For anyone who has had to deal with the ominous CA journey, the next few sentences might result in a trip down memory lane.
When I think of my foray into this course, what first comes to mind is all of us, fresh faced 18 year olds, suffering the drudgery of attending coaching classes on the daily. Dawn after dawn, we would park ourselves on thin, hard planks of wood for eight to ten hours at a stretch, willing ourselves to stay awake through the lecturer’s drones, and wolfing down anything marginally edible we could lay our hands on.
I have even witnessed Bournvita being poured on white bread, to be enjoyed as a mid-class snack. I wish I was kidding.
Every cloud however, has a silver lining. I happened to forge some lasting friendships during those trying days, and now take a plateful of pride (and dessert of relief) in the progress our palates have made over the last 5 years, especially considering our less-than-humble beginnings.
Yes, we might still occasionally sustain ourselves on the Provision stores and Irani Cafes like we did back then, but we do make an attempt to dine at a ‘restaurant’ every once in a while (when age comes calling). This was one such evening.
A few minutes of deliberation and some failed calls to make a reservation at other places on our list, we found ourselves welcomed with open arms at One Street Over. And what transpired was a few hours of laughing, some interesting cocktails and lots of delicious food.
One Street Over, much like Bastian, is the brainchild of the dynamic duo- Kelvin Cheung and Boo Kim, and their menu is an eclectic array of American dishes with an extra helping of Asian soul.
You walk into simple, almost sedate interiors, with wrought iron lightbulbs projecting a soothing, dim light onto the sturdy wooden tables and quaint, almost diner-esque booths and velour backed chairs.
The servers are smiling, well spoken, and always ready with a suggestion for the more undecided. So with their assistance and a lot intermittent orders through the evening (which they very patiently bore), this is what we went for:
Taiwanese Pizza Flatbread:
We were given what seemed like a folded CōngYóuBǐng (Taiwanese scallion pancake) stuffed with a robust marinara and melty, stringy mozzarella. While the sauce had some good flavour, it did not deliver on the punch of spice promised on the menu. In my opinion, the more shouty flavours within drowned out the subtle savoury pancake base. A tasty dish, but not mind-meltingly good.
Boo’s KFC (Korean Fried Chicken)
I LOVE a good dakgangjeong, which in its essence is crispy double fried chicken coated in a sticky spicy and sweet glaze, and this version delivered on all accounts. The little bites have a beautiful, almost candied crunch on the outside (presumably from the potato starch) and the sauce enveloping these fried morsels of perfection, is a wonderful troika of sweet, spicy and savoury gusto. The liberal addition of crunchy onion, roasted red chillies, scallions and nutty sesame had even the vegetarians in our group scraping the plate for a taste!
Truffle Fries with Parmesan and Scallions
A very unassuming plate of fries makes its way to our table, and we all go in for a bite. There is collective crunch, punctuated with a look of thinly veiled incredulity at each other. And after a good 30 seconds of silent savouring, a friend whispers, “I think I just touched heaven”.
Heaven sounded about right to me. What was this gorgeous thing, and why had it taken me 23 years to taste it?? Moreish, crunchy and so utterly satisfying, the potent truffle flavour marries beautifully with the salty cheese and fresh scallions. The truffle mayo served alongside is savoury goodness in a bowl and the skin-on fries themselves are the ultimate crispy vehicle for the beautiful riot sprinkled atop.
Kung Pao Broccoli
Fresh, crunchy broccoli, salted toasty bites of peanut, all tossed in a thin but flavourful sauce- what’s not to like? We even made the two broccoli-haters in the group have a taste which resulted in pleasant looks of surprise, not disgust. A resounding yes, for sure.
Tofu Bao, Chilli Soy garlic and Gunpowder
Average at best, the soft tofu had a saccharine sweet glaze that in no way complemented the gunpowder on top. What I would have loved to see is a slightly firmer tofu, roasted and topped with a more acidic counterpart to the gunpowder, like perhaps a kimchi butter or a gochujang glaze. Needless to say, the dish didn’t hold a candle to all the other stars on our table that evening.
Dan Dan Noodles
It could be my South Indian genes, but there is something so comforting about this dish. Thick noodles in a warm coconut and peanut broth with a very surprising kick of spice. This ticked all the boxes on what a good, soulful bowl of food should be. I only wish I wasn’t so stuffed already because it deserved a lot more attention than it got. Word to the wise though- if coconut milk or peanuts aren’t your thing, I would suggest giving this a pass, because the strong flavours of the two with the chilli are hard to miss.
Gnocchi, roasted garlic cream, charred corn
Pillowy soft on the inside yet perfectly toasted on the outside, the gnocchi was made beautifully here. The accompanying sauce is rich and creamy with clear notes of garlic and parmesan. The corn provided a refreshing cut of sweetness to otherwise heavy dish but the peppers mentioned on the menu were mysteriously absent in our serving. The sauce being so heavy, I would have preferred a higher gnocchi to sauce ratio, because it does get a tad overwhelming after a few bites. But that said, the mesh of flavour was absolutely spot on, and we finished every last bit of gnocchi in there.
To sum it all, we had a lovely evening; and what stood out even more for me was the sheer number of vegetarian options which worked particularly well for our group. The food is big on taste and uses a barrage of ingredients and cooking styles which ensures they all have something of substance to offer to the palate. Most of our dishes held their own and I see myself repeating them should I visit again, with a possible addition of one of the many pork plates I found myself drooling over but couldn’t order.
I guess I don’t mind menus with a whole lot of variety after all. Especially when the dishes are executed as well as the ones we sampled from Boo’s kitchen.
I hope to be back soon!