By Greg Smith, Staff Writer
Summer’s officially a distant memory as pumpkins show up on doorsteps with no warning. At Summer Canteen, however, known for its delectable and tantalizing Asian Fusion Cuisine – blending Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, and Burmese food for a taste like no other – it’s summer year round. And a new, exciting development recently happened right in time for Oktoberfest: Summer Canteen obtained its alcohol beverage license, and true to form, their beer selection is ace, just like everything else on the menu. Are you really that surprised?
A haven for NoHo creative types, I arrived at the attractive restaurant this past Saturday with a friend, Erin. Since she’d never been there, I was extra curious to see what her initial impressions would be.
She eyed the drink menu first off – I guess it’d been a long week – and marveled over the prices.
“Allagash White for $4!” she exclaimed. “Why have you been hiding this place?” I had no valid answer, but promised we would return.
We decided the night would be an appetizers and drinks excursion, a time to catch up on the week now behind us. From the looks of it, we weren’t the only ones: Surrounding tables of people appeared to be completely at ease, chatting with the familiarity of old chums.
Our radiant server Amy got us started with a sampler of the Draft Beers. There was Erin’s favorite, the Allagash White, a tasty Belgian beer from Portland, Maine. She said that other places charge at least double the price compared to Summer Canteen.
Out of the Draft Beers, the “most expensive” was Unibroue Blanche de Chambly from Quebec at $5 (so cheap), a sweeter alternative to the Allagash. The North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner from California, $4, had to be my favorite. Then there was the NAPA Smith IPA (Organic) from California, $4, a darker, stout blend.
After savoring the beer selection and weighing the night’s possibilities, we moved on to the appetizers. You truly cannot go wrong when it comes to ordering here.
We decided up first was Crispy Crab & Shrimp on Soy Paper, because one thing I can’t get enough of is seafood. The little patties had coriander root, water chestnut, and white wine in them as well. Dipped in sweet and/or sour sauce, what a unique pescetarian treat!
Next was the monthly special app, Thai Northeastern Sausage. Erin took one bite and said: “That’s so good, I can’t even handle it.” Complimented with ginger and chilies, the spiciness was a superb taste — not for the faint of heart – best washed down with the IPA.
The Leaf-Wrapped Savory Nibbles administered a satisfying crunch: made up of shrimp wrapped in spinach leaves and topped with ginger, peanuts, lemon skin, chilies, grated coconuts and minced shallots with tamarind caramel.
We were content as could be, but not overly full. After all, everything we ate was healthy. In the end, I felt selfish for hiding such a gem. Erin had this to say:
“The beer selection felt fresh and the food was light and healthy. Such a relaxed environment. Can’t wait to go back!”
I hope I’m invited. Summer Canteen is located at 4444 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood. For more information, visit www.summercanteen.com or call (818) 985-6611. Cheers!