Housed in a hard-to-find, upper-level space, Simbal is a Southeast Asian-inspired restaurant and bar in Little Tokyo that specializes in Vietnamese izakaya, from Top Chef contestant Shawn Pham. Prior to opening Simbal, Pham did his due diligence, spending time cooking in Vietnamese food stalls… in Vietnam. His take on the cuisine is focused into small plates with traditional Vietnamese ingredients presented in unexpected, creative ways — like the carb-free, deconstructed Banh Mi Salad. While the dim sum-style menu is great for sharing, the five-course tasting menu option on offer is reasonably priced, paired with various Rieslings, and personally tailored to each guest. Win, win, win.