Nguyen Tran, who runs the pan-Asian restaurant with his chef-wife, Thi, feels the pain, really he does, dashing between tables, listening to the howls of disgruntled patrons, many of whom have driven from as far as San Diego or Ventura for a shot at the crab, which is a cult item rarely available outside its southeast Asian home ... The crab is that good.
The fried rice is made with slivers of roast pork belly and the dried-seafood components of XO sauce, which makes the rice expensive at $15 but also irresistible: caramelized, half-crunchy, ultra-garlicky and exploding with chewy bursts of umami ...Starry Kitchen has survived many iterations from pop-up to restaurant and back to pop-up, "It's all very complicated," writes The Goldster. If anything, call in advance and reserve the chili crab. [LAT]
B-Rod is confused by Trattoria Neapolis' California-Italian menu though finds redemption in the restaurant's pizzas: "The success story on this menu is undoubtedly the pizzas ... From there, the fantasy begins to crumble. Nothing at Trattoria Neapolis is terrible, but many dishes struggle with blandness and identity. The combination of Italy and California works on paper but not as well in practice. Confusion sets in: Is this feel-good, old-school, Italian comfort food or is it more refined? Either would be great — it's the murky middle ground that doesn't work." [LAW]