Speed Tasting at FIGat7th – Downtown Los Angeles

TASTE at FIGat7th

When I was a little girl living in southeastern Pennsylvania, the mall was the place for suburbanite kids like me to blow my allowance at. Check out the latest My Little Pony’s, smell all of the scented candles at the funky fantasy and New Age store, try to score a free ball on the Elvira pinball machine, and bum around the food court, enjoying my 10 year old metabolism as I gorge out on Boardwalk Fries, a slice of cheese pizza and an Orange Julius. However, ever since my childhood mall took consumerism to a whole new level of grotesque, I’ve put considerable distance between myself and my old mallrat ways. I prefer simpler, toned down shopping areas to the mass corralling of consumers.

In the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, the newly minted FIGat7th stands as a shopping and dining destination with a decidedly Southern California flavor. Enhanced with Brookfield’s $40 million makeover, this open-air destination offers a contemporary urban retail experience for Downtown’s professional, visitor and growing residential populace. Anchored by one of the nation’s first City Target stores, FIGat7th boasts more than 330,000 square feet of retail and public space, including the TASTE FIGat7th culinary collection.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a big “Speed Tasting” event hosted by FIGat7th to introduce the new fast-casual options patrons can select from while on-the go in Downtown, taking a break from shopping or grabbing a quick bite on their lunch break. I guess the term “food court” is passé, harkening back to those Fast Times at Ridgemont High days of greasy junk food nobody wants to associate with anymore?

Before I dive into my run down, I’d like to offer major kudos to the management of FIGat7th and especially the delightful servers, who busted their butts to deliver hundreds of dishes to a substantially sized crowd.

Below are the highlights from the “best, worst, and middle of the road” samplings.

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Tom’s Urban – L.A. Live

Tom's Urban - Media Preview
Tom’s Urban

Too much of a good thing is going to be my ruin, I tell you what. Yesterday I went to David’s Bridal to pick up my maid of honor dress, and much to my chagrin – I’d gained some weight. Blast it. It’s not a lot, just enough to not get the last bit of the zipper up and annoy the ever living crap out of me. I guess the whole Unemployment Diet isn’t working out for me, huh? In all honesty, it’s not that big of a surprise, and it’s just the kick in the ass I need to get me to (A) incorporate more movement in my daily routine and (B) get some more self control on my eating habits. I’ll be okay, it’s just aggravating. Especially since I’m going dress shopping on Wednesday for my other bridesmaid dress. Ah, well.

I guess the moral of the story is for me to only go hog wild when I am invited out – as I was las Tuesday to enjoy Tom’s Urban, the latest addition to L.A. Live.

Tom Ryan is the namesake of Tom’s Urban, and this is the first location to debut outside of Tom’s home state of Colorado. Tom also founded and developed national better burger concept Smashburger, along with the recently launched Neapolitan pizza joint Live Basil Pizza, both of which also reside alongside Tom’s Urban at L.A. LIVE. Together the three restaurants occupy the space of the former ESPN Zone.

Let’s dig in.

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Dim Sum at Ocean Seafood Restaurant – Chinatown

Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Chinatown

What did you do to ring in the new year? I went bowling with a couple of girlfriends, but did not imbibe for fear I would be unable to wake up bright-eyed and busy tailed the next morning, for i was accompanying my friend Liz and her family to the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. It’s easy to take for granted how accessible I am to so many cool goings on here in Los Angeles, and I think that is a serious problem we locals struggle with, to not take all of this good shit for granted.

Attending the Rose Parade took care of that, however, as I joined 700,000 other individuals for this New Year’s Day tradition. The float from Singpoli Group wound up being my favorite and I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out why:

Pegasus! Ahhhh! There were a lot of magnificently creative floats and talented marching bands this year. You can check out the rest of my Tournament of the Roses Parade 2014 videos on Vine right over here!

