For my birthday, my parents took me to STREET, a restaurant in Hollywood that serves street food from all over the world tapas-style. This was a perfect choice for my birthday dinner, as I consider a great meal to be one in which I get to enjoy many different foods, and not just one big entree. Furthermore, I love trying new things, especially great local foods, which are most often embodied in the form of street food.
STREET is the creation of Susan Feniger, most well known for Border Grill in Santa Monica, and keeps much of the same feel of great food in a casual California setting. Most of the seating is outside, keeping to the street concept, and there is enough variety that everyone will be happy (even the pickiest of eaters like my father). My mom had been to the restaurant before, and was adamant that the kaya toast be a part of our meal.
It was one of the first items that we were served (I think we ended up ordering most of the menu), and wasn’t what I was expecting at all. From the description (toast, coconut jam, egg, dark soy, white pepper), I was expecting more of a breakfast sandwich, but this was better than it ever could have been in breakfast form. The coconut jam, though definitely sweet, was never overpowering, and well balanced by the distinctive flavors of the soy and white pepper. The toast itself was buttery and perfectly golden, the best kind of toast, in my opinion, to dip in egg. The egg was great, and all together, this dish was totally unexpectedly delicious.
Kaya toast, which takes its name after the jam used in the dish, is very popular in its native countries of Malaysia and Singapore. Taken at face value, it may not seem like the kind of food you would find in these places, but kaya toast is actually the product of British influence. Kaya, or coconut egg jam, is a traditional food, while the toast can be attributed to the British diet that infiltrated the culture through colonialism. As the two cultures mingled, the jams and preserves that the British ate on their toast were replaced by the local kaya. Soon, kaya toast became a staple food. Today, there is even a franchise of restaurants that has become famous for its kaya toast. In fact, Ya Kun Kaya Toast‘s slogan is “The toast that binds…Kinship, Friendship, Partnership.” Not only is this reminiscent of the combination of the two distinct cultures that created kaya toast, but also highlights that food plays an important role in all cultures.
I must say that I was skeptical of the kaya toast at first, but I ate the last bite while regretfully wishing there was more on the plate and that I hadn’t had to share it in the first place. Next time I eat at STREET, and there will definitely be a next time, I will be just as adamant as my mom in my recommendation.