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

Forget the 18-hour plane ride to Southeast Asia, and instead drive downtown to Central Avenue in Los Angeles.  Step off the street of Little Tokyo and straight into what might be a back-alley store front in Saigon.   

Above the din of the crowd, ubiquitous lighted bird cages dangle from the ceiling, casting a sexy glow over the wood tables, and more than 100 year-old aged brick walls. 
Loft like ceilings and silver ducts remind us that we’re in modern day L.A., but Vietnamese Kim and her Singaporean Chef-husband Bryant Ng have nailed the ambiance in this deservedly trendy downtown venue.   
Bryant cut his chops at Pizzeria Mozza, and Kim knew that if they were going to save their marriage, they better open a labor of love together; and that they certainly did.
Conveniently located off several freeways, and tangent to a validated parking lot for parking ease, this gem is right in the heart of the hip and happening Little Tokyo scene.  Although you could park and walk into almost any restaurant with great results, this one stands out because of it is a southeastern flair for both exotic food choices and spices that will send your mouth into an eating orgasm.

We recommend asking your waiter to “just bring a variety of food” to the table.  You’ll avoid squirming over western awkwardness to things like “pig’s tail” and “bone marrow” if you just don’t know what they’re serving, and you’ll most likely surprise your taste buds with the results.   
Although the preparations are a bit salty for the Dining Duo’s cleaner tastes, it was worth the bloat the next day to sample their creations.
We started with their famous Kaya Toast ($7.00), and we highly recommend that you do as well.  It’s served almost like a grilled cheese sandwich, but it’s actually coconut jam on toast, and then a 45-minute soft-boiled egg is provided, along with white pepper and soy sauce for dipping purposes.  It’s divine; don’t miss every finger-licking bite of it.
Scott particularly enjoyed the Lamb Belly ($10), with cumin and turmeric, which was served satay style on a stick.  The lamb was tender and the taste was off the charts fabulous. We cannot speak highly enough about the grilled brussel sprouts ($9). Scott wouldn’t even eat one until a few years ago and even now he has to be pushed.  If we ate nothing else here, it would be these morsel bites of crunchy yum. 
We could make a meal out of three orders of brussel sprouts (with bacon and dried shrimp), which are not overly spiced but prepared, to perfection.

Be daring and try the Pig’s Tail with a selection of lettuce and a enormous herb concoctions ($13), it is something you’ll be talking about with your foodie friends for days to come.  It was a bit fatty for our tastes, reminding us of “baboy” we ate in the Philippines, but we really need to revisit it again.  Try the creamed kale ($10), which comes complete with paneer (fresh cheese of Indian origin) and grilled pork belly; scrumptious.
 On a very minor basis compared to our great meal, we thought the “per glass” wine selection could have been broader and we also had mixed emotions about the Spiced Cognac dessert. 
Michael found it unusual and satiating after the spiced items we ate; it was bursting with different flavors.  Scott thought the sweet dessert fell short, just missing it.  That said, The Dining Duo has loved traveling extensively throughout Asia and Southeast Asia, and we found the desserts from those countries to be odd flavors for the American palette.  Maybe we just need to broaden our perspectives when it comes to dessert, but lets face it, there’s nothing like chocolate.
Putting those minor points aside, we woke up the next day wishing we lived closer to The Spice Table so we could go back the very next night for another fantastic meal; now that’s a great restaurant!

Posted by The Dining Duo | 6:02 PM | , , , | 1 comments »

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  1. Lyn Middlehurst // January 30, 2012 at 10:17 AM  

    No, sorry, you DO need to travel 18 hours to SE Asia!! The real thing is not too salty and they certainly don't serve desserts like that. Get on a plane, guys!!!

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