Spice Table — Singaporean / Vietnamese / Malaysian Comfort Food in Downtown L.A.

// Visited: 1.14.12 //

I got my first speeding ticket, ever, on the way to Spice Table.

I wasn’t even running late, or even close to late. But there I was — the freeways were miraculously empty, I was belting out either an indie pop song or a Tibetan chanting song (my musical interests are simultaneously diverse and stereotypically so L.A.), and I was probably applying some glittery eyeliner or mascara. As in — completely not paying attention to freeway speed traps.

Mid-chant/mid-wail, I suddenly noticed the old-school police cruiser lights behind me.

AARRGGHHH.

More than 10 years of driving, and this was my first (and hopefully only) speeding ticket.

At least I was able to soothe my indignation at the terrible unfairness of life with hot tea and updated Southeast Asian comfort food at downtown L.A. hot spot Spice Table.

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Spice Table -- Menu 1

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Spice Table -- Menu 2

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We started with the Pate & Baguette. I liked the pate but could have used a more substantial baguette.

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Pate & Baguette

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We all fought over the Kaya Toast. I couldn’t wrap my head around the menu description (“coconut jam on buttered toast, slow cooked egg, soy sauce, white pepper” — ?!), but it ended up being wonderful. We dipped firm-crumbed, slightly sweet, buttery toast in a savory, rich sauce based on egg and soy sauce. The sauce was so addictive that we kept it after we finished the toast and dipped other dishes in it. One of my friends hoarded it like a miser hoards gold. Yes, it was that good.

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Prepping the sauce for the Kaya Toast...

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Kaya Toast with sauce

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The fried Sambal Potatoes were excellent — crunchy and savory, with wonderfully mealy insides — but a tad oversalted.

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Sambal Potatoes

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The rest of the dinner was uneven. The grilled bok choy was gorgeously plated and dramatically huge — and so stringy that it was difficult to eat.

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Grilled Bok Choy

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The lamb satay was a fine rendition of the classic.

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Lamb Satay

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The fried cauliflower was tasty but could have used a lighter batter.

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Fried Cauliflower

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Spice Table’s rendition of Singaporean classic Hainanese chicken rice was acceptable, and about as memorable as the Crab Toast.

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Hainanese Chicken Rice

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Crab Toast

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We had all eagerly awaited the laksa (rice noodles, laksa leaf, spicy coconut-seafood gravy), and it was indeed a vibrant dish — creamy and spicy, with pleasantly slippery noodles and far too much salt.

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Laksa

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Finally, the slightly-tart Kaffir Lime Custard was a pleasant way to end our meal.

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Kaffir Lime Custard

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What did I learn that night? Always order the fried potato dish on any menu. The craziest-sounding thing on the menu (this time, it was the Kaya Toast) might just be the best thing you’ll put in your mouth in a long time. And finally — tell the cop your sob story about how your boyfriend just dumped you or your ant farm just died before the cop takes your license and writes up your ticket.

The Spice Table
114 Central
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 620-1840
http://www.thespicetable.com/

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