What happens when you gather six chefs all under one roof? You end up with an upscale food court, like the one at Strang Hall, in downtown Overland Park. The idea for this chef collective came from a desire to add a new twist to the dining scene. This collection of restaurants allows the locals a chance of skipping the chains and trying something unique. Located in the Edison District, it brings new dining options to the mixed-use development just west of Metcalf Avenue.
A Chef Collective
The name hearkens back to railroad magnate, William Strang, who laid out the original city of Overland Park. His 600 acres of property were located south of Kansas City, back in 1905. Nearby, you will find an assortment of shops and restaurants along Santa Fe Drive. We have had the pleasure of exploring the area during their monthly Third Friday Local Life events. Of course, from now on we will have more dining options during our nights out in downtown Overland Park. The large open space of Strang Hall is very inviting and we noticed the crowds fill it quickly.
Midwestern dwellers are very familiar with fried chicken for dinner. I can still remember my mom cooking up platters of this crispy entree for the whole family. While the base of this dish remains the same, the choice of spices can dramatically alter the end product. This is exactly what they have done at Basabasa. The name comes from a mythical bird that was mentioned in Japanese mythology. It had chicken-like features but would spout flames of ghost-fire.
A New Twist on Fried Chicken
We decided to make a meal of a variety of dishes that we picked from the various restaurants inside Strang Hall. Our first choice was Karaage, which is made with chicken thighs soaked in a sake marinade. The name is derived from a Japanese cooking method like tempura, except for the added step of marinating. These bone-free bites are served with a Miso Mayo dipping sauce, which accented the flavor perfectly. You can imagine the concern that arose from five pieces having to be split between two people, but we ended up negotiating a peaceful solution. By skipping the chains, we were able to sample a new twist on fried chicken.
Keeping with the small bites scheme, our next stop was at Nida. This Spanish based restaurant offers a variety of tacos and shareable items. Once we had decided on our order, we paid for our dish. It should be noted that none of the restaurants accept cash. All transactions are done by card. Another unique feature at Strang Hall is the notification process. After you pay for your meal they will ask for a phone number. This will be used to text you that your food is ready. Once you are notified, you head up and grab it. Pretty simple and effective process.
When we first started scoping out the menu at Nida, we considered sampling a couple of flavors of tacos. While we discussed the choices, another customer arrived to pick up their order of Cast Iron Cheese. This gooey dish is made with melted cheeses that stretch to unbelievable lengths. The addition of caramelized leeks adds a smooth oniony flavor and the chili oil gives it just a bit of bite. A couple of flour tortillas make useful hand tools to scoop out the delectable mixture.
We realized that we had not accounted for vegetables in our choices, so we needed one more dish. Since we had already chosen our table, we decided to grab something from the restaurant nearest our location. This happened to be Anousone, which serves up Southeast Asian cuisine. After speaking with the owner, we found out that the business happens to be named in honor of his late brother. We were certain that any dish we chose would certainly have us skipping the chains.
Fried Brussel Sprouts
Once again, our choice came from the visual presence of another customer’s meal. Once we spotted a tempting dish of the Fried Brussels Sprouts, we knew it needed to be sampled. It is obvious what the base of this plate is created from, but it’s the addition of unique flavors that make it special. After frying up the cut heads, they toss them in a sweet chili herb sauce that bursts with flavor. This ended up being our favorite, although the other two dishes were close behind.
Skipping the Chains
With our first foray into Strang Hall complete, we knew that return visits were a certainty. After all, there were still more restaurants to sample, as well as coffee and cocktails. With so many unique choices, we would have no problem skipping the chains. The chef collective format seems to be a style that is gaining ground, and we expect more of these upscale food courts to open soon. While you are waiting for one in your area, why not make a trip to downtown Overland Park to check out Strang Hall.
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