It might be owned by the Cheesecake Factory, but there's nothing cookie-cutter about the new franchise, RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen , at the Century City Mall. That's largely thanks to the kitchen work of Chef Mohan Ismail, who brings to bear all his experiences growing up in Singapore (Asia's version of a so-called melting pot), and then working at New York restaurants like Spice Market , Tabla and Blue Hill.
The array of appetizers was overwhelming and diverse, especially the Indian flatbread stuffed with spiced ground beef and a side of homemade ketchup, the "laquered" pork spare ribs, and the crispy chicken samosas served with a cool cilantro yogurt sauce.
The tangy grilled kumquat chicken and the tender ginger-soy black cod were excellent as entrees, as were the Kuala Lumpur noodles with seafood and chicken. For dessert, definitely order the caramelized banana custard cake, or the coconut doughnuts with passion fruit sauce.
In addition to the distinctive dishes , the restaurant itself stands out from its consumerism surroundings, with extensive woodworkings, and detailed embellishments that call to mind a Balinese temple-except with wicker chairs and dark-wood booths for dining. Ah well, we each pray in our own way.
Address: 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 654
Cross Street: Century Park West
Neighborhood: Century City
Phone: (310) 552-9988
Hours: Mon-Sun 11:30am-5pm, Sun-Thurs 5-10pm, Fri-Sat 5-11pm
Type: Asian, Fusion