We have never been to Asia. We have been to China Town and Japan Town in San Francisco and China Town in Honolulu, all of which I’m guessing are somewhat authentic, but I didn’t see anything in any of those places that resembled what I think of as Street Food. In fact, when I think of Street Food, I think of Austin, TX and the plethora of makeshift trailer eateries scattered across the city (Aaron and I call them roach coaches, but there is a good chance that we are the only ones that do).
The unfinished storefront of StreetFood Asia on Central just west of Carlise has been tantalizing us for months. We’ve walked by, we’ve seen the trendy looking décor and façade coming together, and we’ve wanted to know 1) what is Street Food if not roach coach style and 2) When is this new Nob Hill restaurant opening?
Apparently the restaurant opened sometime in January without our noticing, so this weekend we decided to check it out with the Lavender In-Laws.
I will preface by saying the food is REALLY good here. I am by no means an expert in “authentic” Asian cuisine (I do love me some Chinese take-out, and have been known to overindulge in sushi but I hear they don’t actually eat that in China or Japan), but the food here is what I imagine authentic Asian to be. No Beef and Broccoli, no Teppan Grill. Just soup with noodles and an assortment of Asian tapas. Everything was flavorful and aesthetically presented, and I heard no complaints about anything food related from anyone. Plus, the menu seems diversified. I had curry, Aaron had something from Tokyo, and Mr. Lavender had a Korean sandwich. Different Asian countries seem well represented.
That being said, the menu was pretty confusing. For an entrée you have a choice of soups but I didn’t really understand that all the entrees were soups until someone told me. The soups come in huge bowls that are supposed to serve 3 people, but I don’t really know if I would like slurping soup out of the same bowl as 3 other people, especially because this is one of those chopsticks only eateries. Also, the menu is completely fish based, which is not good for this fish resistant person, but anything can be ordered with beef as a substitute for fish, which isn’t noted on the menu. You can also order sandwiches, but I feel that’s like ordering a burger at an Indian restaurant, so I bravely ordered curry with beef instead of the fish balls and fish chunks that are supposed to be in there, and was satisfied.
The tapas menu is much easier to handle, with staples like egg rolls and satays that are much easier shared than the soup bowl along with other items like chicken buns that I hadn’t heard of. And, if you haven’t had a bad experience with sake like I have, then they have a good looking Sake selection. I think even the pickiest and unadventerous eater can find something on the menu to munch on.
I’m glad that Albuquerque is finally becoming cool enough to add more international flavor. We need more places like this that expose us to cultures outside our own while also adding curb appeal to Nob Hill which was kind of a rundown neighborhood only a few years ago. The restaurant was packed on a Saturday night, so I think it will do well, but I urge everyone to support local restaurants and Asian culture and give this place a try.
Sidenote: I saw Anthony Bourdain’s Cambodia episode yesterday, and in one scene he is seated next to a street vendor eating some type of noodle soup. This leads me to believe that StreetFood Asia is an authentic representation of what you would find exploring the bustling streets in Asia.