The latest brilliant pairing is that of Bryant and Kim Ng, whose downtown restaurant the Spice Table, itself a fantastic mash-up of Bryant's Singaporean roots and Kim's Vietnamese background, is one of the best reasons to head to Little Tokyo, and Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb, the married couple that owns and operates Huckleberry, Rustic Canyon, Sweet Rose Creamery and Milo & Olive.
"Josh and Zoe are very inspirational and generous people, who we very much respect," Bryant Ng emailed from Japan, where he and his wife are celebrating their anniversary. (Congratulations!! Happy tsukemen!) "We're all like-minded, so when the opportunity came up to do something special together, it made a lot of sense."
Their new restaurant will go into the Art Deco Verizon building in Santa Monica sometime in the summer of 2014, and will be next door to Nathan and Loeb's planned wine bar and wine shop. Ng says the two couples "teased out" their partnership via Instagram a few weeks ago, by posting pictures of their respective shoes -- which proves again that sometimes following chefs on social media can be a lot more efficient and a lot more fun than getting relentless emails from PR firms.
Ng told us that everybody's still working on the details of the menu -- and the name of the place -- but that the food will be influenced by the flavors of Southeast Asia and by the culinary heritages of both Ngs.
That Nathan and Loeb are opening more restaurants in Santa Monica is hardly a surprise. That Ng is headed to Santa Monica makes sense if you consider again his heritage: not that there's necessarily a Singaporean community west of the 405, but Ng's grandparents owned a restaurant in Santa Monica in the '60s, a Cantonese-Polynesian place, speaking of mash-ups, called Bali Hai. Ng says the chance to "come full circle" in Santa Monica particularly appealed to him.
Regarding the Spice Table, the new project is not an iteration of that excellent restaurant -- nor a relocation of it. The restaurant is closing early next year, probably in March, pushed out by the MTA, as the Spice Table's current home sits directly in the way of a proposed Metro station. Ng is still in the process of finding a new space but says it will be "definitely in the downtown area." In the meantime, maybe head to Little Tokyo for your sambal and pig tail fix. And maybe pray that Ng puts it not only on the menu of the new Spice Table but maybe also serves it as a special someday in Santa Monica.