Warung = Street Cafe
Halfway between Spring and Main on Fourth Street is the one-year-old Warung Cafe. We sojourned there one Friday afternoon to sample their hot and cold "Small Plates". Although we were their first patrons at 11:30 a.m. when they opened, by the time we left at 1:00 p.m., the place was a beehive of activity. Undoubtedly, the people downtown have discovered this place and, like us, love it!
It's both simple and beautiful: long and narrow, the banquettes and tables have a warm, welcoming air. The gracious staff bids you welcome and caters to your every whim. Here, unshelled salted edamame are presented when you sit down and it's great fun shelling them in your mouth. The menu is uncomplicated and filled with taste-tempting, inexpensive plates to share.
There are sixteen hot and twelve cold plates. Three "Combination" plates are designed to offer three choices to avoid any further thinking. And, at the bottom of the menu is their "Instructions For Use" of the restaurant; just one of the very nice touches by a management that cares!
Here is a list of the plates three of us shared with the price in parentheses:
– Shitake Mushroom Miso Soup (4) A generous bowl of miso with floating mushrooms and tofu in a very flavorful broth. Excellent. - Baby Vegetable Crudités (3) A lovely array of carrots, red sweet pepper, jicama, cucumber with a wonderful miso marinade and cream sesame dipping sauce. - Ahi Tuna Tataki Salad (7) Several medium slices of ahi served aboard organic greens and onions with a crispy wonton vinaigrette. If you like this dish, you'll love what Chef Angel presents here. - Asian Pork Ribs (7) Three large marinated ribs with some Asian spices added to awaken the palate. Very, very nice! - Woked Mongolian Beef (7) Three medium slices of beef in a sweet hoisin sauce, served with steamed rice. All I can say is I shall have this dish every time I go to Warung. - Crispy Chicken Potstickers (5) Though the filling was delicious, these potstickers were very dry, even with the dipping. They earned a gentleman's "C". - Wok Stir-Fried Wild Mushrooms (6) If you are a mushroom fan, make sure to have this dish. It's prepared in a garlic and butter soy sauce and will linger in your memory long after you leave. - Peanut Noodle (5) Was not ordered but sent as a friendly gesture by Chef Angel. It's a plate of cold ramen noodles tossed with a peanut sauce – just OK. - The two most expensive items on the menu include Baby Lamb Chops (11) and Grilled Filet Mignon (10). I'd recommend both for each is most flavorful, tender and, simply, delicious. The chops come with a salad; the steak with taro root wasabi mash.
Please don't leave without tasting their Coconut Crème Brulee (4.50) Perhaps one of the finest and cheapest brulee's you will ever encounter.
In those "Instructions For Use" presented on the menu is included: "Listen to Ambient Asian Grooves. Enjoy Great Food. Go Home. Repeat. And when you return to Warung, please make certain to tell 'em Joseph sent you. They like me there!
Warung Café, 118 W. 4th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013, Tel. 213-626-0662, Open Monday – Friday days for lunch and Monday – Saturday for Dinner. Closed Sundays. Approx. $35-lunch for two. No alcohol served