The Top Ten Best New Restaurants: No. 5, January 2012
The tamarind-rubbed pork belly bánh mì Bryant Ng offers at lunch is modeled on the slaw-laden No. 19 pastrami sandwich at Langer's; he essentially takes French colonial influences reformulated in Southeast Asia, refracts them through a MacArthur Park deli, and serves them in Little Tokyo. Duh. Before opening the Spice Table in a onetime brothel where birdcage chandeliers light the brick walls, the Boulud-trained L.A. native worked at Campanile and was the opening chef at Pizzeria Mozza. Ng does a legit version of laksa, a blazing hot Singaporean seafood stew with rice noodles and strands of fish cake. He also knows his way around almond wood embers, bringing out notes of lemongrass and galangal in the tasty satays and smokiness in the bok choy finished with oyster sauce. A special of Niman Ranch pig's tail—braised to softness before being caramelized over a fire and served with lettuce cups, a platter of mint stems, and fish sauce—is a seamless dish of stunning integrity.