February 07, 2012

The Spice Table

Despite working in Little Tokyo all last year minus the months abroad, my first visit to the Spice Table was just a couple of days ago.  The restaurant was bustling on a Friday night, but kevinEats and I were promptly seated.  For a very thorough review of our meal, click here.  For a cursory and basic glimpse of our gluttonous meal, read on.

Most of the items on Chef Bryant Ng's menu are served in a tapas-like fashion, making it great for sharing and trying many different things (my fave!).  So even after a great not-unhappy hour at Spitz, I continued my gluttonous eating and drinking without hesitation.  What?  I shared!  (I really do believe I commit gluttony on the daily, but I'm planning to change that very soon).

We started with two 4-oz glasses of a traditional Belgian wheat beer (Allagash White Ale) and a Belgian-style Saison beer (La Merle Saison).  Both were an excellent start to an excellent meal.

La Merle Saison [left] & Allagash White [right]

 For our choice under Vegetables, we opted for the Fried Cauliflower, not only because it has been recommended by many friends and fellow food-enthusiasts, but because I like cauliflower and God knows I love anything fried!  The hype is justified.  Dunk those popper in fish sauce and enjoy.

Fried Cauliflower w/ fish sauce

Satays, originated in Indonesia, are skewered meats, typically served with a sauce.  They are grilled or barbecued over a wood or charcoal fire and seasoned with a variety of spices.  That's exactly what the Spice Table provided (a la wood fire).  Juicy and tasty!

Lamb Belly, seasoned with cumin, galangal, tumeric

I'm not a huge fan of bone marrow, but I've had a few times in my lifetime (Church & State, Animal).  Chef Ng's version is unique in that it is roasted in a wood fire and topped with a spicy shrimp sambal that compliments the lightness of the accompanying pickled onions nicely.

Grilled Bone Marrow with prawn sambal 

The Kaya Toast involves interactive eating.  Dip, soak, eat.

Kaya Toast (coconut jam on buttered toast, slow cooked egg, soy sauce, white pepper)

Combine the soy sauce with the slow cooked egg, then dip the buttered toast into this bowl.

Easy as 1-2-3.

During the middle of our meal, Chef Ng surprised us with a dish that doesn't appear on the menu -- pig's tail.  I've never had this before so a part of me was hesitant, but the other (fat kid) part of me was both enthralled and excited.  The meat was crispy on the outside and tender on the outside.  When wrapped in lettuce with a mint leaf and a generous drizzle of fish sauce, it was near perfection.  My response was equally enthusiastic when Chef Ng himself stopped by the table for a quick visit.  Whatwhat?  Happyhappy.

Pig's tail with fish sauce and lettuce/ herbs

You can spread the crab mixture onto a piece of toast or wrap it in a piece of lettuce.  Both options are equally delicious, though next time, I'll remember to add a little lime juice.

Black pepper crab toast (black pepper, crab tomalley, oyster sauce, butter)

Though I've never been to Indonesia, Singapore, or any of the South East Asian countries actually, I know beef randang is an Indonesian classic.  It includes pieces of meat, slow cooked in coconut milk and numerous spices.  In some ways, it reminds me of curry, but as if the curry part was infused into the meat.  With rice, roasted peanuts, and sauce, this dish was delightful.

Beef Rendang (short rib curry served with rice, sambal, kaffir lime)

Always leave room for dessert:

Kaffir lime custard with lychee cream

Spiced cognac ice cream

"Milk & Cookies" (warm ginger & palm sugar panna cotta, spiced coconut sugar cookies)

The Spice Table does a mighty fine job of bringing in the interesting flavors of Southeast Asia in an area bursting with sushi and ramen shops.  If you're in the mood for something different, but delicious, this is your place.

View Larger Map

cuisine: Indonesian, Singaporean, Vietnamese
location: Little Tokyo (Downtown LA)
websites: { ST | yelp }
attire: Casual
parking: nearby lots (usually $5) or metered street parking
notes: Reservations are not required for lunch, but call ahead for dinner.