiched between toast, and then cut into fours mini sandwiches.  Served alongside is a runny fried egg covered in soy sauce.  The correct way to eat this is to dip the coconut  sandwich into the yolk and soy and eat it with a little of the egg.  Delicious and decadent.

Pizza of the Day

The Daily Pizza – Street offers five different items that change every day, which include a Pizza, a Rice Bowl, a Salad, an Asian Inspired Noodle, and a Market Vegetable.  Pictured above was that day’s Daily Pizza.  Caramelized onions and bacon gave a highly tasteful performance here.  I also really liked the crust.  I generally prefer thin to thick crust, but even then I leave the end piece on the plate.  Not here.   The crust, end piece, and all the toppings were quickly devoured.

Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips – Thick cuts of yucca fries act as the sidekick to strips of  fluffy striped bass.  An enticing Peruvian panca sauce is drizzled on top.  Succulent and well-seasoned.

Tatsutage Fried Chicken

Tatsutage Fried Chicken-Japanese style fried chicken.  The breading on the chicken is astounding and rich.  Shredded carrots and an alluring white sauce garland the morsels.  Tofu can also be substituted for the chicken.  Almost rapturous in its taste, this was one of my favorites.  A must-have.

We also had three items that are not pictured:

  • Pumpkin Cauliflower Cannelloni – Gentle cannelloni filled predominantly with pumpkin.  I love anything with pumpkin, and this vegan pasta dish was intoxicating and filling.
  • Street Cheeseburger – My friend Zach got this, and I’m so glad he did.  A mouthwatering burger with all the usual accoutrement.  I really liked the brioche bun it was served on.  This is quite a large burger, good either as a whole meal, or shared with friends.  Phenomenal.
  • The Daily Rice Bowl – As I said earlier, their daily options change.   When we went, our server Chris highly recommended the rice bowl, and he was right to do so.  Saffron and curry were the main influences of the rice, with luscious pieces of eggplant throughout.  Refreshingly different and complex in flavor.   So good!

Street Patio Interior

I really love the use of color Street encompasses.  The dominating hues on the patio are black and orange.  In feng shui, orange  represents creativity, legacy and fertility.  It also offers a lot of yang energy to the environment, being very warm and lively.  Whereas black, a more yin, cool color, helps to balance out the orange.  I also found all five of the elements harmonizing beautifully here:

  • Fire – The red-orange walls, candles and subdued lighting, as well as the fire pit residing in the middle.
  • Earth – The wood parts of the dining tables and chairs.  When wood is cut down, it effectively “dies” as a wood element.  Therefore, it returns to the earth, becoming an earth element.
  • Metal – The metal parts of the dining tables and chairs.
  • Water – The color black encompassing the furniture and woodwork.
  • Wood – ???

But where was the wood element?  I couldn’t see any living wood at first.  And then I saw them – two large palm trees rising from the ground.  The restaurant environment coexists peacefully around the two living plants.  This is one of the best examples of the wood element I’ve seen in a restaurant.  A photograph of one of these monolithic trees is at the end of the post.

Street Bar

The architect for Street was Neil M. Denari.  Internationally known for his modern, almost futuristic residential and commercial creations, this was Denari’s first restaurant design.  Working closely with Feniger, they wanted to create a space that was welcoming and provocative.  Energy flows very well within the environment, and I love the unique shapes presented in the architecture.  Pictured above is the area right over the entryway and bar.  I love how the curvature of the walls and the wood paneling, further enhanced by the lighting, reminds me of a subway tunnel or an underground walkway.  Thus carrying out the Street theme on varying levels.

Street Interior

The restaurant’s interior offers a more subdued swankiness.  Wood and fire are represented quite differently here than on the patio.  The colors red for fire, and green for wood, are expressed in the hues of the spirited illustrations on the walls.  The murals and wall decor throughout are the products of Studio Huntley-Muir.  Su Huntley and Donna Muir are London-based artists whose innovative line drawings create an ambiance of a lively city populace.  I love how the drawings of people walking about lend to the space an animated yang energy, which is highly beneficial for a dining environment.

Our Server, Chris, was quite knowledgeable about the menu.  His suggestions were spot on, and we were taken care of very well.  Susan Feniger herself also comes around to greet tables personally, which I found wonderful!  She genuinely cares that her guests have an outstanding dining experience on each visit.

Street also has a new Happy Hour, which features a few choice food selections, $5.00 beer and wine options, as well as a $5.00 valet, from 5:00pm – 7:00pm on weekdays.  They also have many vegetarian and vegan options every day, and Meatless Mondays, where even more non-carnivorous items are available.   They also serve lunch on Fridays, with select $5.00 cocktails at the bar from 12:00 – 7:00.  I will be returning to Street very soon for said Happy Hour, and also for their Weekend Brunch (The Hawaiian French Toast sounds incredible).   This auspicious restaurant provides its guests with a trip around the world all under one roof, with various avenues to satisfy even the most discriminating of tastes.  I wonder if, on my next visit, I may find a cheesy knish on the menu…

