Simpang Asia and a Crazy Night in Culver City

The carnage

A friend of mine asked me to get a group together for Indian food in Artesia but that date didn’t work out and he suggested perhaps sausages at Wurstkuche which I wouldn’t have minded except that place is not great for groups when it’s busy.

Once we settled on a date, this past Saturday, I chose to pick something entirely different based on the location. I had been invited to a birthday party in Culver City so I suggested Simpang Asia after reviewing a few constrictions:

1) close to downtown Culver City

2) “cheap” (under $30 for dinner)

3) still “ethnic” and more in line with our original reason for getting together

Now that we had a location, it was time to invite guests! I had to of course invite my noodles partner as she’s Indonesian and Carina, one of the UncouthGourmand girls joined us.

Four people should mean a couple of appetizers, some entrees and maybe dessert?

No, we ordered four appetizers, one soup (with noodles), two noodle dishes (so we really had 3 noodle dishes), fried rice and another rice dish wrapped up in banana leaves. Oh, and a veggie dish because we need our veggies!

spider

The Bakwan or “spider” were veggie fritters with a subtle sweet and sour sauce.

siomay bandung

The noodles partner ordered this dish of tofu, fish cake, cabbage and potato topped with a peanut sauce. I thought this was okay but I probably wouldn’t order this again.

balado tofu

Months ago, I had this delightful Indonesian pastry that came with a spicy sweet chili sauce. I loved that sauce! Unfortunately, Simpang’s version on this tofu wasn’t great. My friend said he thought it was more like sundried tomatoes than anything else.

pempek

This appetizer featured a deep-fried fish patty with noodles and sliced cucumber on top. I thought it tasted fine but my noodles partner insisted it was awful and no one should try it.

gado gado

A friend had recommended this spinach and tofu salad with peanut dressing. I liked this better than the siomay bandung which had the same peanut sauce. I found not all the chips very pleasing though and liked the light pink ones the best.

laksa

I was swayed by some reviews that this was a marvelous soup to try. Once tasting it, I realized it wasn’t very thick and though the shrimp were fresh, it wasn’t interesting over-all. The taste reminded me of Malaysia rather than Indonesia.The noodles were terriblely overcooked in this dish.

mie tek tek

By now, I realized the Indonesians love their chips and boiled eggs. Most of the dishes we ordered featured one or both. I liked this noodle dish better than the two soup ones but nothing amazing. I was starting to develop a fondness for the cucumbers though. The pickled nature was refreshing with the food.

ikan asin

This salted fish fried rice was good. I probably enjoyed it more than anyone else but felt it needed more of a crunch than the pickles could provide. Maybe just simple iceberg lettuce, more like the Chinese would do or even cabbage.

cah kangkang

I love me some veggies! These were good but the dish was small. I don’t know if everyone was filling up but I ended up eating most of it by myself.

But what I really, really wanted to order turned out to be the best dish of the night.

what is it?

What is this little bundle?

Bundle of

nasi bungkus!

joy!

The nasi bungkus featured rice wrapped up in a banana leaf with three different toppings including curry chicken, beef rendang and veggie curry. There were also bits of chicken gizzard and the now ubiquitous egg.

get in there!

After dinner, we hit up three bars!

First we went to Irish Times around the corner to digest our great affordable meal (only $22 each!).

It was pretty dead around 9 p.m. so about an hour later, we hopped over to Downtown Culver City.

We visited This Foodie’s Life‘s birthday party in full swing at Rush Street but the place was crazy packed so we left for the Mandrake but they were closed for a private party.

By now, it was just me and the UGs and we decided to try Bigfoot West. None of us had been before. I don’t think much of the original Bigfoot Lodge so I didn’t have any expectations. Josie told me she always finds princess parking and I was amazed she found a spot right away near the bar.

I tried an old fashioned with Buffalo Trace but found it lacking. It tasted too watery and sweet. So, I decided to go with one of their signature drinks, the Sasquatch.

sasquatch

Ah, this is more my style! It is unfortunate I found this drink at the end of the night.There’s some Wild Turkey, bitters and goodness knows what else! The glass very much reminds me of the mai tai at Liquid Kitty, a favorite bar of mine. That’s another drink that can knock you on your ass if you’re not looking.

what are green eggs and hamill?

We should have ordered the green eggs and hamill but all of us were afraid.

there's potential here

Ah, what a crazy night in Culver City!

Read the UncouthGourmands’ take on the night here.

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