Go Now: Street Kitchen Asian Bistro

January 24 2011, 11:00 AM

Chef Mary Nguyen (of Parallel Seventeen) has created a winner with Street Kitchen Asian Bistro. Her three-week-old Asian street-food restaurant at the Vallagio at Inverness is already wowing diners with street food that spans Malaysia, China, Vietnam, Japan, and Thailand.

The casual space bustles with raw energy, and tables are packed with eager diners enjoying family-style fare that ranges from dim sum (don't miss the spot-on barbecued pork buns) and satays to noodle bowls and rotisserie meats.

Standouts include the okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese pancake of cabbage, pickled gingerroot, and scallions, topped with a sweet-tart glaze and Japanese aïoli. Each bite tastes slightly different—sometimes of ginger, other times of shrimp—but the flavors and textures are entirely addictive.

I found the miso-glazed short ribs tough and grizzly, and all around less successful than dishes from the top of the menu. But I'll go back for the silky, cinnamon-rich massaman curry with braised beef, potatoes, onions, peanuts, and basil. According to menu, the heady dish originated when early Muslim traders brought their dry spices to Thailand.

For dessert, deep-fried banana fritters arrive piping hot and drizzled with salted caramel, but it's the crispy sesame balls—sticky rice dumplings stuffed with lotus-seed paste—that are irresistible. The crunchy-then-gummy texture gives way to a slightly sweet, almost custardy inside that rings with authenticity.

Tip: Given the prices, portions are larger than you'd expect, so keep that in mind when ordering.

10111 Inverness Main St., Englewood, 303-799-9800