The Spice Table – Dine LA While You Can!

17 Jul


The Spice Table, one of my favorite restaurants, is doing DineLA! And unlike a lot of places in recent years, they are offering a heck of a deal on a great meal.

Pictured above is the Kaya toast, Bryant Ng’s wonderful take on the perfect egg. He boils the eggs in an immersion circulator until they are at the perfect level of jigglyness, then mixes that tableside with soy sauce and white pepper. It’s served with a simple white bread toast with coconut jam. You dip the bread in the egg mixture for an incredible blend of sweetness, saltiness, and egginess.

Bryant’s deal is four course for $35. If I did my math right, the four courses would normally be $45. It’s up to you if you want to save the $10 and get this great meal. Otherwise, you could not get any savings, and order the unbelievable beef rendang. Or his surprisingly awesome cheeseburger, the perfect ode to In ‘n’ Out, with the Indonesian twist of putting sambal on it. Or the crab noodles.

Anyways, back to the deal. For a second course, you get to choose between the grilled beef salad or the raw yellowtail. The beef salad is slices of hangar steak served on watercress with onion and slightly pickled cucumbers. It’s garnished with Bryant’s housemade shrimp chips (which he used to serve at lunch! Gah!). The salad is pretty simple, but well dressed with a vinaigrette.

The raw yellowtail is an excellent dish. Thin slices of yellowtail sashimi made interesting with fried shallots, scallions, black sesame seeds, and beautiful roasted chiles. There are a lot of potentially strong flavors that could have overwhelmed the yellowtail, but the flavors blend well and accent the fish.

The duck rice is a great encapsulation of who Bryant is as a chef. The basic duck is an elevated take on a Chinese staple – ground meat in sauce served on top of white rice. But by using duck, Bryant adds an interesting note of gaminess. But then that is moderated by mixing in mushrooms to bring out the earthiness, and of course it is served on rice. If that had been the dish, it would have been a great shoutout to Chinese home cooking. But Bryant added a couple simple things to bring out the flavors: adding chopped fresh basil to top and the same sliced chiles from the yellowtail dish. Together, these elements bring out a perfect balance of flavors, while still evoking the kind of cooking many Asians grew up with.

The kon loh mee was also surprisingly good. The base it was looks like instant ramen noodles (they’re not), served with some Chinese veg and a few slices of pork belly. There is a smear of chile sauce to bring a touch of heat. This is the kind of food I could eat every lunch IF THEY WERE STILL OPEN FOR LUNCH!

The DineLA menu concludes with Bryant’s classic dessert, kaffir lime custard with lychee cream on top. This is another sign dude has serious chops. The custard and cream are just perfect in consistency, with little flecks of lime zest and pulp inside. The dessert is just sweet enough but plenty tart. Just excellent.

Here’s the rundown.

And because I’m a huge fat guy, I also got Bryant’s classic cereal prawns. I asked him once which cereal he uses, but I’ve forgotten now. Captain Crunch, maybe? In any case, he does it for reals — head on, with tons of crunchy cereal goodness.

And my last tip: the Spice Table has a well-curated wine and beer list (hope you like Craftsman!), and a sweet deal for flights. For $15 you get a flight of either 3 beers or 3 wines. You can pick, or do what we did and let them pair it with your food. Probably the best pairing was the Prosecco di Conegliano from Venice with the Kaya toast. It didn’t go as well with the food, but the 2011 Brooks pinot noir was a really good value wine. The flights were an especially good deal because the pours were, frankly, huge.

Every time I eat at the Spice Table I try to savor it. The meals are fantastic, but I know this incarnation of Bryant Ng’s dream is not long for this world. You look around at the restaurant and you think what a waste to have poured so much love into a place only to have Metro come and knock it all down.

LA, you’re on notice. You have eight months before the Spice Table closes for good at this location. I’m sure Bryant will find another location, but it may not be the same. He may have investors this next time that will be more interested in making money than letting a talented chef do his thing. I don’t know. I’m just hoping he brings back the best sandwich in LA.

The Spice Table
114 S. Central Avenue, Los Angeles 90012

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