Poleng Lounge Lives Up to Anthony Bourdain's Billing

Bay Area foodie reviews Poleng Lounge

Tuesday, Sep 1, 2009  |  Updated 4:40 PM PDT
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The Tasty Delights of Poleng Lounge

Filipino-style ceviche of butterfish cooked in sugarcane vinegar, lime juice and coconut milk, with Thai chiles.

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I never knew a lounge could have such good food. Until the Anthony Bourdain book release last year, I associated the place with only music. But when my friend Dom and I met Poleng Lounge’s Executive Chef Tim Luym at the event, we knew we’d have to visit for dinner. The menu is a nod to his Filipino heritage, and it does not dissapoint.

We began our meal with the Wanu Kinilaw, a Filipino-style ceviche of butterfish cooked in sugarcane vinegar, lime juice and coconut milk, with Thai chiles, toybox tomatoes and cilantro. It could have used a bit more kick for my taste but was otherwise melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

We split the sweet potato fries with banana catsup. If you know me, you know I love fries. I’ve had this dish elsewhere before and maybe it was the ambience of the warm and cozy Asian-inspired interior or my excitement over the menu overall, but I preferred it here.

Our third plate was the Buddha’s Treasures, or pan-fried dumplings with vegetables, dusted with matcha green tea powder, lotus root chips, and a black sesame ponzu sauce. I make lotus root chips at home, so I was thrilled to see them being used on the menu.

The real standout of the meal, however, was the Bo Luc Lac “Shaking Beef,” marinated sirloin stir-fried with nuoc mam, perfectly pickled red onions, and peppercress. If you want to win me over, throw something pickled in a dish and I will swoon.

For dessert we had the coconut bread pudding drizzled with hazelnut caramel, and the ube coconut tapioca, a soup-like tapioca with coconut milk, and Thai basil seeds sprinkled on top. It was reminiscent of bubble tea, but better. Oh, and did I mention I love ube?

I have to admit that I was initially skeptical about Poleng Lounge serving up artisan teas and Asian street food, especially with all the frou-frou tea lounges popping up all over the city (I’m talking to you, Samovar). But put aside your skeptism and go.

These guys know what they’re doing.

Mariam Hosseini is a Bay Area native who has been writing about food and travel for six years. She blogs regularly at yogurtsoda.com.
 

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