Summer Canteen: Chic Asian Fusion at the Edge of Toluca Lake
By Carolyn Scott
Who would think that in a strip mall that houses a Coffee Bean and a dry cleaners that you could step into a swanky New York loft style eatery. The polished metal décor accented with rich wood and natural lighting really lets diners know that they aren’t in a run-of-the-mill establishment.
Summer Canteen is a unique version of Asian Fusion, blending Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai and Burmese Cuisine. This allows the chef to get creative with flavors, textures and culinary styles. Each dish is well thought out and the presentation is always clean and artistic.
I was very impressed with the wide variety of meals available for special diet diners as that is important for many Southern Californians. While someone in your party may love seafood, there may be a vegan amongst you who is still able to enjoy a fabulous meal as well. The menu is innovative, fun and no one is excluded from experiencing a tasty meal.
I started with the Burmese Tea Leaf Salad. Fresh chopped greens topped with a variety of peanuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, tomato, fried garlic and their signature pickled tea leaves. The salad is tossed at your table with a bit of fresh lemon and chili peppers, which happen to be the ingredients that draws out all of the other flavors. Tangy, spicy and nutty yet light, this salad is unlike any other. It’s healthy, delicious and packed with flavor.
Next up were the Leaf Wrap-ped Savory Nibbles, yet another example of unique ingredients coming together for a flavor festival. Spinach leaves are piled high with grated coconut, minced shallots, ginger, peanut tamarind caramel and a sliver of lime. Shrimp is also an option. The hand held bites are a wonderful combination of sweet and savory; soft and crunchy. The nibbles are a perfect beginning to any meal as they are satisfying without being too filling.
Lastly, the beautiful Spicy Seafood plate. Cooked and served in a cast iron poaching pan, each well is filled with spoonable scallops, shrimp, sole, peppers, a special house sauce and rice. It smelled divine and seemed to be a great option as a shareable, tapas style dish so that you could continue to devour other Summer Canteen creations.
Run, don’t walk, to Summer Canteen, 4444 Lankershim Blvd. For more information, call (818) 985.6611 or visit www.summercanteen.com.