Friday, February 27, 2009

Simpang Asia: Gotta Get Gado

(Adjoining Grocery Store)

Southeast Asian food makes me happy and, because I like being happy, I headed out to grab Indonesian food with Theresa last night. A nine minute drive later (google map didn’t lie), we plopped our hungry asses down on the IKEA-esque plastic chairs in Simpang Asia.

Most of the traditional, “Nasi ” dishes contained some form of meat so I opted for the Gado Gado salad ($6.50) while the carnivore of the table ordered the nasi bungkus ($7.50).

(Nasi Bungkus: a carnivore's banana leaf goodie-bag)

Like in all Asian-run places, it didn’t take long for the food to be brought to our table. Theresa opened up the giant folded banana leaf to find a steaming mound of rice surrounded by portions of chicken curry, beef rending, egg, vegetable curry, among other things. Just the smell alone convinced me that it would be good stuff. I took a bite of yellow-curry-sauce-soaked rice which confirmed my belief. I love the sweet fragrant coconut milk undertones of Southeast Asian curries!

(Gado Gado: drizzled with the nectar of the Gods)

I then focused my attention on my own dish. The gado gado is, essentially, a plate
of spinach, long beans, sprouts and other veggies, combined with tofu and a sliced boiled egg, drizzled with a sweet peanut sauce and topped with crunchy shrimp crackers. Mmmmm indeed. The peanut sauce is nothing short of amazing. Smooth and flavorful – a drizzle of that could convert the most mundane of foodstuffs into a mound of deliciousness. The other ingredients in themselves were fairly bland (especially the tofu which was almost inedible on its own) but I soaked everything into the sauce and I lapped it all up happily. Halfway into the dish though, I encountered some strange white cubes in the salad. I took a bite and couldn’t figure it out at all – it was virtually tasteless. I consulted the menu and found out that they were “potato cubes.” Weird. I guess I’m just used to potatoes with, you know, taste. But then again, it wasn’t a problem that a little bit of peanut sauce couldn’t solve! I washed the salad down with a can of honeydew melon “boba” drink from the grocery fridge ($0.89). I say “boba” because, while the can showed the big pearls of black tapioca floating in the drink, what really was in the can was small white chewy bits. Oh well, I never was a fan of boba pearls anyways and plus, the drink itself was really good.

After the meal, we perused the adjoining grocery store for Asian snacks. They have everything from canned jackfruit to Japanese chocolates. I love it! I grabbed a box of ikan asin/dried salted fish ($5.00) which proved to be the perfect drinking food. Being disgustingly unhealthy, we polished off the whole box later in the night after a few drinks. Helloooooo skyrocketing sodium levels.

(Ikan Asin: the most delicious way to bring on high blood pressure)

I also got a dadar gulung ($1.50) from the sweets counter at the cashier – I was sold when the cashier explained that it was a pancake roll stuffed with COCONUT (i.e. the magic word) and brown sugar. I ate it this morning and it wasn’t very good at all. Disappointingly unsweet. Too bad.
(Dadar gulung: forgot the sugar?)

All in all, Simpang Asia is a great spot to eat. Service is quick and friendly and the food is comfortingly satisfying though not perfect. It’s cheap and clean and it’s packed with regulars (it gets more crowded as it gets later). Yep, I sure do loves me some Southeast Asian food.

FOOD: 4/5


10433 National Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 815-9075

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