319 E. 2nd Street, Suite 202
Los Angeles, cA 90012
Fri, 10/09/2015, 7:00pm reservation
Being Chinese, Asian is probably my cuisine of preference. I grew up eating Chinese food (and I'm not talking about the fast food kung pao chicken from Panda Express). My mom would sometimes spend hours just making one of her stews for us to eat for the following day. So, when I heard that there was a new restaurant that incorporated Vietnamese and Thai flavors with a hint of Chinese, I couldn't pass up on the opportunity to check it out!
Simbal is nestled in Little Tokyo featuring Southeast Asian cuisine. Chef Shawn Pham, who worked at Sona, The French Laundry and the Bazaar by Jose Andres, crafts simple Asian cooking with a piece of his heritage into his dishes. The flavors are unique, bold and pleasurable to the palate. Dim Sum carts roam around the restaurant for a few snack-able items before and during your dining experience.
The restaurant is industrial with a modern and contemporary feel. The bar is elegant but the main delight is the open kitchen with counter top seating. You can see everyone working hard, including Chef Pham. The manager Ron Carey is welcoming and is hustling to make sure everything is in order. And the food...delicious.
|DIM SUM: SPRING ROLL : Chinese sausage, jicama, egg. It's a spring roll manipulated! Chinese sausage? Egg? Jicama? Yup. It was good and the sauce was sweet. Definitely a nice deviation from the usual Vietnamese spring roll.
|BROILED BLACK COD ($15.00): Turmeric, caramelized shallots, roasted peanuts, fresh dill. This was good. The cod was flaky but it wasn't one of my favorite dishes.
|SEASONED RICE ($9.00): Chili jam, salted duck egg yolk, bonito powder, crispy garlic. The rice was definitely different and not your usual fried rice. Get the lime and mix it in. It'll take it to a whole another level.
|THE DIM SUM CART!!!
|A closer look at the short rib pie!
Overall, the food was pretty darn good for Asian fusion. I appreciate that Chef Pham stayed with his roots, but incorporated other flavors from Southeast Asia. The service was exceptional and made my dining experience that much more enjoyable. The only downfall is that the restaurant is hidden and could easily be missed. At the time of my visit, they were working on getting their liquor license, so many of the cocktails could have been modified. Would I come back? Uh...yes!