If you’ve never had Indonesian food before, Simpang Asia in Culver City is a great place to start. With a diverse yet approachable menu, this place needs to be added to your list of go-tos, especially when you’re in the mood for something ethnic…
The first thing I ordered at Simpang Asia was a watermelon smoothie. I feel like these days when you order a smoothie at a restaurant, you never know whether you’re going to get real fruit or a syrup. I’m happy to report that this watermelon smoothie was as fresh as it gets! When it came to the food, I was overwhelmed by how many gluten-free items were on the menu. A lot of the staple items in Southeast Asian cuisine are naturally gluten-free, but you never know where gluten could be hiding in sauces. Since there were so many things to choose from, I went a little crazy with the ordering.
As an appetizer, I ordered Lemper, a sweet, sticky rice roll stuffed with shredded coconut chicken. The flavors in this were unique to anything I had ever eaten before, and I loved it. Next came the Seafood Laksa. This dish typically has gluten-filled noodles in it, but the restaurant happily opted for rice noodles instead, making the dish gluten-free. The broth was extremely rich and delicious, and the many types of seafood made the dish very exciting.
Next was the #8, which is a huge amount of food stuffed in one big banana leaf. This comes rolled up and in parchment paper – when you’re ready to enjoy, you unwrap it like one big, beautiful present. Inside was a bed of fresh rice, coconut beef a.k.a. rendang, curried chicken drumsticks, egg, and vegetable curry. The flavors in this were to die for. The chicken was so unbelievably tender, and I tried to divvy up the egg as much as possible so I could have a little piece with each bite.
I also got a full order of the coconut beef rendang, because it was so delicious I needed more than what was in the banana leaf. This dish consists of hefty pieces of juicy beef with a thick and flavorful gravy-like sauce. I had so much of this left over I ate it for several meals afterwards and enjoyed it every time. Pro-tip: this stuff tastes surprisingly good with eggs.
Last was the sautéed spinach and Oxtail Soup. The spinach was super fresh. I don’t know what Simpang Asia did to this stuff, but it was the most delicious spinach I’ve ever had – a magical statement since sautéed spinach is usually pretty bland. The Oxtail Soup was incredible. You could tell a lot of work went into rendering that broth, but Simpang Asia’s labor of love really came through. Next time I’m sick I’d rather have a bowl of hot oxtail soup than chicken noodle.
Based on the amount of items we ordered, it would probably come as no surprise to you we were way too full to order dessert. I know even typing that sentence is basically sacrilege in my book, but we were seriously stuffed the gills and armed with leftovers for the not-so-near future.
I have always thought Indonesian food is severely underrated in general, but especially for gluten-free eaters! If there’s anything I concluded from my meal at Simpang Asia, it’s that the cuisine is super flavorful and intriguing, even without incorporating gluten into a lot of the dishes. Because you guys really need to try the food here, head to Simpang Asia and use the code ‘BACON10’ at check out in the restaurant or online to get 10% off your meal!