Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Spice Table (Little Tokyo), Fire Ahead.

One mission had always been in the back of my mind, resurfacing when the opportunity arises: Find a good bowl laksa in LA. The bowl I use as standard is that of Katong Laksa in Singapore. Sadly, memories of that taste is slowly diminishing ... Even if it isn't quite Katong, I think I've finally found a worthy bowl at the newly opened The Spice Table in Little Tokyo.

The Laksa ($12) at The Spice Table is filled with shrimp, fish cakes, and mussels (to substitute for the usual cockles in S'pore, perhaps?), and thick udon-like noodles. The coconut curry broth is rich and thick, and they don't mess around with the spiciness.

Laksa at Spice Table
If it isn't spicy enough for you (it was plenty spicy for us), a side of sambal is provided.

While the laksa was the main reason for my going to The Spice Table, they have plenty more to offer in the classy space, dimly lit by lightbulbs inside birdcages.
The Spice Table
For those without reservations (or waiting for your party members to arrive), food and drinks are available at the bar, where you can watch the wood-and-charcoal-fired grill in action.

Rugbord Rye Beer The wines were expensive, but the beers on tap were reasonable. I like how they have 4oz pours of their draft beers for $1.75-2.50. I get to try more and *feel* like I'm drinking less. While waiting for e*starLA I had the Orchard White Belgian Witbier from The Bruery ($2) then proceeded to Rugbrod Dark Rye Ale, also from The Bruery (also $2).
There's only one bottled beer here and it's not surprising that it's the Singaporean Tiger Beer.

While I was expecting the peanut dipping sauce with the sinful Lamb Belly Satay ($10) to be sweet, my mouth was immediately on fire.
Lamb Belly Satay

Same with the Black Pepper Crab Toast ($17). The creamy and sweet lumps of crab were tossed in a thick black pepper sauce that provided more than just a "bite". Thank goodness we had beer to wash it down.
Black Pepper Crab Toast
It may seem small, but it turned out to be quite a bit of crab meat to spread over that thick toast.

One of the specials that night was squid stuffed with sticky rice, chinese sausage, and black mushrooms ($12) - the least spicy dish we had and also the most unique flavor profile.
Sticky rice stuffed Squid
It reminded me of the stuffed squid at Lukshon, but the taste is completely different. This one is focused on the sweetness of the sticky rice which goes along with the chewy squid. We liked the char, the earthy mushrooms, and the vinegar that brought them together.

The Kon loh mee (egg noodles, choy sum, ground pork, char siu -$12) tasted similar to Chinese dry noodles, but was absolutely addictive. We might have been stuffed, but I could not let a single bite go to waste. The dollop of chili paste on top seemed intimidating but after everything else we had, it was relatively tame.
After all the spicy dishes, you'd be glad to know you can have a refreshing dessert. There are only two choices but we were happy with the tart and light Kaffir lime custard, lychee ($5).
Kaffir Lime Custard

I wasn't sure what to expect from chef Bryant Ng at first. Sure he's of Singaporean descent, but his training wasn't exactly in Asian cuisine (his last sting was as a chef at Mozza). Turns out I didn't need to worry. There's more variety here than other Singaporean places, he's not cheapening the dishes by stuffing the laksa with tofu and fishballs like some other place, and he's not playing around or taming the flavors either. Southeast Asian food in LA, and especially Singaporean, is still few and far between and still has a long way to go compared to other cuisines, but The Spice Table is a definite sign of progress.

The Spice Table
114 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 620-1840
The Spice Table on Urbanspoon



Looks great! Definite upgrade from Cuba Central!


oooh i so excited to check this out. haven't had kon loh meen in forever. wonder how the otak tastes


That looks super yummy. I have never tried laksa. Gotta get to this Spice Table place.


Really craving noodles now!

Kung Food Panda

looks good. I like my food spicy!

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