A couple of days prior to the Parade, Liz and I took off for a downtown Los Angeles adventure. Ever since Liz took me to Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Chinatown back in, oh, 2008? 2007? I’ve been a big sucker for Hong Kong style dim sum: grouchy Chinese ladies pushing rickety, dented metal carts as they shout their wares in my face, “Chicken feet!” “Shumai!” “Char Sui Bao! You want?!” I feel the daggers in my chest whenever I politely wave off an offered dish, but that’s all part of the experience. I’ve ate at table service style dim sum and it leaves me rather wanting.

Neither Liz nor I have returned to the quintessential Hong Kong style restaurant since my inaugural visit, but there was something about the end of 2013 that compelled us to return.

I did not snap any still images, but you get the grand scope of our meal from this Tastemade video. I’ll list my favorites below.

My favorites:
- Shrimp in rice noodle
- Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings)
- Egg yolk buns
- Seaweed
- Chicken buns

Ocean Seafood Restaurant
750 N Hill Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 687-3088

The Lexus Grand Tasting: L.A. Food and Wine Festival

Lexus Grand Tasting - Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival 2013

The Lexus Grand Tasting – Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival

Late as usual, but I swear I have an worthy reason this time. The day after The Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival concluded, I was off the grid at my annual volunteer excursion. I had to be up at 5:00am and out the door by 6:00am to take kids living with heart health issues to Catalina island. See? Now you feel bad for wondering what took me so long getting this up.

Initially I was going to have separate posts for Saturday and Sunday of The Lexus Grand Tasting, but an overwhelming majority of the dishes I enjoyed were on Saturday while there were a lot of misses for me on Sunday. I didn’t want to be such a Debbie downer, so I decided to combine my favorites from both Saturday and Sunday of The Lexus Grand Tasting!

This is an image-heavy post, so click the READ MORE for some hard-corn food porn!

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Badmaash – This Party Bytes (Downtown Los Angeles)

Badmaash Preview Party

Wine at Badmaash in Downtown L.A.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to celebrate the new digital division of Bread and Butter Public Relations, aptly named Bread and Butter Bytes. I took Steffie along, as I was staying with her in Hollywood for a couple of days of Quality Girl Time ~ mostly wedding planning stuff; narrowing in on her precise colors (fuchsia pink and sunflower yellow!) and venues. Though I was feeling a bit out of sorts, we decided to get dolled up and make the trek from Hollywood into Downtown L.A. via the subway. Badmaash, the new Indian-Gastropub hosts of the party, is just a few blocks away from the Civic Center station on the Red Line.

Badmaash, the new kid on the block, is the “badass” culmination of efforts by father-son culinary duo, Chef Pawan and Nakul Mahendro. Reflective of their Indian heritage, Badmaash brings the vibrant flavors of Indian street food met with Chef Pawan’s years of culinary prestige. Guests were asked to Tweet for their drinks, and a projector on the wall had a live Twitter feed with the hashtags #BadmaashLA and #Thispartybytes for all to see.

Badmaash Preview Party

The very modern location was reminiscent of a Manhattan loft, very angular, hip with pops of art and color against a sparse contrast. I was unfortunately a bit under the weather, so I only had a couple of nibbles and a lot of water before heading out a bit early. It was worth the trek, though, to see familiar faces: my friendly contacts and Bread and Butter, Kasey from Kasey’s Kitchen, Fiona from Gourmet Pigs, H.C. from L.A. and O.C. Foodventures, and made a new friend in Jules of Vineal Vixen. Here are some photos of the event:

Badmaash Preview Party

Badmaash Preview Party
Upstairs loft

Badmaash Preview Party

Badmaash Preview Party

Badmaash Preview Party
Masala Fries – really damn tasty!

I’m very sorry my stomach kept me from sampling the food and imbibing; the aromas of exotic Indian spices and fresh fare wafted throughout the eatery, tantalizing me with bites I could not have at that moment. Another day, Badmaash, another day.

108 West 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

What’s the Dish: Afternoon Tea at Mignon

WHO: Mignon, the Downtown LA wine bar with French charm and rustic cuisine

WHAT: Introduced by owner and oenophile Santos Uy, Mignon gets classy with its new high tea menu featuring Mariage Frères tea from the famed Parisienne tea house. For $15, guests can enjoy a proper salon de thè experience and choose from the following menu items:

Mariage Frères Tea assorted varieties

Assorted Finger Sandwiches: French Ham, Mustard, Jam Paprika Egg Salad, Smoked Salmon, Dill and Crème Fraiche, Cucumber and Butter.

