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.

Stay Updated on Fat Spoon news:
http://fatspoonfood.com
and
Fat Spoon on Facebook

Event: LA Street Food Fest 2012

I was invited to attend the 3rd annual LA Street Food Fest on behalf of my new pal Mr. Pasadena. You can read my write up right over here. As that article gave all of the fancy logistical information I am not going to repeat it here. No, siree – I’m going to dive in straight to showing off the food. Some were a hit, some were a miss, and as it was quite possibly the hottest day of the summer yet, I had to pass up on a lot of food because it was PORK SMOTHERED IN PORK FAT DRENCHED WITH AU JUS GRAVY WRAPPED IN BACON WITH TRUFFLE OIL!
It was a touch ridiculous.
Okay, on with the show!


Kings Row Gastropub - Curried Al Pastor Pork Belly with naan
Curried Al Pastor Pork Belly with naanKings Row Gastropub

My Thoughts: The first eat of the day provided by my buddies at Kings Row. I would never, ever order this – UNTIL NOW. Holy shit was that good, and I’m not one for pork belly, either. I honestly thought this was chicken.


Jidori Potpie Chicken Poutine - Frysmith
Jidori Potpie Chicken PoutineFrysmith

My Thoughts: Frysmith…what happened? Last year I would have said that Frysmith provided my favorite sampling of the entire day. This concoction just did not compare. The vegetables look like they came from a frozen mix bag and the chardonnay gravy was so lackluster it may as well had not even been on there. Probably the biggest disappointment of the entire day, especially since I was expecting something as awesome as last year.



The Peking Duck Truck - Peking Duck Slider
Peking Duck SliderThe Peking Duck Truck

My thoughts: The debut of this truck met with mixed emotions from the crowd. I did taste a bit of over-seasoning, particularly with salt, but I also tasted potential. Keep at it, Peking Duck Truck! I know you have it in you. Just use a conservative hand with the seasoning and let the duck speak for itself.


Glazed Pork Ears - Haven Gastropub
Glazed Pork EarsHaven Gastropub

My thoughts: Another pork serving I was able to catch early enough before I had to throw in the towel on all things pig. I sure am pleased I did pick this up, too, because it is definitely in my top 5 favorites of the day. Sweet and crunchy with a tangerine and Fresno chili glaze, I could munch on these all day long.


Viet-Minced Beef-Tacular! Starry Kitchen
Viet-Minced Beef-Tacular! – Starry Kitchen

My Thoughts: Another favorite. Actually, screw it; this was totally my favorite. I’m terribly disappointed in myself for never venturing to Starry Kitchen and they’re about close and re-launch in a few months.


Kogi BBQ Truck - Short Rib Taco
Short Rib TacoKogi BBQ Truck

My Thoughts: My first Kogi Truck experience could not have been more perfect. Really, this would have been my favorite but I feel like that would be slightly cheating since Kogi is the King of Food Trucks for a reason. Oh, so delicious and mom gave me hers after one bite (she couldn’t take the heat). Really spectacular and lives up to their hype.


Mariscos La Guerrerense - Sea Snail Tostada
Sea Snail Toastada – Mariscos La Guerrerense

My Thoughts: Eating land snail is a bit of a no-no for me, morally speaking, but I permitted myself to indulge in its aquatic cousin. Though it was good in a squishy spicy kind of way, I am still living with the guilt. Yes, I’m weird.


Banana Bitz - Vintage Longboards Ice Cream
Banana BitzLongboards Ice Cream

My Thoughts: Out of all of the out of the norm desserts this one was my favorite. Frozen banana dipped in chocolate is not precisely exotic, but toss in a peanut butter drizzle and potato chips and now we’re taking about dessert evolution!


Coba Aguas Fresca - Guayaba
Guayaba – Coba Aquas Fresca

My Thoughts: While on the hunt for the elusive water mom and I came upon this and really enjoyed it. She had the mango but I went with the more exotic guava flavor. Very refreshing.


Picarones from Mo-Chica
PicaronesMo-Chica

My Thoughts: This sweet potato kabocha, Peruvian beignets were awesome on their own and did not need the addition of the star-anise, cloves, cinnamon, chancaca sauce – which was honestly too sweet and tasted like plain old maple syrup anyway.


