Food Network Chef Loo Santos brings new “Street” twist menu to Reading Cinemas

Chef Santos Loo adds the finishing touches to the “Street Tacos” dish at the Reading Cinemas Valley Plaza new menu tasting event.

Lizette Chavez, Editor-in-Chief

Reading Cinemas Valley Plaza implemented a new food menu tasting on Nov. 16. The new menu which includes hamburgers, chicken club sandwiches, street-style fries and street tacos was created by Food Network Chef Santos Loo.

Loo said, “[Reading Cinemas Valley Plaza] has the only IMAX theater in town, it’s huge, we want to match that on a culinary level.”

Loo who has worked with other theaters across the country in creating similar food programs said he decided on a more Latin-based inspiration for some of his dishes because of the theater’s demographic. One of the dishes was the street tacos, the plate consisted of three tacos on small corn tortillas, each with different meats like chorizo, carnitas and adobo chicken all topped with onion-cilantro garnish. The dish runs for $8 and will be available for $6 on Tuesdays.

Classic American dishes were not discounted with the theater now offering cheese, pepperoni or bacon pizza, classic hot dogs and gourmet pretzels stuffed with jalapeno cheese or caramel all available for under $8.

The regular combos of popcorn and drinks will still be available but new combos were added, as well, like a kid’s combo meal where instead of popcorn children have the options of choosing between chicken tenders, quesadillas and fries, cheese pizza or a classic hot dog, with a drink and a cookie.

Loo said the tasting preview was a good way to better asses what movie goers would like to ensure that he and his cooks could alter dishes or add new ones or even remove some.

“Except for the signature burger, that is staying … a lot of people have said they like it and we like it and it seems popular,” Loo said laughing while he grilled some burger patties.

Other plates that seemed popular were the green bean fries, street fries and the loaded nachos. One movie goer, Susie Muralles, 20, who was attending the Justice League movie premier opted for loaded nachos because she felt that it added a new twist on classic nachos.

Muaralles said, “I ordered loaded nachos, because I thought they added a kick to regular nachos and I didn’t want the popcorn. The taquitos looked good, too.”

Muralles shared that because she lives in Lamont she does not really go to the movies often but seemingly taken by surprise with the new menu, Muralles said she would probably come back to the theater and try a new dish.

Something that Loo hopes will help people try new dishes is to spread the word to the community, and the best way he believes is through word of mouth by the people who come and taste the dishes.

“Word of mouth, social media, this move is pretty popular especially with young folk, they appreciate new things.”

Some people that appreciated the new menu were Bakersfield College students David Hughes, Daniel Ruiz, Mario Saldana and Joshua Daigle, who were working in the kitchen with Chef Loo.  Hughes, 19, said he was caught slightly off guard when he came in expecting a normal day of work and found himself in the kitchen instead.

“I had no idea, it was like whoa. It was unexpected, I just came to work and …,” Hughes said while working on a chicken sandwich before he gestured to his co-workers Ruiz, who was taking out some green bean fries and Saldana who was setting down finished dishes for Daigle to deliver to guests. “It’s pretty cool.”

The Reading Cinemas Valley Plaza new menu officially became a part of the theater on Nov.17