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Simbal, an Innovative Southeast Asian Restaurant Nestled Into Little Tokyo

Top Cheftestant Shawn Pham returns to LA after a stint in Vietnam.

Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

Simbal is a brand new Southeast Asian restaurant opening in the heart of Little Tokyo next Tuesday, with a fresh modern-industrial vibe and thoughtful cooking from chef Shawn Pham. With Spice Table's departure, this minimalist design interior is a stark contrast from now demolished restaurant's more rustic environs, but the ambitions are along the same lines, with flavors and ingredients spanning Vietnam with elements from Japan and China.

Shawn Pham, who's cooked in everything from Michelin-starred places to food stalls in Ho Chi Minh City, returns home to Los Angeles doing everything from chili jam mussels with tamarind and fried Chinese donut, to a redolent banh mi panzanella salad. The creativity extends to a fried black century egg with thinly sliced pork and basil, so expect to find plenty of familiar ingredients but presented in innovative ways.

Barman Brandyn Tepper, who helmed the stick at Century City's hinoki & the bird, creates an appropriate cocktail list infusing plenty of Southeast Asian flavors, plus fortified wines, craft beers, and fermented spirits. One sample is an umeboshi flavored vermouth mixed into a Negroni.

109 seats line the concrete interior designed by Studio Unltd, with a swell sunroom that bathes the space in natural light. There's also 14 stools at the chef's counter, so diners can peer into the kitchen's inner workings. Hours run Tuesday to Thursday, 6 p.m. to 10:30, and until 11 on the weekends. Closed Sunday and Monday.

319 E. 2nd Street
Suite 202
(Entrance on San Pedro)
Los Angeles, CA 90012