Rating: A fun resto-lounge for a decent meal and drinks. Skip the oysters.
I love family-style dining: ie. share plates for everyone! This comes from the Asian side of me – but it also means that I get to try more food and what can be any better than that? Wherever I go, even if it’s the type of place where you order your own entrée, I still prefer to share and split meals with whoever I’m with if they’re up for it (and even when they’re not, as my boyfriend would know. I think he’s getting used to this now and has finally just given in).
Last night, I tried another new place after I had gotten my fill from shopping. So, I wandered over to Santana Row which is kind of like two streets of shopping and restaurants (the Yaletown of San Jose?). There, I met up with a co-worker and we wandered up and down the row to try to pick our fuel for the evening. We wandered past a couple Italian places, some really Americanized looking Japanese restaurants, and quite a few other options before we walked all the way back to the first place we stumbled upon: Straits Restaurant – Santana Row.
It was really busy when we walked in around 9 pm, and there was a DJ playing some fairly loud music in the corner. Apparently there are quite a few hockey fans down here as well, since there was a huge crowd in front of the big screen tv behind the bar, watching the Sharks play. The ambience was great – kind of a resto-lounge feel with a lot of lively people, and it was all decorated in time for Hallowe’en.
We started off with a half-dozen oysters – big mistake! Remind me to not do that again when I’m outside of Vancouver unless it’s in a world-reknowned place for these types of mollusks. A couple of them tasted kind of milky to the point where we were joking around and hoping that we wouldn’t be stuck in the bathroom for the rest of the night. We also tried the Murtabak, which is basically roti stuffed with some spiced meat and a curry flavoured dipping sauce. This one was actually pretty salty, and I almost wonder if they accidentally spilled a bit too much of the spice in while cooking. The best of the small plates was the Vietnamese Beef Carpaccio. I loved the flavour of the dressing on the veggies on this – it tasted very fresh and was so delicious! There was a bit of cilantro, some mint, capers (I love their little salty-goodness) and the flavour combination left me wanting more.
Now on to the larger plates: the Origami Seabass was the overall winner here. I loved the texture and could be biased (this is one of my top favourite types of fish behind sablefish). There were longans (kind of like a mini-lychee nut fruit), red peppers, shitake mushrooms, and a rice wine sauce and it was served in a neat paper box that kept all of the steam inside. We had this with a massive bowl of Nasi Goreng – coconut fried rice with prawns and a mixture of veggies. Sometimes I still need to adjust to the sizes of the dishes down in the U.S. because I tend to over-order (and overeat) while I’m south of the border.
The drinks here were also quite tasty. We tried the mango soda which was perfect as it wasn’t overly sweet, and the lemongrass mint soda which was pretty good, but would’ve been better if there was a bit of alcohol in it. It basically tasted like a fresh mohito without the rum. Next time I go back, it’ll have to be when I don’t have an early morning meeting and can try more of the non-virgin options.
I noticed that this lounge has two other locations in California (San Francisco and Burlingame) as well as one in Atlanta, Georgia, should you venture in those cities as well and want to give Straits a try. Overall, the flavours were fresh, the lounge was bustling and the decor was festive. I will be back.