y4pcT1JaIwGptQJPO6l_mZmgv34 tiffin unboxed: The Spice Table Still Going Strong

The Spice Table Still Going Strong

The Spice Table, in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo, offers a unique Southeast Asian experience in a cozy, stylish, unique setting with birdcages and dim lighting.

I was intrigued about experiencing Chef Bryant Ng's Singaporean and his wife Kim's, Vietnamese food knowledge and walking into this gorgeous brick building, getting a whiff of their specialty satay grilling on the wood burning hearth. Chef Ng, former Chef de Cuisine at Pizzeria Mozza, definitely knows his way cooking in a wood burning fire.

The Spice Table Apr11
Spice Table - exterior
I'd heard the warnings and read blog posts about how spicy the food was and that didn't really turn me off. My tolerance for heat ranks high and I often add chili to dishes when available.

So upon dining there last summer, a couple of months after its opening, I had mixed feelings. Some dishes wowed me and others had a bit too much heat to fully enjoy, because it overtook the more subtle flavors of the food.

Spice Table Dec11_d dining room
Spice Table - dining room
I vowed not to come back, yet eventually craved some of the dishes and wanted to try more of the Indonesian and Malaysian dishes that are harder to find elsewhere.

A friend and I met there for dinner and much to our delight, they have toned down the spice level on several of the dishes, making them much more palatable. The fact that they responded to feedback also says a lot and not surprisingly, they are still packed. We grabbed seats at the bar, that and outside being the only available spots.

Spice Table Dec11_e fried cauliflower with fish sauce
fried cauliflower with fish sauce
The fried cauliflower with fish sauce, simple as it sounds, was my favorite dish the first time and it did not disappoint on second tasting. These whole florets come light and crispy on the outside and steaming yet somewhat firm on the inside.

It reminded me a bit of Japanese tempura, but more of Indian style vege pakoras which are veges battered in a spicy chick pea flour batter and fried. And adding to that my favorite condiment of Thai chilies in fish sauce, it's a no brainer.

The server also accommodated us very well. My friend has an allergy to fish and he crossed out every dish on the men containing fish. The cauliflower dish came with a Thai veggie sauce for her. Just as a note, he mentioned that for those with shellfish allergies, it would be hard to find enough food on their menu not containing it.

Spice Table Dec11_f grill
wood fired grill with our order of marrow bones
As many of my friends and perhaps a few readers know, I love marrow. Part of the desire to come back to Spice Table was after reading food critic Jonathan Gold's 10 Best Dishes of 2011, which included their Grilled Bone Marrow.

One look at photographer Anne Fishbein's mouth-watering photos and it was on.

Spice Table Dec11_g griled bone marrow with prawn sambal
grilled marrow bone with prawn sambal
Watching the marrow bones grilling induced much anticipation. The grilled marrow bones are smeared with prawn sambal paste (fermented shrimp with ground chillies), then grilled to a crunchy shell.

At first we tried the marrow and sambal on it's own with the French baguette bread. The prawn slightly funky flavor seemed to overtake the milder marrow flavor.

However, when combined with the other condiments of red pickled onions, rau ram leaves and sea salt, it all melded beautifully and melted on the tongue.

Spice Table Dec11_i lamb belly satay cumin turmeric galangal
lamb belly satay
Another encore dish and must-try was this lamb belly satay, marinated with galangal, turmeric and cumin and served with the traditional peanut sauce. Surprisingly, the heat level stayed quite low on this dish, which did not need much seasoning to stand out.

The lamb melted in the mouth like meat cotton candy! The cut is more on the fatty side which makes it incredibly rich and juicy.

Spice Table Dec11_c plants
planters on the counter
This post contains almost as many shots of the decor as the food, because they both work together to create that exotic yet comforting experience. The succulent planters scattered throughout always caught my eye.

Spice Table Dec11_h kaya toast
kaya toast

We mellowed things out with a milder, although also rich, dish of Kaya toast. If you haven't tried this comfort food dish, also known as a hangover cure in Singapore and Malaysia, I recommend it highly.

Kaya is a spread of creamy pandan scented coconut jam on buttered toast with a side of a slow cooked runny egg, soy sauce and white pepper for dipping. It doesn't sound like it would work, but it does.

This version contained a tiny, thin swipe of coconut jam, barely discernible from the butter. I would have preferred more or at least have more on the side. Although it's a solid effort, it doesn't quite reach the heights of the kaya toast at Susan Feniger's Street, which you can see by clicking on the link.

Spice Table Dec11_j black pepper crab toast crab tomalley oyster sauce butter

We tried a couple of other dishes but the only other one I would like to highlight here as a "must try" is the Black pepper crab toast.

Served with insanely large house made toast points comes the most delectable stew of luscious crab meat, cracked black pepper, crab tomalley (the innards, mushy parts), oyster sauce and butter, garnished with fresh herbs and slice of lime.

The result was simply a party in the mouth. I love shrimp toast, but this takes that genre to a new level. Perfect ratio to the sweet crab meat and levels of chili and funk of the tomalley, nicely mellowed out with the toast.

Spice Table Dec11_b interior
It was definitely worth coming back for another try.

Even with so many new dishes I wanted to try, such as their version of the classic Malaysian delicacy of beef randang, I'd be hard pressed to not re-order some of these classics upon future visits.

The Spice Table on Urbanspoon

4 Responses to “The Spice Table Still Going Strong”:

  1. WineGrrl, If you try or have tried this place out, please do share your favorite dishes. Thanks for reading!

  2. Looks delicious! This is a beautiful blog!


  3. Thank you so much for checking it out, Diana! Let's get your's started too.

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