I’ve never had Indonesian food before, actually I’m not sure if I’ve ever really thought about Indonesian food before. However, when I got the chance to check out Simpang Asia who specializes in the cuisine, I thought this was the perfect time. I’d get to experience a different type of food in an authentic restaurant, what could be better? When the day finally came for the dinner, I was excited! I had my loose pants on and got to the restaurant a little early because I couldn’t wait to dive in. Before I sat down to eat, I calmed myself down and took a look over the restaurant. Simpang Asia sits in a small plaza and is directly connected to a mini market. On the side of the market is a lounge area, groceries, and a coffee bar. On the restaurant side you’ll find a seating area and a few art pieces along the wall.
After checking the place out, I sat down and waited for my foodie friend Mallory of Couch Potato Cook to arrive. A few minutes later and we were sitting at a table with the waitress ready to take our order. Only problem was I had no idea what to get. The waitress looked at me as she politely asked:
“What would you like to order?”
I didn’t know. My mouth was open, but nothing was coming out except air.
“Miss?” She nugged.
Time froze for a second. If I said burgers I would have sounded like an idiot, but I love burgers so I was stumped. I turned to Mallory and let her go first. I think she thought I was being polite, which I was, but I really needed a few more seconds to dissect the menu. Unfortunately, she knew exactly what she wanted and ordered faster than I could blink. So I just did the old-school method: closed my eyes, opened them, and the first thing I saw is what I got.
For starters, I went with the Otak Otak ($5.99 for 4 pieces). The appetizer was banana leaves wrapped around grilled coconut fish paste with a side of peanut sauce. When the waitress brought it to the table I thought it looked like a bit of a challenge. The fish paste was sealed shut in the banana leaves and they didn’t come with instructions. I wasn’t sure if there was an etiquette to eating them, but my gut instinct was to rip them apart—so I did. A staple may have flung across the table, but nothing stops me from eating. Inside of the leaves was a golden tube that once dipped in the peanut sauce was delicious! The appetizer is good alone, but the sauce makes it taste even better!
To drink, I got something that I have to get whenever I see it on a menu: a whole coconut. At Simpang Asia, it’s called Es Kelapa Muda ($3.99). It was light and sweet. Only problem, I drank it to fast. A second coconut may be necessary.
For my entree, I went with the Nasi Kuning ($9.75). The plate is packed! It comes with tumeric coconut yellow rice with chicken sate in a peanut sauce, beef rendang curry, chili relish egg, Indonesian fried noodles, shredded egg caramelized potato tempeh crisps, and peanuts. It was a lot, and I was unsure of where to start. With little direction, I grabbed my fork and took down the yellow rice tower. It was so flavorful on its own, but when I mixed it with the beef rendang it became a delicious duet of spice and taste. The chicken satay was tender and went nicely with the peanut sauce. Another suggestion: take some of the chicken, dip it in the sauce, and then dip it in the rice. Your eyes will roll in the back of your head! I didn’t much to like in the tempeh crisps–that doesn’t mean they were bad. It just means that I didn’t find much to savor about them. But that was fine, I had more rice and even a chili egg to enjoy! I liked that the dish gave me many Indonesian originals because it set the bar for my first traditional Indonesian dinner!
Once I finished my entree, the waitress came back with a dessert menu. She was crazy to think I could eat any more, but she was right, somehow I would eat more. Crazy right. I got the Es Teler ($3.99). It was shaved ice topped with young coconut, jackfruit, and avocado. I thought it was going to be pretty small which would be easy to eat, but I was so wrong. It was so dense and full of fruit that it could be a meal if you were only moderately hungry. I did my best to eat it, honestly but I couldn’t finish it all. It was sweet, the fruit varied in textures, and it wasn’t overwhelmed with ice. Plus, since I was getting so many fruits in one dish it had to be good for me!
And don’t think that was all I took pictures of! Mallory was considerate enough to let me take some photos of her food and drink before she picked up her fork. Of course, she’s a foodie so she understands, but I wouldn’t have blamed her if she put a stop to my camera because she wanted to eat. Thanks, Mallory!
What was really nice was the waitress let me take some shots of food a few employees ordered. The way she knew that I’m obsessed with taking food pictures and enabled that made me so happy!
Simpang Asia had a big task in front of themselves: to make me like Indonesian food. Prior to them I had no frame of reference for the food, but they did a great job at introducing me to it. With this dinner in the back of my mind, I’m ready to explore more until I fall in love with them. By “them” I mean the food, not the restaurant. Who am I kidding, I’m going to fall in love with Simpang Asia too!
Address: 10433 National Blvd #2, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Phone: (310) 815-9075
Hours: Monday through Friday – 11:00am to 10:00pm and Saturday and Sunday 10:00am to 10:00pm
Social: Website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Food tastes great
- Great staff
- Parking can be limited depending on the time of day