Susan Feniger brings a whole new meaning to the definition of Street food. Her appropriately named restaurant elevates traditional street dishes from across the globe. The menu might seem all over the place, but everything works and ties together through fresh ingredients and unusual flavor combinations. It’s a one-of-a-kind restaurant, and clearly topped the list of restaurants to try for my trip to LA.
Like all LA dining, you need to know where you are going. There really is no such thing as stumbling upon a little hole in the wall, while exploring a new neighborhood. This doesn’t exist, and my sister couldn’t understand the fact that I was unable to wrap my head around the inability to ‘just walk around.’ In between unusual LA sun showers, we made our way into Hollywood to Susan Feniger’s Street. We parked the car on a side street and saw the bright, colorful signs, signifying we found our destination.
We entered inside to the bright and inviting restaurant. A gentleman wearing a red banana around his head led us to a table in the back, apologizing for the closed outdoor seating area due to the rain. People in LA really don’t know what to do in the rain, or cold. We smiled, and I giggled remembering that I was just in snowy New York that morning.
As he handed us our menus, he recommended trying the Kaya Toast, a dish they are known for. This Singapore street food dish was featured on Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Made: Sure Thing. It’s considered the Singapore Hangover Cure, and I was fascinated to know why. We knew immediately that this would be the first dish of the meal.
It’s hard to explain the complexity and wonderful nature of this dish. It was unlike anything I have ever tried, combining sweet, salty, rich, peppery and decadent all into one dish. The little pieces of toast pack so much flavor. Thick pieces of bread are lightly toasted on the outside, but the inside of the bread is still light and fluffy. The coconut jam had to be one of the most unusually delicious fillings. The coconut jam is created by soaking pandan leaves, an exotic leaf found in a lot of Asian style cooking, in coconut milk to give a complexity of flavor and a slight bit of spice. A generous portion of the jam is spread on the thick cut pieces of white bread, and topped off with a thin sliver of salted butter. The saltiness of the butter, adds a surprisingly depth of flavor rounding out the toast portion of the dish.
In order to eat the dish, you open up the piece of toast and place some of the running yolk and egg white onto the bread and jam. I then dipped the other half in the dark soy, which has a richer, deeper flavor then the normal soy you find at a sushi restaurant. Finally you recreate the sandwich and take a big messy bite. Immediately you are transformed into an unbelievable state of culinary bliss and confusion, wondering how something so simple could be so extraordinary. I couldn’t seem to wrap my head around the greatness of the Kaya Toast, instantly falling in love bite after bite. My sister, Leigh, normally dislikes coconut, but found herself liking the plate clean wanting more.
I almost felt sad for all of the other dishes, since nothing would ever be able to top this extraordinary transformation of street food to one of the most unusually and wonderful dishes I have ever enjoyed. The toast alone will keep me flying six hours cross-country for a bite.
Onto the other dishes. I apologize in advance, my lack of enthusiasm will be slightly apparent. The Kaya Toast still has me drooling, even after the fact.
We realized we needed to insert some protein into our meal, ordering the Albacore Sashimi.
Thin slices of tuna soaked up the ponzu sauce, infusing the fish with light, Asian flavoring. The most interesting part of the sashimi was the pear and picked radish salad on top. I would never have anticipated the combination of flavors to work, but it did. This dish seemed extremely “LA” to me, keeping everything extremely light and fresh. It was a great piece of fish, but really nothing as memorable as the toast.
While we enjoyed our sashimi, the waitress tried to bring out our next order. The gentleman who had seated us earlier, quickly asked if we wanted it to wait in the kitchen while we enjoyed our first few dishes. As it turns out, he was the chef, who was extremely warm, welcoming and made our dining experience the best it could be. The waitress, on the other hand, was just okay.
Our next dish of choice was a Soledad Goat Cheese Crostini. Normally, Leigh and I wouldn’t order a meal that was bread on bread on bread, but the chef suggested this dish, and we trusted his opinion.
We were immediately thankful for his suggestion. Similar to the Kaya Toast, the flavor combinations were one of a kind. I don’t think I will ever see these flavors on a menu. Grape Salsa? Totally unbelievable. Warm goat cheese acting as the binding element to the dish, giving a creaminess and slight salty flavor to the sourdough bread. Next, the braised endive was absolutely delicious and rich, without feeling heavy. I thought it was the most unique way of incorporating vegetables into the dish, by making it an almost pureed mixture. The grape salsa added bursts of sweetness, followed by the crunch of the almonds. Finally, the mint rounded out the entire crostini giving bursts of freshness with every single bite. I loved this monstrosity of a crostini. It was so appealing, a gentleman from the table next to us came over to ask what the dish was, before ordering it for himself and his daughter. It was definitely a show stopper.
Finally, we decided to add the Shaved Kale and Brussels Sprouts dish to end the meal.
The kale and brussels sprouts were prepared raw, living that delicious crunch. It felt as if it was a side dish, rather then a full meal, which was necessary after a few heavy courses. Pieces of creamy goat cheese would make its way into some bites, melding everything together. Despite the cheese, the dish still felt extremely light. The lemony element to the meal signified the end to the dining experience, preventing the lingering feeling that you need more.
Come for the Kaya Toast, stay for the great atmosphere and other unique street food made gourmet. We kept eying all of the dishes around us, realizing there were so many more dishes to be explored and things to try. It’s the perfect spot for a casual lunch or dinner, and ability to try different food from all over the globe. If you find yourself in LA, Susan Feniger’s Street should definitely make its way onto your ‘places to try list’ because I am certainly glad I went.
Susan Feniger’s Street – 742 North Highland Avenue – Los Angeles, CA
Susan Feniger’s Street
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Type: Asian Fusion, New American
Perfect For: Casual Meal, Adventurous Eating, Outdoor Seating, Big Groups, Small Plates
Reservations: Available via OpenTable
Favorite Dishes: Kaya Toast, Goat Cheese Crostini, Greek Artichoke