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RESTAURANTS: Scene Setter

Street

Susan Feniger samples exotic street foods the globe over at her aptly named new restaurant. Bring friends and prepare to share.

April 20, 2009|S. IRENE VIRBILA | RESTAURANT CRITIC

You didn't have to be a genius to predict that Susan Feniger's new Street -- focused on street food of the world -- would be a big hit with the guerrilla gourmando set. Or that some diners would be shocked -- shocked! -- by the prices, which don't exactly compute with the idea of street food, and the $8.50 valet parking. Vivid with spices and chiles and oddball textures, the menu is a quick whirl around the world, spending more time in Asia and the Middle East than Mexico or South America. The latter is, I guess, been there, done that, for the co-founder (with Mary Sue Milliken) of Border Grill, the late City and Ciudad.

Street, which is more or less cater-corner from the Mozzas, is painted inside and out in sizzling, super-saturated reds and oranges. Figures outlined in white romp over the walls. There's an outdoor patio that's as big, if not bigger, than the inside, with tomato-red umbrellas stretched overhead and a fire pit for chillier nights.

Feniger and executive chef Kajsa Alger are working double-time to turn out the sprawling menu of small dishes from around the world. Instead of bread, you get intricately spiced millet balls. They're sweet and laced with curry and other spices, and I found myself sneaking another one. And another.

My friends and I ordered a slew of dishes, which came out in waves. I loved the crispy dal dumplings or fritters with yogurt and mint sauces; the Cuban potato cakes stuffed with beef, raisins and capers; and the Turkish zucchini and spinach cake in puff pastry. Plenty of options for vegetarians here. Japanese shiso shrimp, wrapped in nori and crisp pastry, were a hit at my table too.

I meant to try the $16 pho to see how it measured up against the city's Vietnamese spots, but forgot. But I did get the Malaysian black pepper clams dosed with lots of cracked black pepper. Korean short-ribs, though, were bony and tough. Get the lamb kofta cooked on skewers in the wood-burning oven instead. And do try the wild and woolly toast spread with a thick layer of sweet coconut jam, which comes with a soft-boiled egg for dipping the toast. It's not dessert, but it might as well be.

I'm going to wait until things settle down a bit before I go back. By then, the kitchen should be up to speed, the crowds somewhat abated, and the menu rejiggered to reflect what works and what doesn't. And while I sense a resistance to small plates out there, these aren't all that small, and they're very different than anything else. Go ahead, take a trip on the wild side.

virbila@latimes.com

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Street

Where: 742 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles

When: Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 11 a.m. to midnight Thursday to Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Beer and wine. Valet parking in the

rear, $8.50

Price: Mix and match small plates, $7 to $32

Contact: (323) 203-0500, www.eatatstreet.com

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