Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Spice Table - Los Angeles

I'd been putting off reviewing The Spice Table in Los Angeles, not because both Jonathan Gold and S. Irene Virbila pretty much said everything in their gushing odes to Bryant Ng's Singaporean-flavored Little Tokyo restaurant; but because I still haven't made it up there for dinner, which I hear from Bonnie Jiang, Ng's chef de cuisine, is the real reason to go.

Also, there was the fact that I wanted to write something about Bonnie herself, who I went to college and am friends with (that's me in full disclosure mode) and whose food I ate and enjoyed before she ditched her technical background designing F-18 fighter jets, went to culinary school, worked at Lucques, and then finally landed this current gig.

I made my first and so far, only, visit last September and caught them in a lull between lunch and dinner. It was then that I ordered the turgid, insane-wich you see above. It is officially called a banh mi, but this thing seemed more grandiose than that. The bread is made in house, and it crunches down with a hearty crackle and supple crumb that became the base and delivery device for tons and tons (did I mention there was a lot?) of marinated and griddle seared (I think) pork belly. The picture I took does not do its enormity justice.

Then on came the slaw in tart, refreshing, snappy fistfuls. And for a final crowning touch? Crunchy golden hoops of fried shallots, a topping that plays directly to my Indonesian-food-loving heart (We Indos like to put fried shallots on top of nearly everything).

It cost me about $11, and it was so much food (and probably the biggest pork sandwich I've ever had put in front of me) that I could only eat about $5-worth in one sitting, leaving the rest to nibble on for the remainder of the afternoon.

So why am I writing about it now? Well, Bryant Ng just got nominated for The People's Best New Chef in Food & Wine Magazine with some heavy hitters like Michael Voltaggio and Corey Lee. And it seemed an appropriate time as any to mention them, even if I still have to make it up there for dinner.

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

Orea Taverna - Placentia


At 10:32 AM, Anonymous JB said...

Not surprisingly -- given our near-identical taste in food -- The Spice Table is also on my short list of must-go LA restaurants...and also for dinner.

But that "banh mi" [poor name] sandwich looks life-changing. Between french dips, fish tacos, the real banh mi, Lawry's prime rib, and gourmet concoctions like this, Southern California is becoming the hand-held nexus of the continent.

At 3:51 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


You hit it right on the head. I'm surprised not more press has been made of this sandwich. It's that good.


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