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Starry Kitchen is open downtown, starring crispy tofu balls (a.k.a. Game Changer No. 2) and more

February 23, 2010 |  3:21 pm

Starrykitchen

Starry Kitchen has opened for lunch in the courtyard of California Plaza with a rotating menu of fun, eclectic pan-Asian specialties, thanks to owners Nguyen and Thi Tran.

The Trans started cooking underground dinners for family and friends in their North Hollywood apartment eight months ago and already have made the leap to a bona fide restaurant in the former 8Fish space. The restaurant debuted last week. Main dishes, such as Korean short ribs, Vietnamese coconut braised pork, lemon grass chicken and crispy tofu balls, rotate weekly. Order dishes as a lunch plate or in a wrap, sandwich or salad, with sides such as pineapple fried rice and jap chae.

The crispy tofu balls are made with marinated ground tofu mixed with whole kernels of corn, dipped in buttermilk, coated in glutinous green (yes, green) rice, deep fried and topped with spicy mayonnaise. They're vegetarian, and they're what Nguyen calls "Game Changer No. 2" for those who might eschew non-meat dishes. (Game Changer No. 1: Thi's crispy kimchi rice cakes, whose secret ingredient is Parmesan cheese.) 

Next week, the crispy tofu balls and Korean short ribs will be replaced with kimchi stir fry and king oyster mushrooms (also a vegetarian dish) and Japanese hamburger curry, respectively.

Open Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

350 S Grand Ave., Los Angeles,(213) 617-3474, www.starrykitchen.com.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Betty Hallock

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