Street Only Tree

Susan Feniger’s Street

742 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038

323 203-0500

Hours:  Dinner:  Sunday – Thursday  5:00 pm – 10:00 pm,  Friday – Saturday 5:00 pm  – 11:00 pm,  Brunch:  Saturday – Sunday 11:00 am – 3:00 pm,  Lunch:  Friday 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm,  Happy Hour – Monday – Friday 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

http://www.eatatstreet.com/

Take a Bao

According to some, the term Dim Sum in Cantonese means Pointing to your Heart’s Desire.  To the more general populace, it is the name given to Chinese appetizers, snacks and some breakfast cuisine.  I found my heart’s desire in a quaint little bistro in Studio City called Take a Bao.  Located right on Ventura Boulevard, this restaurant offers a great Happy Hour that I was dying to check out.  I was also curious to see what feng shui elements are at play here, based solely on the use of rectangles.  Rectangles in feng shui are symbolic of the wood element.  The wood element is beneficial in a variety of ways, including new life, business growth, and stability in a nurturing environment.  It is also considered the ideal shape for a residential dwelling.  Wooden rectangles painted an earthy gray are the predominate decoration outside the bar.  And inside, the rectangle shape can be seen throughout.  Take a look at the the interior below.

Rectangles are everywhere to be seen, from the tabletops, to the shape of the windows and doors,to the chair backs, and even on the table caddies.  Now while the restaurant is predominantly modern in its design, I really liked some of the vintage touches added to the environment – such as the elegant blue and white urn pictured here, and the carved side cabinets (painted black to match, of course.)  It’s a classy mixture of old and new items.

And now on to the food!  The Happy Hour at Take a Bao is quite good, with bao and small plates ranging in the $2.00 – $4.00 category, and alcoholic beverages from $4.00 – $7.00.  And their regular menu prices aren’t bad, either.  It is more of a casual style restaurant, where one orders from the register, and the items are brought to you.  We decided to sit at the bar. And here’s what we had:

Banh Mi Bao – Grilled pork, chiles, carrots, cilantro, bean sprouts and a spicy garlic aioli are the dominate headliners in this masterpiece.  Unlike other varieties, the bao here at Take is more like a mushu or a taco, with one’s choice of a white or wheat bun, stuffed with the desired filling, and presented on a wooden board.  Lettuce is also available if one doesn’t want the carb of the bun.  I opted for the wheat option, pictured above.   Savory and mouthwatering, I could have consumed these all night…but I only had the one.  Notice the green rectangle underneath the bao.  The wood element makes yet another appearance with the material of the cutting board, the rectangular shape of the little mat, and the green color of the little mat…intriguing.  The wood element also signifies freshness as well.

Old Fashioned – One of my favorite cocktails, this classic beverage is made with Maker’s Mark bourbon.  Notice the large, solitary ice cube in the glass.  With only one ice cube, the drink doesn’t get watered down as much as with multiple pieces of ice. Very stylish, this drink is strong and bold – definitely not for the faint of heart.

Tofu Popcorn – Bite-sized tofu cleverly deep fried into the most stunning snack.  Garnished with scallions, and served with a delectable cilantro-cashew sauce, these quickly disappeared into the cavernous realms of my stomach.  I would venture to say that even those who do not care for tofu would like this dish.  I highly recommend it.

Sumac Steak Fries – A timeless bar food classic!  These thick cut wands of potato goodness are seasoned to perfection, served with ketchup on the side.  Simply great.

The other drinks I had here were:

  • Raymond “R” Collection Field Blend – A rich and romantic red wine blend.  One can taste the cherry influence amidst the deep tannins
  • Gizz Fizz- Vanilla based beverage with Seagram’s Gin.  Sweet and refreshing.
  • Creamsicle – A dream come true!  An amazing mixture of fresh orange juice, vanilla, and vanilla vodka.  Not overly sweet, but just right.  A perfect dessert cocktail.

The bathrooms here are also a little more social than most.  The sink for both restrooms is a long, stainless steel tub located in the hallway with a large mirror above.  One aspect I really like here is the use of stones at the bottom of the sink.  Stones are an earth element, and when used correctly, can help ground the room from precious chi (energy) draining away down the drain.  This is also especially important in keeping abundance and wealth within an environment.  For most of my clients, I usually do not recommend stones for the bottom of a sink because they can be difficult to clean.  However, I love how it looks, and do this in my own home.  If one wants to use these to help keep abundant energy within a residence, I suggest getting smaller stones or river rocks and placing them in a wide bowl or container.  Place said container on top of the tank of the toilet, or on a shelf directly above the tank.  Rinse these stones out about once a month.  If you really like the idea of stones in the sink, I suggest getting perhaps four or five large, flat stones and placing them over the drain.  The flatness of the rocks will make them easier to clean, rather than lots of small stones or pebbles.  Also, notice the shape of the sink – it’s another rectangle.

Another thing I like about Take a Bao is the convenient parking.  In a city where everyone drives, finding parking is important.  A generous lot is provided for patrons – this becomes valet in the evening, but during Happy Hour it shouldn’t be an issue.  I found parking around the corner near Carpenter Elementary on a residential street.  This bar is definitely one of my new favorite spots.  Take a Bao deserves a standing ovation.

Take a Bao

11838 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

818 691-7223

Hours:   Happy Hour:  Monday – Friday 4:00 – 6:00,  Bar:  Monday – Saturday 11:30 – 11:00,  Sunday 11:30 – 10:00

Note:  Kitchen usually stops serving an hour before closing, except for their special late night menu on Friday and Saturday.

http://www.takeabao.com/