Brandon Poon is no stranger to the risks and rewards of opening a new restaurant. His family opened Chinese restaurant Express 7 in Mountain View just before 2000. Two years ago, Poon branched out to open Buffalo on Castro Street, which I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing. Now both Express 7 and Buffalo have been rebranded to Srasa Kitchen (pronounced S’ross) to keep it all in the family business.

To avoid the lines at the Castro Street location, I went to the new Middlefield Road location and enjoyed a quick wait to the counter. By now, many diners are savvy to the build-your-own bowl concept (choose a starch, a meat, sides, and a sauce), making Srasa’s menu easy to navigate. The food is displayed in chafing dishes behind a tall glass wall and served by an employee at each station. There are set combinations available, but I like to take my chances no matter how mismatched. As it turns out, most ingredients go well with other items on the menu here with a mix of Asian and American offerings.

The customized lemongrass chicken bowl ($8.95) with brown rice, butternut squash, kale and cucumbers had American ingredients aside from the lemongrass. It was paired with tamarind sauce, which surprisingly went well together. The freshness of the vegetables and the sweet and sour tang of tamarind sauce brought the dish to life.

I couldn’t resist the intrigue of pork and chicken meatballs with Srasa green curry sauce in my bowl ($8.95). For a more Asian mix, I added bean sprouts and a scoop of pickled daikon and carrot, like the kind served in banh mi. Nothing but deliciousness, so no regrets. For the third bowl ($10.45), my starch was thick vermicelli, eight-hour roasted pork belly (extra $1.50), kimchi and the familiar flavor of Vietnamese nuoc mam (fish sauce)—and all the fixings. The pork belly and kimchi together was reminiscent of a Korean bowl. It’s hard to go wrong with any combination of ingredients.

I’m not often impressed by the build-your-own concept, as there are so many players, but I also won’t write off a restaurant for this reason. Srasa Kitchen is not to be missed. The ingredients are true to their influences from Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Vietnam. The menu is designed to be nearly foolproof for customization, the portion sizes are fair, the line is quick and it’s not hard to keep a bowl under $9 except when choosing add-ons like pork belly, short ribs or boiled egg. Most of the ingredients are healthy and delicious. If the Poon family brings back the sloppy coconut fries from Buffalo, everything will be just about perfect.

Srasa Kitchen
225 E. Middlefield Rd, Mountain View.