One of the best things about traveling is the food. (Well okay, one of the best things about life is the food.) But there’s an unreachable joy in finding a dumpling stuffed with ingredients you never thought would possibly go together or a type of chicken kebab that has been marinated in a sauce that you can’t identify, but now feel the uncontrollable need to research. Some of the best discoveries don’t come from fancy restaurants, but from tiny street carts. Susan Feniger has built an entire restaurant on this idea. She has stocked her menu with dumplings, noodles, pizzas, and curries from all over the world. The kind of dishes that you can buy on a moonlit night strolling down a boulevard in some far off city after imbibing too much to drink. And yes, they have a burger too.
Well actually, they have two burgers: one proper cheese burger and one vegan spicy black bean burger. One of the really lovely things about this restaurant is that they cater to everyone. Vegan? No problem. Gluten free? That’s fine. Allergic to nuts? Gotcha covered. And in Los Angeles, where there is a huge population of fussy eaters, this is a huge plus. So it’s no surprise that they always have two burgers on the menu. Naturally, we had to try both.
The Street cheeseburger is has all the properties of a respectable burger. It’s got an organic beef patty that is cooked to your desired degree of tenderness, white cheddar melted on top, a brioche bun, lettuce, slices of heirloom tomatoes, and yuzu kosho mayonnaise, which gave it a light citrusy flavor. On the side was a sprinkling of homemade pickles that are both sharply sweet and satisfying. It’s a very nice burger, but I was a little disappointed. Perhaps it was unfair of me. Actually, I’m sure it was. But if you have all of the spices on this earth to play with, why would you make your burger so boring? I can only suppose it’s on the menu for people who have been dragged to the restaurant by their friends and aren’t adventurous at all. They see the cheeseburger on the menu and feel safe.
The spicy black bean veggie burger had the opposite problem. To call it a burger in the first place seems a stretch. It had no burger like qualities, which is not to say it wasn’t delicious. Placed on two slices of toasted sourdough bread the patty was covered in Singapore sauce, topped with mashed avocado and pea shoots. A more accurate description of the “burger” would be the Spicy Black Bean Sandwich. It was quite lovely. The spiciness of the black bean patty was set off quite nicely by the creaminess of the avocado and the tang of the sourdough. The pea shoots as far as I could tell were completely useless. They were not crunchy nor did they taste like much. They just seemed to get stuck in your teeth. The only thing I would add was a bottle of hot sauce to the table, so people could adjust the spice. I could have done with a little more heat.
For sides, I decided to get curried fries and kaya toast. The kaya toast is pretty much the best thing to happen to toast. Tiny sandwiches of white bread slathered with coconut jam are stacked next to a runny egg drenched in soy sauce. It’s sweet and rich and incredibly messy. Do not miss this, no matter how full you are.
When the fries arrived, I was taken aback. It turns out that when it says curried fries, they were not kidding. It was a curry made out of yucca fries. Niramish coconut curry sauce drenched the little golden fingers of yucca with little picked tomatoes perched on top. It was not a side dish. It was a meal.
Despite being stuffed, I unbuttoned my pants and ordered dessert. There are only a handful of desserts that are required eating in my book and Street’s Turkish doughnuts are one of them. Hot golden globes of fried dough wobble invitingly when they’re brought out, stacked on top of sour cream and rose hip jam. The secret is the combination of the unusual sweetness of the jam, the creamy, cold tang of the sour cream, and the heat of the doughnut. It cannot be beat. Sadly I ate them too fast to take a photo, BUT I did find a recipe for them here. Lord knows if I could recreate them at home, but I’m game to try.