Simpang Asia sits in a tiny complex on National Boulevard near Motor Avenue. Although the area is better known as an alternative to traffic on the 10W than a dining hot spot, it has received more attention thanks to recent notable additions such as Roy Choi's brick-and-mortar restaurant Chego.
In stark contrast to its rough-and-tumble exterior, Simpang Asia's design is surprisingly sleek with a warm color palette and modern wall decals. The restaurant would fit right in with restaurants in downtown LA.
Our table began with an order of lumpia semarang ($2.95), an Indonesian eggroll filled with chicken, shrimp and vegetables. Although I enjoyed the crunch of the lumpia and the sweet dipping sauce, the rolls themselves were disappointing; I could taste neither the chicken nor the shrimp and had to refer to the menu to remind myself of what was supposed to be in them.
We also ordered the pansit goreng ($3.00), or fried wontons. With their low filling-to-wonton ratio and the unpleasant acidic kick of the meat, these fried bites were more disappointing than our first appetizer.
For our entree, my friend and I both ordered the gule kambing ($7.50), a lamb curry made with shallots, garlic cloves, lemongrass and coconut milk. Although the curry's flavor was pleasant, it was surprisingly mild considering its flavorful ingredients. While I am unfamiliar with the dish, I would have enjoyed stronger hints of either lemongrass or coconut milk in the curry.
J ordered the nasi besek ($8.99), a tasting plate including yellow fried chicken, curry pickles, egg curry, spiced potatoes, mild curried long beans with beef liver, fried rice noodles, shredded spiced coconut and hot chili mix. J enjoyed sampling many different flavors on one plate, and I happily stole a few bites of the fried chicken and noodles.
Although our dinner at Simpang Asia was enjoyable enough, I was not sufficiently impressed to rush back. I'm interested to hear your thoughts on this one: Did I order the wrong dishes? Did we go to the wrong place? Or am I just unfamiliar with the cuisine?
10433 National Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 9034