Far Breton Cake

Items will also be available a la carte
Full wine list also available

WHEN: Every Saturday 3:00p-6:00p

WHERE: 128 E. 6th St. Los Angeles, CA 90014

CONTACT: 213.489.0131 | www.mignonla.com

Review: Fat Spoon (Downtown Los Angeles)

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo

This post is rather late, as I recently learned that dear Fat Spoon closed its doors at the end of November. How did I find this out, you ask? Hankering for some delectable tonkatsu curry, I merrily ventured off to Little Tokyo after an early morning doctor appointment in downtown Los Angeles, did a little shopping in Marukai, and walked over to Fat Spoon…where I came face to face with a sign declaring the sad news that they had closed. In my most Shatner-esque moment, I flung my arms akimbo, groceries hanging heavily in each hand, threw my head back and cried, “Nooooooooooo!”

The note told of re-opening, however, and having a sister restaurant, Toranoko, that I have yet to patronize and therefore cannot comment on. I was lying in wait for another visit to Fat Spoon so I could have more dishes to comment on, but alas, who knows when that will be. My hope now is that this post will encourage others to give the gang at Fat Spoon another go if and when they re-open elsewhere. I just hope wherever, whenever they reopen, the restaurant remains close (or closer) to me!

I first came across Fat Spoon at the L.A. Street Food Festival this summer, where their beef tongue curry woke up my worn out tastebuds and reminded me of a love I once had for Japanese curry. Over the years, I have grown disenchanted with J-style curry, though, as I increasingly found it to be a salty, gloppy mess covering up poorly executed tonkatsu or chicken-katsu. So when the Fat Spoon curry crossed my path, I made quite a fuss over them in person and they rewarded my enthusiasm with a $20.00 gift certificate. Sweet.

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo
Daikon Condiments

Flash forward a month or so when I decided to meet up with one of my ‘net pals and I suggested Fat Spoon. Only problem? Totally forgot my gift card. D’oh. Still, the prices weren’t overwhelmingly awful, so we stuck with Fat Spoon for lunch.

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo
Tarako ($10)
Salted cod roe, cream, dried seaweed & chopped green onion

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo

I was waffling between this, the uni pasta and the tonkatsu curry ever sine my companion agreed to dining at Fat Spoon. Figuring I would use my gift certificate for the Uni Pasta another day, I went with the Tarako. The perfect blend of salty and creamy, this dish was comfort incarnate. When I was a kid, Fettuccine Alfredo was my favorite, FAVORITE dish and had I grown up in a home with Japanese flavors, I like to think this dish is what I would have called my favorite, FAVORITE!

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo
Pork Cutlet (Tonkatsu) Curry ($10)

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo
Curry Sauce

My friend Ana ordered this signature dish (I credit my non-too-subtle brainwashing attempts, including quoting previous reviews claiming this to be the most moist pork cutlet ever) and happily tucked in. We both admired the plating of this dish, keeping the meat, rice and sauce separate to let the diner measure out how much of what they want. This curry is very authentic; the hint of natural sweetness from a fruit such as an apple was subtly evident under the mildly spiced earthy curry. Oh, and the pork? Totally lived up to the hype.

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo
Baked Sweet Potato (compliments of the chef)
vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce

The chef sent this out for us to gorge out on. Gorge we did, too, after securing our eyes back into their sockets (too gross? Sorry; wanted to illustrate how surprised we were by the gesture and the simple genius of the dish itself). Sweet, but not sugary, this dessert had our spoons competing for another scoop. Yum.

Ah, Fat Spoon. I had an incredible time visiting you and only snagged but a sampling of your delicious fare. My Christmas wish is that you will reopen in 2013 (somewhere easily attainable for me, She Who Does Not Drive) and serve up your flavorful, moderately priced albeit powerfully addictive food once more.

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