319 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 2/13/16
Little Tokyo’s Simbal opened in April and it’s been on my radar ever since. Reviews have been a little mixed so far, but it was time to give the restaurant a try. The food is described as a modern, refined take on southeast Asian with a variety of small plates all meant to be shared.
The restaurant is a lot larger than I expected, centered around an open kitchen surrounded by front-row seats at the counter. We lucked out and got a couple of seats in the middle of the action.
Fresh Meiji tofu, tuna, ponzu, sesame, scallions
Silky tofu was paired with tender diced tuna in an interesting combination. Cool acidity from ponzu brought some depth and balance.
Crispy sweetbreads, fish sauce glaze, pickled Chinese mustard greens
Sweetbreads were fried crispy, tender, with a sweet glaze. It really reminded me of a sort of refined version of orange chicken, which I really liked.
Broiled wild cod, turmeric, caramelized shallots, roasted peanuts, fresh dill
Moist cod with a crispy crust was complemented by caramelized onions and some bright herbs.
Marinated muscovy duck breast, sesame oil, ginger
The duck was on the rarer side of my preference, but had good flavor with subtle ginger and sesame notes.
Short rib pot pie, lemongrass, annatto, beef tendon
The pot pie was delicious with its tender chunks of beef, flaky crust, and fresh herb accompaniment. Rich and full of deep, savory flavors.
Sugared chinese doughnut, vietnamese coffee dip
Kind of an Asian version of the signature coffee and donuts at The French Laundry, this one featured sugared Chinese doughnuts paired with this bitter Vietnamese coffee dip.
I was pleasantly surprised by Simbal. The food was creative, refined and flavors really worked well. The cod and pot pie were two favorites on this visit, but I was also eyeing the heavenly beef and pork ribs. Next time.