Kuta Satay House: NYC: LES

I was coming to NY for a friend's going away party, and so I also wanted to use up a Groupon that would expire in a few weeks.  This was one of the Groupons I bought in the early days before I knocked my credit card out of my hand, slapped each of my cheeks in turn and said, "No no, Arielle, you only buy Groupons to places that are already on your list."  I had paid $20 for a $40 coupon to this restaurant, and looking at the menu online, I really don't understand what I was thinking at the time.  But then the NY summer did all kinds of crazy things to my brain.

Kuta is only open for dinner, starting at 5 PM, so Friday evening was the only time I could go there this trip.  A friend and I planned to meet there at 5 on Friday, as she had to work at 7.  The Groupons almost always say to call ahead for a reservation and to mention one's Groupon, so I did this, even though, as was the case this time, it's often weird to do so as the restaurant in question might get very few reservations, especially for a party for 2 at 5 PM.  But I had to make sure I wasn't going to be denied usage of this thing I paid 20 bucks for to go to a restaurant that's not even that interesting because jerk insists I should've made a reservation and mentioned my Groupon.

Friday afternoon my friend got called into work early and couldn't meet up with me.  I asked another friend who said she'd go.  Then she suggested I change the reservation to 6 PM, which I did.  The people at Kuta were very nice on the phone.  Then my friend said she really couldn't make it, and so I decided to have another ridiculous Groupon dinner by myself.

Upon arrival slightly after 6 PM, I saw that there were only 2 other people there, and so I didn't have to feel bad about all as I explained I was the weirdo with the changing reservation that was now here for dinner, ready to eat $40 worth of food.. alone.  The host/waiter (same guy) was very nice though, totally friendly, congenially laughing with me about my situation.  He said that I could indeed use the money on alcohol if I so desired, so it needn't be that hard to spend that much.

During the 5-7 happy hour, they have $4 beers and $5 cocktails, which are several fruity "martinis," but the one I really wanted to try, the ginger martini, wasn't on the happy hour list.  I had $40 to use though, so I ordered that one anyway.

Ginger Martini: infused ginger soju, fresh lime juice - $10

This cocktail was a little disappointing.  There was some good ginger flavor and obviously real lime juice, but it was watery and lacked cohesiveness.  It's definitely not worth 10 bucks.

The other people in the restaurant, a man and a woman sitting two tables down from me, were doctors as they discussed how they felt no empathy for their sick patients, who really ought to eat better and get more exercise.  They both agreed that they needed to become radiologists so that they could just sit in a room alone, look at x-rays, and then just give their opinions on them.  Apparently, that would be the good life.

I thought for a couple of minutes about doing a $20 or $24 Prix Fixe dinner but determined that you have to order just the right things in order to save any money and that one could actually wind up spending more money with the Prix Fixe than if one were to order straight off the menu, if one ordered enough of the items that add a few dollars to the PF total.

Instead, I calculated how to use exactly $30 more and came up with this:

Beef Sampler - 6.95     Indonesian Madura, Korean Kalbi & Heavenly Kuta

So that I got to try these three, in order from top to bottom in the picture:

Spicy Heavenly Kuta - 5.25
     Flank Steak, Coriander Seeds, Garlic
Indonesian Beef Madura -  5.25
     Flank Steak, Sweet Soy, Peanut Sauce, Crispy Shallots

Korean Kalbi - 5.75
     Short Ribs, Asian Pear Barbeque Sauce, Sesame Oil

The flank steak was nice but nothing special.  The "Indonesian" one was basically just a platform for peanut sauce as that's all you can really taste, and the word I keep coming up with for the peanut sauce is "dull."  I guess that means I would've liked it to be a little spicy, but I also just feel like something else was missing or that there was too much of something.  The sesame oiled short ribs were great though, tender, juicy and delightfully marinated.  I wish there'd been more of the little cucumber, tomato and onion garnish.

Spicy Edamame - 4.95
Soy Bean, Shallot, Red Curry Tamarind Paste

I was hopeful for these edamame since they read to have more going on that the average edamame app, but they were a letdown.  Many of the edamame didn't get it on any of the flavor action, the seasoning barely tossed in, mostly concentrated in the middle.  Where shallots and red curry tamarind paste were present, they didn't give a very strong or interesting flavor anyway.  At least this meant that I didn't have to feel that bad about not eating much of this dish, as I was about to receive this:

Spicy Kuta Burger - 12.95
10 Oz Ground Sirloin, Grilled Pineapple, Garlic Fries, Spicy Dipping Sauce

I really liked that the fries were, for once, a reasonable portion, but the burger was huge.  I'd ordered a 10 oz burger straight from the menu though, so I had myself to blame.

