Starry Kitchen Reopens At Tiara Cafe
Clarissa Wei Crispy Tofu Balls
Less than a month after they closed down their Cal Plaza restaurant, the husband and wife duo behind Starry Kitchen, Nguyen and Thi Tran, reopened last Thursday inside Fred Eric's Tiara Cafe.
The new menu boasts family-friendly entrees including Malaysian chicken curry, crispy tofu balls (a crossover from their old menu), and a Singaporean crab that can comfortably feed a party of three.
Tran kicked off the grand opening on Thursday with free beer. But he didn't need the beverages to draw people in. The Singaporean chili crab, for starters, was sold out for two nights in a row. It's also the restaurant's most expensive dish ($56 on Saturday evening).
We checked out the new space over the weekend and while Tran seemed busy with the logistics, he maintained his usual eccentricity and made a point to stay involved. At one point during the evening, he changed into his in-house costume after reading a tweet inquiring what he was wearing.
"I'm not the chef, my wife is," Tran said, pointing out the irony of the ensemble.
For the team at Starry Kitchen, the partnership with Tiara is a experimental collaboration as they churn out new menu items with chef Laurent Quenioux and figure out the logistics of a new space at Cal Plaza (they've put in an application).
Although Tiara Cafe has traditionally hosted temporary concepts, Starry Kitchen plans to stay put. "Don't call it a pop-up, 'cause we want this to be permanent," Tran wrote in a press release.
There's a fair number of disclaimers and warnings of their menu like, "Disclaimer: The menu is still a work in progress w/ things like pricing, portioning ..." and "WARNING: This dish is VERY Asian + ALMOST tastes like Asia itself." But as regular customers know already, it's team Starry Kitchen's unpredictability and shock factor (weed dinner, banana suit) that has made them both famous and beloved.
Starry Kitchen is open Tuesday to Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Follow Squid Ink at @LAWeeklyFood and check out our Facebook page. Clarissa blogs about Asian food at clarissawei.com. Follow her on Twitter.