I have to imagine the thought process behind opening K2 at its current location went something like this:
“I want to open up a bahn mi/dim sum/sushi/Chinese/Japanese restaurant, but I want it to look exactly like Kudeta. If only there was a place for me.”
“You’re in luck, K2 Owner! We have exactly the place! And you won’t have to change a thing! Paper chandeliers as far as the eye can see! What’s that? You want a wall made exclusively of neon lit water? Well by golly, are you in luck!”
I mean, sure, the last places in this spot failed, but maybe this time it’ll be different.
The Curse of the Temple St Garage
Legends tell the tale of an old restauranter who dared to open an Asian Fusion joint under the Cursed Garage (you can tell it’s cursed just by walking around it, there’s urine everywhere). He was a brave, but stupid man. Or woman. Either way, really.
Sure, just open a restaurant under a concrete post-modern garage structure where nobody can ever find street parking. We’ll jam the thing full of neon lights and long, flowing drapes. What could go wrong?
They say he/she still haunts the restaurant, slowing down service, removing (clearly necessary) knives from your dinner sets, and even adding superfluous pages to the menu. What, another full page of sushi?!
What is this, Gravity’s Rainbow? Come on, nobody can read Thomas Pynchon.
“Please set aside 20-30 minutes to read your menu.”
You’ll want to arrive early and bring your reading glasses, cause this menu is a doozy. Waves after waves of dishes and brief explanations (a relief), leaving you little time to breathe, never mind order a surprisingly affordable Road 2 Ruin (6 bucks!).
The menu is as endless as it is schizophrenic.
They have bahn mi. They have traditional Southeastern Chinese items. They have Malaysian recipes. They have sushi. They have Dim Sum. They pretty much covered the entire Asian continent.
It’s as if the selection process went like this:
“Hmmm. Not sure if we should add this item.”
“Is it served anywhere on the entire Asian continent?”
“Well, er, yeah, but–”
“PUT IT ON THERE.”
(Best read in the voice of Scorpion from Mortal Kombat.)
But is it any good?
Yeah, it’s… pretty… pretty… good.
I got the Chicken Sambal Belacan, while my compatriots ordered vegetarian dishes because they’re communists. And also vegetarians. They also got some sweet potato sushi which is just not sushi at all but I’m not going to murder anybody over it. And for not-sushi, it was quite savory and flavorful.
The food also came out unbelievably quickly. Not sure if they just knew what I was going to order or have a time machine in the kitchen. If it’s anything like the decor, Kudeta probably just left one behind.
The sambal belacan was an interesting dish but a bit bland. Also, they didn’t give me a knife, which seemed somewhat unfair given the rather large pieces of chicken and peppers in it. I’m okay with a set of chopsticks, but I haven’t figured out how to cut with them. Yet.
Of course, when the waiter asked if everything was fine, I automatically regurgitated my “yes, thanks” rather than tell her about gaping hole in my soul where a knife should be.
We all have our regrets.
Still, I did eventually flag her down and get my knife, and then managed to cut my dinner into smaller pieces, which I then enjoyed.
It’s a bit expensive, though the portion sizes are plentiful. The dish had a bit of a kick to it, but it won’t make your sweat. I enjoyed the flavor profile (is that a thing?) but ultimately came away feeling that there was something a bit missing.
It just didn’t blow me away, which is what I’m paying NEARLY TWENTY DOLLARS FOR.
Okay, it was pretty good. But in a city full of very good restaurants, it will have to do a bit better than that.
Will it survive?
Based on the crowd in there when we went in? No. The place is enormous and was probably operating at about 25% capacity. I don’t see how any restaurant is really going to fill the space.
The location is pretty good but parking can be a pain unless you want to park in a garage like a filthy out-of-towner. Maybe they need to offer free parking? Maybe they do — but I didn’t see a sign. But I’m not really about that sign-reading life.
Either way, it’s hard to see K2 really breaking the mold, though I liked everybody I met who worked there, and the service was pretty good.
Except when we got the checks and there was a minor mix-up involving a lack of credit card and/or proper receipts, but we’ll just blame the ol’ Kudeta Ghost for that one. Stupid jerk ghosts.
Final Grade: B-
What I Liked: Convenient location. Beautiful decor (Kudeta nostalgia chic). Food came out shockingly fast. Almost too fast. Lots of options.
What I Didn’t Like: Menu is overwhelming. Service was decent, not great. Food a bit on the bland side, though interesting menu overall.