Sunday, September 19, 2010

Downtown Los Angeles Gastronomy Tour

Being a food lover who likes to try new dishes and cuisines, Los Angeles has tons of restaurants that I have yet to explore. I found out about these food tours given by Six Taste and thought it would be a great way to try bunch of different places while being a tourist in my own city.

We met on a beautiful day at Pershing Square. Here's looking at the Downtown LA skyline.

Our tour guide, Matt, did an excellent job in giving us the history at our stops. We learned that Pershing Square was once a camp ground for settlers during the population explosion in the 1850's. The 10-story tall bell tower behind him symbolizes the Mission that LA once was.

Matt also told us that this fountain at Pershing Square fills up according to the tides. When the tide is high, there would be a lot of water, and when the tide is low, there wouldn't be a lot of water. I guess we're having a low tide today.

The sun glistened off buildings.

As we walked to our first food stop by Bunker Hill, Matt told us that back in the days, people in Victorian dresses would be drenched in sweat walking uphill, so they built the world's shortest train ride called "Angels Flight." I had no idea we have this in LA. I rode the world's steepest train at the Blue Mountains in Australia last year, and now I know where the world's shortest train ride is. Pretty neat, eh?

Our first food stop, the Grand Central Market. I watch a lot of Food Network and Travel Channel shows, and this is a spot that was highlighted in several shows. I've been wanting to come here for a while!

We ate at Sarita's Pupuseria Salvadorean food stall. This is the first time I'm having Salvadorean food.

Trying some Revueltas ó Mixtas, which was a pork, bean, and cheese mix with a little kick to it. It was delicious!

While tasting at Sarita's, I noticed the Pho' stall across from it was advertising this "Mary Jane's" relaxing soda. We joked about being even more hungry after you drink it. Someone from the tour actually bought it. She said it was sweet and contained kava...that's probably the secret ingredient.

Our second food stop was in the Old Bank District in a little alleyway. I didn't know about this district until I went to the Downtown LA Artwalk in August. It's a pretty eclectic area with many galleries.

Our second food stop, Lost Souls Cafe.

We tasted some ube (purple yam) shake, and some pan de sal. They were yummy!


Hey, look what's on the ceiling?!

On our way to the third food stop, Matt told us about the ban on building height in early 1900's that no building can be taller than 150ft (City Hall). So once that ban was lifted, this was one of LA's first skyscrapers.

Yup, it's definitely taller than other buildings on Spring Street.

Our third food stop was at Syrup. A cute little cafe/dessert place on Spring that I've passed by before but didn't know much about it until now.

We were served their Georgia Peach Iced Tea. OMG this was the BEST iced tea I've had in my life! No joke!

We then sampled their pastries including grilled cheese with pear (yes, pear!) on the right, Belgian waffle on top, and raspberry and cream croissant on the left. They all tasted wonderful with flavors we never expected. We weren't sure about the grilled cheese with pear, but it totally blew our mind. The croissant turned out to be very interesting because you'd expect it to be sweet, but instead, it was savory. My favorite was their Belgian waffle. After having real Belgian waffles in Brussels in 2008, I became pretty picky when it comes to waffles. Syrup's was up to the standard! I highly recommend it.

The beautiful old Tower Theater building on our way to our fourth food stop.

Our fourth food stop, mac & cheeza.

We tried two kinds of mac & cheese here: bacon on the left, and veggies on the right. I've never had mac & cheese THIS good! I even took some home.

During this tour, I saw many old, beautiful, European style buildings with modern skyscrapers in the background. It's an interesting sight.

Our final stop, Soi 7, for some modern Thai cuisine. I heard so much about this place and had been wanting to check it out.

Nice interior at Soi 7. Matt told us all the decorations were brought in from Thailand.

First dish: Green Papaya Salad.

Second dish: Kobe beef. It was perfectly done! Very juicy, tender, and flavorful.

This was a family-sharing-style type of restaurant. Somehow all the dishes ended up with me, and I wasn't complaining!

Third dish: Calamari served with sweet and spicy dipping sauce. The gentleman next to me said he never eats calamari, but he loved these.

Fourth dish: Green Curry Fried Rice. This was my favorite and I highly recommend this. This was the BEST fried rice I've ever had. All the flavors just burst in your mouth. I didn't want to stop chewing because I wanted to savor every single element on my tongue!

Fifth dish: Eggplants. Eggplants are normally pretty bland, but these were so flavorful. I don't know how they got all the flavors in the meat of the eggplants while keeping them so simple and not soggy.

Sixth dish: Vegetable & Tofu Pad Thai.

For dessert, we indulged in coconut sticky rice, coconut ice cream, with mango slices. So refreshing!

After an amazing meal at Soi 7, we were all in food coma. While walking back to Pershing Square, I saw this cool light pattern reflecting on the white building on the left.

Beautiful entrance at the Pacific Center Building. This reminded me so much of Europe.

I'm so glad I came on this tour and explored my own city while enjoying some amazing food. I now have a whole new level of appreciation for the City of Angels. The more I learn about LA, the more I love it!

You can see the entire photo album here:

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