Lookin' good..

Unfortunately, it was a really big beautiful burger that only tasted okay.  The meat itself lacked a strength of flavor (the kind that I find comes with grass-feeding and careful handling, preferably never frozen beef from local sources) but was instead masked in a tangy sauce.  The pineapple was also so huge that any natural bite of the sandwich was overwhelmed by pineapple, thus encouraging me to switch to fork and knife so as to construct bites with more optimal proportions.

Lookin' better than it tastes, in fact.  Though trying to see this through some of my friends' eyes, I realize it probably doesn't actually look that good.

I had the "spicy dipping sauce" from that dish and asked as well for the "lime cilantro chili dipping sauce" that's listed with the steak.  The spicy dipping sauce is the same tangy red sauce from the burger, and it wasn't doing much for me.  The LCCDS was a translucent and rather sweet sauce, and it was tasty but not a fry sauce in my book.  I inquired from my waiter as to whether or not they had anything creamy.  He replied, in a very pleasant tone, that since this was an Asian restaurant they probably didn't, but then he made an, "Oh wait!" gesture and dashed off to the kitchen whence he produced a serving of spicy mayo.  Sigh, that always happens.  I wish I'd seen the "spicy aioli" on the menu (listed with the crab cakes) so that I could see what that got me, but with three dipping sauces (plus ketchup) on my table, I was tired of being an annoying American, so I did my best:

spicy mayo, the thing I always accidentally receive at Asian restaurants

add some of the "spicy dipping sauce", a squeeze of lime and a bit of LCCDS

and now I have a Spicy Mayo LLCCDS Cocktail

This dipping sauce was still pretty much not at all what I wanted, which at least meant that I didn't finish all of my fries, so that I would only gain 4 pounds (according to my scale, yes) during this weekend in NY instead of even more!

I had been particularly excited for the desserts from this restaurant that I'd seen on the menu online:

Sorbeto + Seasonal Fresh Fruit - $5.50
     pineapple mint, lime cilantro 

How was I even going to choose?!!

Turns out I didn't have to as neither of those was on the menu.  My choices were between raspberry sorbet, an apple compote and a fried banana, so I just got a stupid fried banana:

Fried banana with sesame seeds, honey and chocolate sauce

Sugary milky and boring was the chocolate sauce, and the rest tastes as it always does.  Since I'm an insane glutton and honey and sesame seeds are nice, I still ate about 3/4 of the stupid thing.  I was actually kind of proud of myself for not finishing it, despite the fact that that measure of success is insane and I was very uncomfortably full.  At least I had a thirty or so minute walk to the Rubin Museum to burn a few calories...

Because this restaurant's web site and menu aren't designed well, I didn't bother really pre-planning my choices, but now that I've read the menu and tried some things, I have decided what I would order if I were for some reason to ever go to this restaurant again:

For a starter/salad: Kuta Spring Mix Salad - 5.95
Tomato, Mandarin Orange, Walnut Pomegranate Vinaigrette
and/or an order of the Korean Kalbi - 5.75
     Short Ribs, Asian Pear Barbeque Sauce, Sesame Oil

From Noodles & Rice section:Spicy Duck Udon - 13.95
Yu-Choy, Crispy Tofu, Grape Tomato & Crispy Taro , Light Rendang Coconut Broth

And the fries were good, so I'd try ordering the "spicy aioli" that comes with the "Jimbaran Crab Cakes," which are probably also decent.  

I picked up a paper menu from this place, but it's completely out of date, and the restaurant's menu that's less out of date still lists a few things (like those desserts) that they don't actually have, so if this restaurant wants to stay in business, I think they ought to get with the times and update these situations.

I will end this on one positive note.  These people were very friendly and handled the Grouponing better than anyone else ever has.  Not only did they act gracious about it, I'd spent exactly $40, and my bill was for only the $3.66 tax, and then of course I tipped 20% on the original amount.  This is how it should work.

Burger Rating: 5/10
Fries Rating: 7/10

For an awesome Asian fusion restaurant with a kick ass burger and a wonderful dipping sauce, go here.

Kuta Satay House on Urbanspoon

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