When Interstellar first opened on a busy stretch of Broadway in Santa Monica, it was just a few days before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Wife-and-husband team Angie and Daniel Kim persevered, and made their restaurant stand out with a robust coffee program and creative dishes that reflect both their Korean and American backgrounds. Even the cafe’s name is a nod to the space that exists in between their cultural identities.
Recently, the couple closed the cafe for a month to begin a new chapter on their journey: one that includes launching a dinner service — complete with cocktails, wine, and a new interior design. They repainted the bright, 1,100-square-foot cafe with dark green tones to capture a more elegant evening vibe. Additionally, a gradient wallpaper mimicking the nighttime sky was installed and new furniture, including black oak tables, was brought in.
The restaurant’s metamorphosis came out of the pandemic. “Due to the timing of COVID, we ended up having a lot of time on our hands,” Angie says. “It gave me and the kitchen team some time to really explore some new dishes, things I’ve always wanted to create. We thought it’d be a great way to remodel and refresh.”
Angie, who previously worked in the kitchens of Nerano in Beverly Hills and Michelin-starred Casa Vicina in Torino, Italy, includes a few daytime favorites on the dinner menu, like a lobster roll punctuated by sambal butter and nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce). New additions include a creamy mentaiko pasta with seaweed, shiso, and Parmesan; a black truffle kimchi fried rice with pork loin and a fried egg; and seared branzino in a shiitake-kombu dashi.
To drink, the restaurant expanded its wine list from just a handful of pours to nearly 15, with reds and whites hailing from Italy, France, and Sonoma. The shochu-based cocktail program continues the playfulness of the Korean American food menu. The earl gray highball comes with house-made, tea-infused syrup, Kinjo Shiro shochu, and lemon peel, while a Moscow mule variant is made with Iichiko shochu, lime juice, and ginger ale.
The daytime menu remains mostly the same, with its popular lineup of breakfast sandwiches, burritos, french toast, and bulgogi burgers. However, Angie recently added a few new dishes including her take on Japanese natto over rice. “We marinate the yolk in a spicy truffle ponzu sauce for three hours and add that on top of the natto,” she says. Also new to the lunch menu are Japanese-style sandos stuffed with panko-crusted pork loin, tuna salad, and more, using milk bread from Ginza Nishikawa, a popular Japanese shokupan purveyor operating out of the Colony ghost kitchen in Santa Monica.
Daniel, who has been working in the coffee industry for a decade and heads the coffee program, continues to brew a straightforward menu of drips, espressos, and lattes using beans from Onyx Coffee Lab in Arkansas.
The connection between coffee and Korean American dishes is a reflection of Daniel and Angie’s lives. “After getting married, we decided, ‘Why not? Let’s create something together,” Angie says.
Interstellar is open daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m, and for dinner Thursday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.