In a city full of all-day cafes, Interstellar is a statistical anomaly. Not only is the food downright phenomenal, this small Korean-ish fusion spot steps from the Third Street Promenade has the elegance of a sculpture gallery. The dining room is wrapped in concrete walls, mirrored pendant lights, and a cascading row of hanging plants that could pass for an art installation. Even more impressive is the menu—it’s bolder, braver, and more ambitious than most cafes within walking distance of the Promenade, pulling off dishes from many different cuisines during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No matter when you come, this one-of-a-kind Santa Monica spot will leave you wondering how so much great food can come out of a place that’s the size of a studio apartment.
Interstellar works for a morning mocha latte, but we prefer to drop by in the evening when the restaurant becomes a quieter, semi-casual dinner destination with tasty shochu cocktails. If the double-sided menu was a Venn diagram, its various entrees would land within interlocking circles of Korean, Italian, Japanese, and American food—each one attractively plated and large enough to share. You’ll get everything from marinated, tender galbi to a lobster roll that tastes like it just rolled down a water slide lined with fish sauce, and the full experience is well worth the price. It's sexy, it’s unfazed, it’s exciting—and even if the last activity you did that could qualify as any of those adjectives was trying a new show on Netflix, Interstellar will make you feel like you are all of those things, too.
If you’ve ever wondered what Vietnamese fish sauce would taste like on a lobster roll, first off, let’s be friends. Secondly, order this. The nuoc mam gives the chunks of lobster meat a briny sweetness, and the brioche roll is buttered and grilled ever so slightly. Order this lobster roll at lunch or dinner and pair it with a side of parmesan-dusted truffle fries.
Chicken Katsu Curry
Interstellar's combination of gravy-like Japanese curry and beautifully-fried katsu is hard to beat. The golden-brown panko-crusted chicken cutlet stays unbelievably crispy even after its been smothered in sauce.
There are a lot of competing flavors in this haystack of linguine. But like a rap battle or a jousting match, this competition is entertaining. The mentaiko tastes like spicy uni, there’s some creamy parmesan in the mix, and the shredded nori and shiso on top ties everything together.
Well-marinated and slightly sweet, the mound of tender galbi in this warm rice bowl makes it one of the more filling dishes at Interstellar. It arrives covered, or more accurately smothered, in melted mozzarella, grilled onions, and scallions. If we were going to start a codependent relationship with a bowl of meat, it would be this one.
Black Truffle Kimchi Fried Rice
This is, by far, the spiciest thing on the menu——the heat is immediate but also grows over time. It also happens to be one of the best. The shaved truffles and fried egg on top help tame the spice and the combination of flavors in the rice comes at you from all directions. We’d recommend sharing it, or having it all for yourself if you like to live dangerously.
Getting excited about a perfectly cooked and crispy branzino might seem odd until you try this dish. The seared fish is paired with a rich, risotto-style ochazuke, which smells like a blend of seaweed and green tea. Finished with a drizzle of soy sauce, this might be the best dish at Interstellar.