Thundering drumbeats echoed through Century City’s Westfield Plaza while I navigated my way past the high-end retailers. I stopped by to watch an Indian dance group, complete with live tabla player and DJ, teach some boisterous bhangra moves to passerbys in the open-air food court area. The Bollywood tunes faded into the background as a perfect prequel to the Asian delectable delights to follow. Don’t let the imposing outdoor “shopping mall” atmosphere dissuade you from a unique dining experience your out-of-town guests will never forget.
Photo Courtesy of: Nick Taylor/Flickr
Make your entrance through the heavy wooden doors adorned with ornate designs and step into the long crimson-lit lobby ideal for a pre-dinner cocktail, chatting around a warm welcoming firepit. Guided by a friendly hostess, my friend and I were directed to a cozy table for two against the wall, past the spiffy bar area decorated with large golden Buddha statues. As someone who doesn’t love Chinese food, I was a little hesitant about dining here, but after learning the menu features unique cuisine from various countries in the Far East, I was sold.
After offering us warm towels to clean our hands, we munched on complimentary fried rice crackers filled with black sesame seeds, which were dangerously addictive. The Singapore-raised Chef Mohan Ismail stopped by our table to discuss each menu item and directed me towards items especially appealing to my pro-spicy palate. We ordered the Chef’s Tasting Special, eager to take a culinary tour of Asia course by course, starting with three delicious appetizers. The vegetarian samosas came in a close second to my mom’s homemade specialty, with a crispy thin shell stuffed loaded with spicy potatoes and peas. The shrimp tempura filled my mouth with an exceptional party of spicy sweet flavors. The BBQ ribs are a must-order; they literally melted in my mouth and I couldn’t help licking the chili-caramel sauce off my fingertips.
The waiter once again blessed us with warm towels to wipe our sticky hands and dropped off a refreshing green mango and papaya salad reminiscent of a tropical zentopia. Not much of a chicken-eater myself, we ordered the Shaking Beef and the Indonesian Cilantro Shrimp. Yum and yum! I loved the zestiness of the shrimp and my guest declared the succulent beef the best dish of the night. The spicy cauliflower and delicately fried eggplant sides complimented our main entrees, and by this point I was glad I wore a stretchy onesie to accommodate my burgeoning belly.
Each bite of the caramelized banana custard cake paired with a bite of chocolate ice cream floated me closer to dessert heaven. It was just the right epilogue to a page-turning novel of a meal you just can’t put down. Your out-of-town visitors will enjoy celebrity spotting while feasting on a memorable Pan-Asian feast that transports you to Singapore, Thailand, India, and beyond.