Ori Menashe - Grilled Octopus & Calabrian Sausage over cannellini beans & preserved lemon
Grilled Octopus, Calabrian Sausage over Cannellini Beans, preserved lemon – Ori Menashe

My Thoughts: These good people fixed me up a bowl sans sausage but I still wanted to show off the entire dish. The octopus was a touch salty but otherwise grilled perfectly. Though I did not catch any lemon flavors, the beans were a lovely touch.


Sicilian Cannoli - Sotto
Sicilian CannoliSotto

My Thoughts: My favorite sweet treat, hands down. I love me a good cannoli and this gorgeous piece of confectionery made of ricotta, orange marmalade, pistachios and chocolate really stood out for its classic simplicity.


Playa - Cielo Verde Cornet
Cielo Verde CornetPlaya

Mom’s Thoughts: After indulging in too much rich and meaty fare, mom was desperate for some roughage and found a proverbial oasis in this little beauty made from chopped salad of rooftop vegetables and lettuces, Chipolte crema, avocado and micro amaranth.


Shrimp Taquito - Yxta Cocina Mexicano & Mercado
Shrimp TaquitoYxta Cocina Mexicano Mercado

My Thoughts: Another festival favorite. Simple. Delicious. End of story.


Strawberry Mint Sorbet - Sweet Lucie's
Strawberry Mint Lemonade SorbetSweet Lucie’s

My Thoughts: Very refreshing and easy on my palate as well as my stomach. A very appreciated break from all of the exotic offerings.


Beef Tongue Curry - Fat Spoon
Beef Tongue Curry - Fat Spoon

My Thoughts: A more generous portion than I’d have hoped for consider the nature of the event but I’ll not look a gift horse in the mouth. This was extremely flavorful and well cooked. I was actually surprised I enjoyed it so much, considering I’ve not really liked Japanese curry for a number of years because of its thick heaviness. I look forward to going to Fat Spoon in the near future.

VIEW MY ENTIRE SET ON FLICKR – See all 95 pictures I took from the event, including more food and drink not featured.


Top Five Street Food Fest Eats: Viet Mince Beef-Tacular (Starry Kitchen), Shrimp Taquito (Yxta Cocina Mexicano Mercado), Short Rib Taco (Kogi BBQ Truck), Curried Alpastor Pork (Kings Row), Glazed Pork Ears (Haven Gastropub)

Top Three Street Food Fest Sweets: Sicilian Cannoli (Sotto), Banana Bitz (Longboards Ice Cream), Strawberry Mint Lemonade Sorbet (Sweet Lucie’s)


The Event Itself
This year lacked the comfort and relaxing atmosphere of 2011, which was held on the grassy field adjacent to the Rose Bowl. Now situated on the blacktop concourse surrounding the Bowl, the heat was intensified, the vendors more spread out and it just made for a miserable combination on this sweltering day. While waiting for the media gate to open I noticed an ambulance to my immediate left already loading up some young girl into their vehicle. I don’t want assume anything about the situation – that it was related to the heat, that she might have been standing in line, in the heat, on blacktop, with no water/shade, with her family waiting for the event to open – but it was not the best of signs to kick-off the event.

I felt as if nobody from the LA Street Food Fest really gave a damn about the discomfort of their guests – particularly the VIPs, who paid $20 extra for those two hours of early admission. There was only one vendor providing water – Scion – and poorly at that, as those managing the booth seemed extraordinarily challenged at maintaining cold bottled water. My mother and I ventured to them twice – and twice we were handed extremely warm water bottles. We inquired after cold ones but the snippy girl behind the booth rudely insisted they had none.

While lines for the food were quick and efficient, alcohol still took a while and will be the next line challenge to tackle. If the organizers can show respect for the weather and plan accordingly to tend to their guests I think LA Street Food Fest could be nearly perfect. All in all, a lot of kinks to iron out but this is still definitely an event I feel has a worthy shot of becoming must-do event for Pasadena and the Southern California food scene.

For news on future events keep an eye on LA Street Food Fest official website



Mister Mighty Boba Man!
See you next year, Mighty Boba Man!