i'm not sure how or why, but we keep stumbling upon awesome new restaurants completely unplanned. as with b.s. taqueria, i was simply looking for an available table one night after work. simbal came up as a really interesting option especially since i've been missing/craving southeast asian food since we came back from bali.
the restaurant is a bit hard to find, but right inside the main plaza in little tokyo. the open kitchen is the centerpiece and we were able to sit at the counter surrounding it.
the food did not disappoint. in fact, i was blown away. the flavors were from all over asia and i can't say there was a highlight of the evening, each dish was unique and flavorful and just that good. i apologize now, because i'm going to sound like a broke record for the rest of this post as i talk about how good each dish was.
the tofu and tuna was very light and refreshing in comparison to the rest of our meal. the beef tartare with larb seasoning was really amazing - i've never had such a flavorful or spicy beef tartare before, and the fluffy and fried sesame bread was great.
the pork belly was fall-apart tender and savory with perfectly soft-boiled egg. the mussels came in the most amazingly complex sweet and spicy juices and half a freshly deep-fried chinese donut. the bone marrow was also topped with chili jam (if i could buy this stuff in a jar, i would do it in a heartbeat) and came with another half of a chinese donut for spreading.
after the bone marrow we were so full that we only had a few bites of the last couple dishes, but even then they were so good, i kept trying to eat way past my bursting point. these might be some of the best sweetbreads i've ever had. they're just a tad heavy with the fish sauce glaze, but the pickled mustard greens cut through it perfectly. we took the leftovers and stir-fried it with the leftover seasoned rice the next day and it was great. really, really great.
i can't wait to go back! there is so much more on the menu that i want to try..
319 E 2nd St Suite 202, Los Angeles, CA 90012