L.A.'s passion for great regional Asian cooking has taken it to the new landscape of today where chefs are honoring the cuisine, while taking their tributes to new places, mingling regions, countries, and cultures, remixing ingredients, maximizing flavors in oft-copied traditional dishes, and completely making it their own through measures of their backgrounds, training, and culinary visions. We have high hopes that Downtown's new Spice Table, soft-opening tonight from former Mozza chef de cuisine and Daniel vet Bryant Ng, could join this list, currently topped by spots like Lukshon, Red Medicine, WP24, and A-Frame. At the very least, the space and short Southeast Asian menu look completely killer. What will you eat here?
Ng's early menu (which is subject to change) starts with snacks like curry fried chicken wings, sambal fried spuds, pate with a baguette, and spicy chicken livers and toast, then veers into a selection of satays including lamb belly, pork, chicken, and chile prawns, along with six stand-out vegetable dishes like gem lettuce with herbs and pomelo and braised cabbage with bacon and dried shrimp.
Under seafood, there's a catfish claypot, black pepper crab toast, a coconut and banana leaf-grilled mackerel called otah, and raw yellowtail with sesame, chiles, and scallions. A stew made with oxtail and short rib stew and a dish of chicken curry are the only meat and poultry offers before Ng's menu's features the rice and noodle dishes like laksa, Hainanese chicken rice, and kon loh mee, with options for jasmine nor Hainanese rice. Desserts at this point are just two: A palm sugar soft-serve and a kaffir lime custrad with lychee. Save for the $17 crab toast, no dish goes over $15, with the first half of the menu mostly under ten dollars per item. Oh, and note, through giggles if you like, that changes and mods are "politely declined."
As for the beers, Ng's set up the drafts to include selections from Craftsman, North Coast, Abita, and The Bruery among others, along with Singaporean Tiger, of course, and also offers 4 ounce pours for $2 to get folks familiar with a new favorite. Wines equally balance Italian and Cali reds and crisp European and Cali whites, with an intriguing, inexpensive selections.
Craft beer and strong Southeast Asian cooking have proved a successful blend for L.A. diners in the past, so here's hoping history repeats here as well. Take a look at our slide show of The Spice Table.
The Spice Table, 114 S. Central Ave. Downtown.