Chef Bryant Ng and Kim Luu-Ng’s Iconic Burger Makes a Comeback at Cassia
By Dolores Quintana
For enthusiasts of Bryant Ng and Kim Luu-Ng’s acclaimed former restaurant, The Spice Table, there’s exciting news in store. Their new restaurant in Santa Monica, Cassia, at 1314 7th Street, now features monthly dine-in specials and is reintroducing a fan-favorite—the legendary “The Spice Table Burger.” This special, available throughout November, pays homage to In-N-Out while elevating the experience with a ground short rib patty, sambal sauce, curried pickles, mustard aioli, fried shallots, and the classic combination of iceberg lettuce, tomato, and American cheese.
Accompanied by irresistibly addictive cumin fries, this culinary delight is the perfect pairing with a craft beer. Chef Bryant is already contemplating December’s special—could it be the Vietnamese Pot au Feu return or another delightful nostalgic dish? Stay tuned to find out what he chooses.
When we asked Chef Bryant about the reasoning behind this change, he said, “Back in 2013, when I first cooked this burger at The Spice Table, many fancy restaurants were making fancy burgers. If you can remember that far back, they were stuffed with foie gras and truffles and looked like creations only a fancy chef could create in their dreams. I wanted to do the opposite. Not to be different, but because that’s who I am. I wanted a burger that looked like a burger. I wanted to use Kraft American cheese. I wanted it to taste like nostalgia but slightly different. You didn’t need to know why it was different; it just needed to taste good and remind you of something. So, I looked at burgers I love In-n-Out (Animal style with chopped chiles…of course), Pie-n-Burger (add onions and heavy on the seasoning), and Apple Pan’s Hickory burger (as is).
The love for these burgers is what led to The Spice Table Cheeseburger. Like everyone, I love smash burgers because of the awesome caramelization and crust the meat forms on the griddle. I chose instead to cook it on the grill for that slight smokey flavor you get while cooking over really hot coals to give it that caramelization and crust. It’s not as crusty as the smash (and we all love crusty), but you get smokiness from the open flames. Back then, Los Angeles Times’ Jonathan Gold (RIP) called it one of his top 10 burgers in LA…I miss him. Besha Rodell (then at LA Weekly) called it the best “low brow” burger, which I took as a huge compliment…because she understood what I was trying to do. I brought it back to Cassia (and only for one month, November) to remind me and our staff of where we came from and that keeping it simple may just be the best way.”