Gold Alights Again on Starry Kitchen

Thi Tran's cult crustacean
Thi Tran's cult crustacean Photo: Starry Kitchen

Jonathan Gold details the punishing frustration one feels when missing out on Starry Kitchen’s Singaporean chili crab, a cult dish that diners are driving from Ventura and San Diego to get their claws on. Missing the crab, but never an opportunity to big-up the Downtown restaurant, he delivers what feels like his umpteenth declaration of admiration for the joint, retelling its origin story, recounting the THC-light sensi dinner, dubbing it a mega-load of meta, and regaling us with the kinky dress-up games played by its owner. The menu at Starry’s new Tiara Cafe iteration is more fixed, focused on family-style servings of “citrusy chunks of chicken thigh, wrapped like a tamale in (inedible) pandan leaf and deep-fried,” tofu balls that quickly “congeal into clay,” double-fried chicken wings, fried rice with pork belly, satay noodles with Niman Ranch beef that’s “a recipe for definitive funkiness,” and Vietnamese bo la lot. Among all the South-Asian splendors, the best bits–bass heads, chicken feet, Burmese chicken wing confit, and that must-have crab–tend to sell-out before you’ll find parking. [LAT]