Have Shark, Will Travel: Streets BK

03/24/2015 9:51 AM |
Photo by Jane Bruce

Streets BK
53 Broadway, Williamsburg


We’ve always been wary of restaurants purporting to be all things to all people, and thus, have long avoided Chinese eateries selling french fries and Greek spots serving spaghetti. But in more recent years, the steady blurring of culinary borders and ensuing decriminalization of the term “fusion” has caused us to drop our guard just a tad, so that we no longer recoil at the thought of matzoh ball ramen, or tacos stuffed with Korean bulgogi.

For the most part, the de facto stance of today’s “New American” restaurant is to seamlessly interweave global accents into dishes: think Colonie’s beets with wakame, or Battersby’s famous Thai-inspired kale salad. It’s this elegant restraint that makes Streets BK—and its “passport to culinary adventure” concept—seem so unapologetically and unambiguously in your face, positioning Sicilian arancini alongside Cuban sandwiches, and offering Lebanese fattoush
as well as Malaysian roti canai. Frankly, it has disaster written all over it, making it easy to dismiss Streets BK as a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none. And besides, is anyone’s palate really prepared to migrate from Asia, with Hong Kong head-on prawns; to Jamaica, by way of jerk pork; to Argentina, represented by chimichurri-slathered churrasco y papas, during the course of a single meal?

It’s really up to you if you’d rather go for broke and globetrot, from lobster rolls to peri peri chicken wings to vegan udon, or stay the course with, say, a Mexican repast of cotija-dusted street corn and adobo chicharonnes. Because the truth is (and the restaurant maintains a roster of consulting chefs from around the world to help assure this fact), that most everything we tried at Streets BK was equally and surprisingly good. Especially West Indian options like the Bake ‘n’ Shark sandwich: fluffy pillows of bread cradling filets of spiny shark (also known as dogfish, which, intriguingly, tasted like a cross between fried oyster and soft shell crab), capped with sweet slaw and sliced tomatoes and delivered with a trio of sauces—mango chutney, tamarind, and an herbaceous shadon bennie.

Granted, the bamboo/hammered tin/sisal rope-strewn space and its calypso/gamelan/salsa soundtrack reads very Sandals resort, although not in an entirely unwelcome way. In fact, it’s kind of nice to tilt your eyes away from the uninspired sprawl of South Williamsburg, and lose yourself to clementine mojitos and rubber tree plants, to the point that an offer of honey-drenched coconut cheesecake “spanikopita” for dessert actually sounds enticing. It’s here that Streets BK jumps the shark, although not in a great way like that sandwich which—while certainly not worth traveling to the far reaches of the globe for—more than merits a quick jaunt to Williamsburg.