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Restaurant Review: Sama Sama Kitchen
updated: Feb 22, 2014, 12:00 PM

By Lauren Bray

Sama Sama Kitchen
1208 State Street
Avg Price: $9 for small plates, most entrée's listed as market price.

Inspired by Indonesian cuisine and sourcing from local farms, Sama Sama Kitchen took up residence at 1208 State Street last March in the same location of the former East sushi restaurant. There has been a lot of buzz about this place so I was excited to finally check it out. The restaurant was packed and the bar was full so we opted to sit at the "sushi bar." There was no sushi in sight but the communal seating was fun and laid back. Posted around the restaurant were chalkboards with special menu items and lists of local farms and markets being used that night.

We ordered a few drinks from the bar, an Old Fashioned and their signature cocktail Sama Sama. Both were made from bourbon and while they weren't horrible, both tasted a bit watered down. The Old Fashioned (pictured below on the left) was made with bourbon, muddled orange, angostura bitters, and palm syrup. The Sama Sama cocktail (pictured below on the right) was made with bourbon, jasmine sweet tea, lemon.

Our waitress suggested we order several small plates for a tapas-style meal. We chose the jidori chicken wings, potato perkedel, Sama Sama Nasi Goreng, and the Salmon Creek Pork Tacos.

Above are the Jidori Chicken Wings with "ayam kecap," which is a sweet soy tamarind glaze. The chicken was cooked well but I found it to be too sweet for my liking. The glaze was heavily coated over the wings and detracted from the overall flavor.

Potato Perkedel: potato fritters, spicy bacon jam, micro greens salad. These were really good and reminded me of a thicker and healthier latke. The bacon jam was a nice addition.

Sama Sama Nasi Goreng: fried rice, veggies of the day, organic sunny side up egg, shrimp crackers. This dish was my absolute favorite. The spices and veggies topped off with an egg came together perfectly. A must order!

Salmon Creek Pork Tacos: roasted pork shoulder, peanut cabbage slaw, sambal tomat (an Indonesian spicy tomato sauce), cilantro [not pictured]. These smaller tacos were a last minute order when we decided that we weren't quite full and needed a little something extra. Pork by itself is pretty salty but it tasted like the chef added more salt to the other ingredients causing this dish to be almost inedible.

There are a lot of great things about Sama Sama. The atmosphere, unique dishes, ever-changing menu, support of local farms and markets, and great customer service. With that said, I gave Sama Sama 2.5 eds out of 3 because I feel the kitchen and bar need to hone their flavor levels and be a bit more consistent. With the cocktails being watered down, the chicken too sweet, and the pork tacos too salty, I had to grade them down a little bit. However, it was a crazy Friday night rush, I'll give Sama Sama the benefit of the doubt and will gladly return again.

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Lauren is a member of the Dedicated Staff and will gladly be a judge in any fried rice competition.


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