The launch of Nancy Wilhelm’s Starfish Laguna kicked off over the weekend with a charity event benefiting The Pacific Marine Mammal Center. I, along with fellow bloggers joined the Laguna Beach glitterati to catch a glimpse of this new Pan-Asian addition.
Inside, the restaurant is sleek and chic with a fully equipped bar to serve up drinks and tasty cocktails.
We were given a taste of selected items from the menu showcasing the eclectic Asian influences from countries such as Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and more.
Green Curry Chicken stays true to the original and I love the use of brown rice to give it a little more texture and nutty flavor.
Lemongrass Filet skewers were wonderfully aromatic and I could really taste the bits of lemongrass throughout. I think this was a favorite amongst our group.
The true test of banh mi is the bread and Kobe Banh Mi Beef Sliders failed miserably for me. The soft bun was well, too soft and wasn’t able to stand up to what it was trying to do, and that is, to hold the thing together.
The do chua (Vietnamese daikon and carrot pickle salad) was so overpowering I couldn’t taste the Kobe beef under all of that. It could’ve been ground chuck for all I know, because all my mouth got was the intensity of the do chua.
BBQ Chicken Lumpia is a little greasy but oh so tasty. The spring roll wrapper remained crispy and the filling is flavorful albeit devoid of any hint of barbecue.
Saigon Spring Rolls are similar to the lumpia using the same wrapper, but trust me when I say, these vegetarian rolls are not to be reckoned with. I actually liked them so much I ate quite a few of these. They were even better than the lumpia.
I am very familiar with mochiko chicken having lived in Hawaii before and while the Mochiko Chicken Teri here is nothing like its Hawaiian cousin, it is nonetheless moist and flavorful. The teriyaki is not overpowering in any way but I wish I could’ve tasted the crispy toothiness of the mochiko somewhere on the chicken.
Mauna Kai Ahi Poke was served on taro chips and is a nice take on one of my favorite Hawaiian dishes. The fish is fresh but was truffle oil really necessary? You be the judge of that!
The staff were absolutely amazing even under the stress of an overpacked room filled with people demanding food and drinks. Not only were they up to speed on bringing the trays of food around, but they even managed to keep my rambunctious group of friends sedate with the rounds of drinks they brought by. I applaud them for their awesome service!
The food was also stellar considering it was mass produced to serve so many in so little time. If this is a hint of what they are capable of, I am confident when you are sitting in that pretty dining room of their’s with the kitchen’s attention completely focused on your meal, it will undoubtedly shine. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be back to find out!
30832 S Pacific Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651