The Spice Table opens in downtown's Little Tokyo
Inspired by Singaporean and Vietnamese cuisine, the Spice Table has opened in Little Tokyo, serving a focused menu of specialties such as catfish claypot and Hainanese chicken rice in an intimate dining room with high ceilings, exposed brick and bird cage chandeliers. (If you saw the space's former incarnation as Cuba Central, you might be wowed by the transformation.)
All wines -- from a charming list that spans an Edna Valley Albarino to Napa Cabernet, with an Erbaluce di Caluso and Becky Wasserman et Fils Pinot Noir in between -- are served both by the glass and bottle. Beers include Port Brewing Co.'s Wipeout IPA and West Coast Brewing's Le Merle Saison (beers are served in 4-, 12- and 16-ounce pours).
Chef-owner Bryant Ng, a former Mozza chef de cuisine, is settling into the kitchen, which features a wood-burning hearth for grilling satay and vegetables and otah (mackerel, spices and coconut milk formed into a paste then steamed and grilled in banana leaf). Laksa (spicy noodle soup) and kon loh mee (egg noodles with ground pork, shrimp and char siu roast pork) are among the noodle and rice dishes.
"Snacks" include sambal fried potatoes, headcheese with housemade pickles, and spicy chicken livers with toast. Ralph Waxman, also a Mozza veteran, might stop by your table to suggest the Leitz Rheingau Riesling with the curry fried chicken wings.
Desserts are palm sugar soft serve ice cream and kaffir lime custard. Why not get both?
114 S. Central Ave., Los Angeles; (213) 620-1840; www.thespicetable.com.
-- Betty Hallock
Photo: Exposed brick accents the Spice Table. Credit: Betty Hallock / Los Angeles Times