Two years ago, rapper/actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges partnered with Chris Yeo, famed chef and veteran of Asian cuisine, to open Straits restaurant in Atlanta. Yeo’s restaurants are centered throughout California, and Ludacris seemed like the perfect liaison to reach the Southeast. Straits is located on Juniper Street in Midtown, where an enormous billboard displaying Ludacris’ face mirrors the restaurant from the parking lot next door.
The restaurant has a modern, swanky vibe and doesn’t match the general perception of Ludacris’ “dirty South” roots. This is about as far from hip-hop as you can get. Ornate designs and rich textures mix with romantic reds and edgy blacks, a perfect spot for a first date. Our server promptly greeted my guest and me, and guided us through the menu. Straits specializes in Singaporean food, a colorful mixture of Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Nyonya cuisine.
We ordered a small plate of crispy calamari served with a side of kaffir lime aioli and galanga cocktail sauce. Galangal is similar to ginger root, but has its own distinct taste, and is very popular in Southeast Asian cooking. No stranger to calamari, I was surprised at how delicious the dish was. My guest and I couldn’t figure out if the seasonings were just that good, or if we were just that hungry.
The menu was full of options from soup and salads, to elaborate entrees. Choose from spicy basil chicken, lemongrass beef, fresh herb salads, and lobster tail dishes. Prices range from $8-$40, but there are plenty of great choices on the less expensive end. No Asian restaurant would be complete without a broad selection of rice and noodle dishes, and Straits has a tempting selection.
I finally decided on the Sumatra Ayam, a wonderful curry dish with a spicy yet not overpowering flavor. My guest ordered a shrimp and rice dish, and the huge prawns were delightful.
Things were going smoothly until my dinner guest noticed something in her food. At first this looked like a piece of hair, but upon further investigation we realized it was something hard and metallic. After flagging down our server, we were told the mystery object was a piece of the cleaning utensil for the wok. My friend was immediately given a new plate, but we were shocked that she could have choked on something.
Despite my guest’s unpleasant encounter with a foreign object in her dish, overall we had a great experience. The food was amazing, and I have to applaud Ludacris for providing Atlanta with something so tastefully stylish.
For more information on Straits click here.