Starry Kitchen, which went from underground supper club to Downtown LA cafe to semi-permanent pop-up at Tiara Cafe, is moving on to its third, and hopefully, last spot. "I promised my wife earlier this year if we weren't at a place we were happy and stable by November 1st, we may just shut it all down," Nguyen tells us. "We gotta make this work or go out with a BANG. And I ain't f*&king around about that either." So starting this Friday, you'll find Starry Kitchen at Chinatown's longstanding Grand Star Jazz Club, right behind the new "badass" Bruce Lee statue.
The decision to head to Chinatown had a little to do with the resurgence happening there, especially with Roy Choi's Chego now doing a bang-up job nearby. In fact, Nguyen gives huge props to Choi and the Kogi team. "They're the catalyst that convinced us to consider it," he says. "We're really happy to be their neighbors and make Chinatown potentially...BALLS town, with their 3PM meatballs and our crispy tofu balls in one place. #ChinatownBallers."
The opening will be super soft with limited seating. There won't be many changes in decor yet - the Tran's don't want to make it look new or posh, and really want to keep the history and kitschy vibe - and they don't have all of their tableware yet. In fact, you may be eating out of paper boats and plates, but that might stick. "We want to have people see the space before we change it up. It will be great to have people give us fun input that maybe we'll incorporate, give it a sense of community that we always love," Nguyen says.
Because of Grand Star's regular club nights, SK will serve dinner from 5-10 PM, Wednesday through Saturday (no lunch, but who knows, they might keep the underground poetry/lunch downtown), and the menu will be similar to what they've been doing elsewhere, including that crazy popular Singaporean chile crab.
"We're still balancing our marrying of cultures," says Nguyen. "This place used to be THE Chinese restaurant in all of LA back in the day. It's been there for 75 years, defunct for 20 years now. There's lots of history here, and a great place for us to get our bearings straight and continue our craziness."
943 N. Broadway