Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Foodventuring Through Arts District & Little Tokyo

This past weekend, I was invited to check out the inaugural L.A. Sriracha Festival. But when I arrived at its start time of 3 p.m., I saw this right outside. . .
sriracha fest line
(and there's another line equally long wrapped around the corner!)

. . . so I decided to bolt & explore the area a little while before making a return.
Urban Radish Market

About a block down from the festival's site at Lot 613, I came across Urban Radish -- a recently opened market that reminds me of a Surfas & Sprouts hybrid (with some gourmet boutique-y food items, along with fresh, seasonal produce, a sandwich bar and even cold-pressed juices.)

As it turned out, I have been on a hunt for onion jam (for those moments when I'm too lazy to fuss about with caramelizing my own onions) and found a nice one by The Jam Stand there, so I snapped that up and mozied onwards, while keeping this place on notice for future gourmet shopping occasions (for me, it's lot closer than either Surfas.)

My next stop was The Pour Haus, which I've always known as that wine bar next to Church & State. Since I wasn't in any mood to eat until I returned to Sriracha Fest, this seemed like the perfect place to mellow & linger while waiting for the admission lines to dwindle down. 
Pour Haus Wine Flight
And sure enough, I had a lovely flight of three Southern Italian Reds here—my favorite being Cantine Colosi's 2011 Nero d'Avola, which was soft, juicy with ripe berry and plummy aromas—an easygoing red for a warm afternoon. The $9 pricetag for three generous pours isn't bad either.
Sriracha Fest
After the flight (and a glass of happy hour Lambrusco), I made my way back to the Sriracha Festival around 4:30 p.m. (halfway into the event). The admission line was gone, but alas, so were many of the foods (and the few remaining stalls still serving foods had considerably long queues themselves.) But I did manage to sneak in some nibbles and sips, including a fairly fiery Sriracha leather from Pour Vous (which was apparently used on their pork sliders that ran out fast), Eagle Rock Brewery's Manifesto witbier and a Thai Tea soda from Los Angeles Ale Works.
Little Bear
Since I didn't get to eat much, I joined Caroline on Crack for an excursion to Little Bear, where we shared a plate of their heavenly crispy brussel sprouts and a refreshing glass of Firestone-Walker's Vessel 8 Saison, and hungrily eyed her tomato soup with grilled cheese dippers too.

After Caroline and I parted ways, I decided to head to Little Tokyo to see what food mood will strike. Ramen in Daikokuya? Udon at Marugame Monzo? Sushi at Sushi Gen or Toshi? Homestyle foods at Suehiro?

Shabu Shabu House
Alas, I settled upon Shabu Shabu House, since I haven't been in a while and since I'm solo, it's a prime opportunity for me to snag a seat quickly and bypass their infamously long waits. 

Indeed, I got seated within 20 minutes (even while couples were being told to expect an hour wait by the host.) And their beef shabu shabu was pretty solid: the meat was meltingly tender and nicely accented with the sesame & ponzu sauces, and the vegetables tasted fresh and clean. Definitely worth a re-visit if I'm solo-dining again, not so much with company though. 
The Pie Hole

Last but not least, a quick stop by The Pie Hole for some baked goods to go, a bacon & cheddar scone for the breakfast the next morning and a slice of their maple custard pie to satisfy my sweet tooth. Both were heavenly, and intriguing enough for me to want to attempt reverse-engineering at home (though I had already done a version of the cheese scone before.)

In any case, I'm delighted what started out as a single-event invite turned into a foodventurous afternoon and evening through the Eastern parts of downtown. And if Sriracha Festival returns next year, I'll be sure to make a note of getting my butt there extra early!

Disclosure: my admission to the Sriracha Festival was hosted.

613 Imperial Street 
Los Angeles, CA 90021

661 Imperial St
 Los Angeles, CA 90021
(213) 892-1570

1820 Industrial St
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(213) 327-0304

1855 Industrial St
Los Angeles, CA ‎90021
(213) 622-8100

Shabu Shabu House (Yelp page)
127 Japanese Village Plaza Mall 
Los Angeles, CA ‎
(213) 680-3890

714 Traction Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 537-0115

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