This week Besha Rodell gives her take on Simbal, chef and owner Shawn Pham's "modern American fine dining meets casual Asian street food" concept tucked away in a hidden corner of Little Tokyo. The review is full of promise, with the LA Weekly critic touting a few "gorgeous little bites of food:"
The broiled black cod, which comes with a whisper of turmeric and a forest of dill, is delicate and melting and sweet. Fresh tofu with hunks of raw tuna bathes in a tangy ponzu sauce, the silky consistency of the tofu playing against the somewhat firmer but still slippery fish, punctuated by pops of sesame seeds and the crunch of scallions. [LAW]
Unfortunately, there seems to be more misses than hits, with a slew of dishes that leave the critic "confused, wondering why Pham held back:"
Caramel braised wild rice with congee also needed something to perk it up, some sort of herbal or textural remedy to enhance the congee, sweet caramel sauce and tasty shrimp. Remember the first time you tried congee and you thought it might be a bland puddle of rice slop, only to be delighted by its savory, meaty, ginger-laden reality? This one is a little more like your original concern. [LAW]
After knocking the servers without proper understanding of the wine list, B. Rod gives the restaurant two stars.