Monday, November 23, 2009

Delicious and Informative Morsels: SixTaste Little Tokyo Tour

Negitoro Don by plushcattech.
Negitoro Don Sample (Photo courtesy of plushcattech)

Ending my week-long birthday celebration, I went on the Six Taste Little Tokyo Food Walking Tour. It had been many years since I had visited Little Tokyo, and I was refreshing my memory of Japanese customs as well as getting to know more about Los Angeles.

Overall, the food was delicious and our tour guide was very helpful and well-informed, but the number one thing that impressed me the most was the close proximity of MOCA, JANM and JACCC to Little Tokyo. I mean walking close! And here I thought that everything was far apart because "nobody walks in LA!"

Our first stop was Spitz, a kebab restaurant with the best garlic aioli sauce. Wait? I thought this was a Little Tokyo Tour? Spitz showed the diversity of Little Tokyo, and even had that slight "academia" feel (it's run by college grads as well) with its recycled art and furnishings. Next stop was the courtyard/park in front of the JACCC, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center where we had sushi from Oomasa and enjoyed the hidden Japanese garden with blooming Tsubaki (Japanese Camelia), my favorite flower. We then tasted the soft and subtley sweet mochi from the oldest shop in Little Tokyo, Fugestu-Do. Our tour came full circle and back to the Japanese Village Plaza where we sampled mochi-lato (gelato instead of ice cream) at Mikawaya, imagawayaki (a traditional Japanese dessert) at Mitsuru Cafe, and ended our tour with a negitoro-don from the first Wakasaya in Los Angeles (the chain of Wakasaya restaurants are in Hokkaido, but the owner lives here in LA!).

On the way through the whole tour, we were treated with juicy morsels of Little Tokyo's past, including mail-order brides, apple pie and fire towers. While I already know I'm coming back for more hazelnut mochi-lato and negitoro-don, I found the history of Little Tokyo and the surrounding areas to be the highlight of the tour. Oh! and now I know I can go to all those great events at the JANM, JACC and the Aratani Theatre and add a little shopping on the side!

-Tiina Vuorenmaa

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