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Apr 20, 2007 05:28 PM

simpang asia

Just discovered this place in west LA when going to Hu's . I think its going to be one of my regular haunts like Sabor a Mexico, a place where you want to try everything on the menu. Today I had the #8, nasi bungkus (7$) as recommended by the guy working there for my first time eating Indonesian. Rice with chicken curry, beef rendang, balinese egg, spiced potato, and light vegetable curry wrapped in a banana leaf. Very tasty and flavorful and exotic. The guy who works there is very friendly and helpful and informative. It's cheap, its funky, its exotic, its different, and its tasty- my favorite qualities in a restaurant.

Also took home some tasty snacks from their market- kering tempeh=spicy peanuts, tempeh, chili, and anchovies. And also some sweet fried banana rolls- a more interesting combination than the usual chocolate and chips.

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  1. Too bad it's so far from OC, or else I'd try it this minute. Nasi Bungkus is one of my all time favorites.

    Right now, I'm loving the Nasi Bungkus at Toko Rame. So far (other than the ones I've had in Indonesia itself), it is my benchmark.

    Here's a pic of it:

    1. Glad you liked it. Simpang gets a lot of love on this board, especially for us benighted westsiders for whom it's one of the few sources of Asian groceries. Check out this thread

      for a list of things to try. Today was rainy and cold but when it's warmer again, be sure to try the Es Alpokat avocado smoothie, an addictive green spin on your basic milkshake. We also drop in from time to time to buy cartons of yummy Thai-style coconut, durian and taro ice creams from the freezer compartment.

      1. It's a habit of ours about once every one or two weeks. You've summed this place up perfectly in your short summary. The menu selection from their cafe is enough to keep us coming back regularly and the different types of instant noodles are great to have around when you're in a pinch for a quick lunch - just add leftover chicken or seafood and some veggies.

        PayOrPlay - you'd make Eddie Lin of Deep End Dining tear up with pride - durian ice cream is something I won't touch - it might as well be toe-jam gelato for me. I can just tolerate the heady aroma when eating it "fresh" but beyond that - my hat's off to you. And I hope Eddie isn't reading this post - don' want to give him any new ideas for gelato flavors - yeah right - like he hasn't thought about it already!

        2 Replies
        1. re: bulavinaka

          Honestly, durian ice cream is very mild--all the stink goes away. It's actually a good way for people to try durian without dealing with its legendary odiferousness.

          We like the taro and the coconut better, though. The taro ice cream makes a great milkshake, too.

          BTW, Simpang has a nice website for their restaurant
          (not the groceries, however):

          1. re: PayOrPlay

            Okay - I know it's a ploy to get me yacking after I spoon a mouthfull of durian ice cream... ;-)

            I seem to always overlook the fact that so many of these small eateries may and do have websites - good ones at that... I needed to close out Simpang's - the pictures are making me hungry and I don't think they are open... thanks!

        2. After seeing this post yesterday, I went to Simpang Asia today for lunch for the first time. I too, had the #8, nasi bungkus, and it was delicious. I will definitely go back and try the other items on their menu.

          p.s. I stopped by pretty early (11am) and there was only one table open. Is that how it usually is?

          5 Replies
          1. re: gomagoma

            We usually go during the week around 6-7PM. It's crowded then as well - supper crowd. But we've been during slack times on the weekends - say 3-4PM and it's not crowded at all. The dishes come relatively fast even when it's crowded so I wouldn't let it stop you from going. PayOrPlay posted their website as well - you can actually order from it!

            Work your way down the menu - unless an ingredient that you have personal reservations about is listed in it - and I think you'll be quite satisfied with just about all of their offerings. Their avocado shakes are quite sublime as well...

            1. re: bulavinaka

              Personally, I LOVE durian. I had to work at it a bit, though. The Chinese friend told me it is known as the king of fruits in Asia, so the first time I tried it I was like "Ehhhh"- kind of neutral about it. The second time, I was like "not bad!" The third time I was like "pretty good!" the fourth time, I was like "I love it!" The thing is, when buying whole durians they can vary in taste due to ripeness and, I guess, the contrariness of nature. It's hard (for me) to know how to pick a good/ripe one. A chinese lady told me the frozen whole ones (which are much cheaper) are actually better tasting than the fresh ones for some reason. I think this delicacy is something worth working at appreciating, as once you do there is nothing like it and its actually pretty healthy, too- high in beta carotene and good for the kidneys in chinese medicine.

              Also, its great fun at parties- I had a roomful of Hasidic women in the throes of laughter as I introduced them to one and opened it up (with running joke commentary) at a dinner once.

              1. re: Iateitup

                The first few times I ate it Singapore. I wanted to like it and forced myself to do so because I didn't want to shame my guests. The flavor and texture was rich, and reminded me of what a vanilla custard would taste like if it were in fused with onion juice, while someone dabbed some kind of heady animal scent below my nose at the same time. I continued to eat it with a polite smile in Malaysia only at relatives' or guests' prodding but I just can't get beyond the headiness of the aroma. One of my wife's uncles has a property in Malacca that is studded with various fruit trees including durian trees. He had picked a few for our arrival. I was devistated - not another round of fighting back the gag reflex! I should have just started to politely decline after a while - I must have built a perceived reputation as the Durian Conqueror.

                The number of varieties of durian are supposed to rival apples. I don't know which are the best and everyone seems to have their own technique for picking the their favorite durians. The Chinese lady may be right - my father-in-law feels otherwise about the frozen ones - I think there's some old school ethnocentric pride working his mind in that there's no way Asia would send anything but the leftovers to us... I have no idea either way.

                I bet at the time you offered this up at your dinner, you could claim with great confidence that you were the only person in the world at that moment bestowing the king of fruits to a group of Hasidic women...

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  Thats true! : ) Well, sounds like you gave it your best shot, anyway, which is all anyone can ask. The variety in North America that's most common is Monthang (sp?)- haven't really tasted other varieties yet, unfortunately, so don't know how the flavors compare.

                  1. re: Iateitup

                    I think you're the relative my wife's family always wanted... you all could fight over the last slippery durian pod with great enthusiasm...

                    Another durian-related story. When my wife and I were in Kuala Lumpur getting wedding portraits taken (it's a big deal over in Asia) the photographer's assistant just came back from taking a break. She had eaten fresh durian while she was away - we knew this to be the case because as she motioned her fingers directly in front of our faces, a strong pungent odor was released in front of our faces. The photographer looked up from under his camera's blind and asked us what was wrong. Evidently, we didn't even notice that our faces had turned sour after smelling the scent of durian on the assistant's hands! This is why durians are not allowed on public transit, and even some cabbies won't allow it either!