Lucky Red 2.0
Lucky Red has reopened and no longer is it just diet version of Banh Mi Boys - it might look almost the same inside but no longer is it a quick service concept. This restaurant now has an identity all its own.
The counter has been converted into a bar, while the high tops and stools have been replaced with proper dining tables and a long banquette.
Starting with cocktails is advised, 2.5 ounce refreshments dangerously easy to drink and meant to fuel your appetite for salty snack foods.
The Sakura ($11) blends Dillon's gin and elderflower liqueur with sriracha and lavender syrups and is garnished with blueberries.
The menu is all new and deals in steamed buns and "noms" priced primarily under $10. Each dish is portioned for sharing.
Nachos Koreano ($8) look like the Tex-Mex staple, but are really more akin to dumplings. The dish is constructed with porked filled wontons that are flattened, deep fried and then topped with cheese kimchi salsa, spicy Korean mayo and scallions. There's nothing not to like here.
The Hambaoger ($8 per pair) is essentially a Big Mac, only better. The patty made of kalbi beef is greasy, and juicy, its exterior nicely seared on the griddle. It is dressed with a mix of shredded cheddar and gouda, secret sauce, pickles and lettuce.
Five spice fried chicken ($7 for two pieces) is excellent, boasting crispy crackling skin while the meat inside is tender and moist. The house hot sauce with serrano peppers isn't lying, the heat hits instantly then cools to reveal subtle fruity sweet notes. Pickled kohlrabi and fennel are there for relief.
The one thing that remains on the menu from Lucky Red's previous incarnation is the deep fried s'mores bao ($3.50).
While these are a sure thing, you could take a chance by trying the durian tart ($8), a slightly funky, sweet creamy custard in a graham cracker shell with a dollop of coconut pandan ice cream on top.
For now, Lucky Red is exclusively open for dinner and drinks, keeping the kitchen open until midnight so long as interest is there. Lunch service is to be launched this summer.
Photos by Jesse Milns