There’s nothing like having a sandwich that offers a pleasant variety to the boring “toasted” or “foot-long” combo. Funny enough, the Spice Table in Little Tokyo is not only a couple of businesses down from a Quiznos, but also half a block away from the other sandwich franchise, Subway.  

Just off the corner of Central and 1st Street, the Spice Table takes over what used to be Brazilian café next to the Weiland Brewery. Formerly Chef de Cuisine at Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton’s Pizzeria Mozza, Chef Bryant Ng’s menu is inspired by the cultural diversity he and his wife, Kim, share. Chef Ng hails from Singapore, while his wife from Vietnam.

The space’s décor is modern, embodying the Downtown loft vibe with exposed brick walls, with cream, gray and mahogany accents. Pretty white daisies on the table and antique birdcage light fixtures adorn the ceiling, giving the Spice Table a comforting quaint feeling. As soon as you step up to order at the counter, there are huge bowls of fried sweet potato chips and shrimp chips to sample while you decide what to order.

What makes the Spice Table special is their ability to give you a hearty lunch just under $12 with variety. During the day, the Spice Table serves as a deli, with all the sandwiches delivering varying degrees of “spice.” The sandwiches are at their best when pickled and marinated vegetables provide layers of flavors that get more intense with each bite.

 All Southeast Asian in flavor profile, standouts include the Meatball, nestled between vinegary carrots, daikon and cucumber. The vegetables are paired with Chinese perilla (also known as shiso leaf), mint and peanuts for texture. The garlic mayo lathered on both sides of the toasted baguette is really delicious. Instead of the mayo oozing out of the sandwich, it melds into the doughy bread like butter. Every single bite of the sandwich stacks flavor. The Meatball is not for the faint of palates, but I was expecting a little more spark, especially since the restaurant is aptly named the Spice Table.  

An option that is short on heat but still ripe with flavor, the lemongrass, peanut sauce Chicken sandwich is not as spicy, and the pickled shallots provide a nice tang to the watercress and scallions. The vegetarian Curried Eggplant with pickled red onions and cilantro is mildly spicy and can easily be a favorite for meat eaters too, especially paired with the spicy-sweet potato chips.

You can choose sides to cool your palate, like the Napa cabbage Slaw or the butter/romaine combination, otherwise known as Gem Lettuce, paired with shrimp and sweet candied walnuts.  

While the lunch menu is short, spicy and sweet, the dinner menu is where the Spice Table expands on the Southeast options with gusto. I was delighted to see Sambal Fried Potatoes on the menu, as that’s something I make frequently at home. There’s something so comforting about a big bowl of perfect French fries with chili. I like to mix Sambal with ketchup and dip the fries in, and that’s exactly what I did here. Fries and satays, especially the prawns and chicken, can be ordered all together to make your own private happy hour!

The meat in the Oxtail & Short Rib Stew was almost like velvet. Having it with a side of jasmine rice was one of the most aromatic and rich plates on the Spice Table’s menu.  

The beers are worth a special mention because not only do they feature Singapore’s Tiger Beer but also California brews like the North Coast Brewery’s PranQster Belgian and the Wipeout IPA. You can try the brews in 4-ounce to 16-ounce pours, with none of the beers going over $9.  

On my next visit to the Spice Table, I’m gunning for the Southeast Asian Cheeseburger. A couple of weeks ago, a blog started it’s first Burger Week contest, resulting in many restaurants that do not serve burgers doing so in their own special way. Chef Ng’s version featured the aforementioned short rib ground up with steak and shrimp paste cooked in the Spice Table’s wood grill, with fried shallots and curried cucumbers. The burger ended up being a huge hit and is now featured on the dinner menu on Mondays. I plan on pairing it with the AleSmith Grand Cru from San Diego for what is sure to be yet an amazing dinner experience.     



For more information, call (213) 620-1840 or visit thespicetable.com.