Of course, my first post for Blogging.la would be about local eats.
The memory of Saturday’s beautiful sunny and warm afternoon was washed away by the downward deluge of cloud piss known as LA rain today. Yeah, yeah…this H20 stuff is good and all, but not when I’m lifting heavy furniture and climbing up stairs, veins bulging in the same way my Levis look when I watch that lesbian scene in Mulholland Drive. Considering the great possibility one of us would slip and fall, injure our gonads or other precious body parts, we decided to postpone my friend’s moving plans for a less aquatic condition. Instead we headed over to Little Tokyo to dry off and warm our dampened spirits and Hanes His/Her Way at the shabu-shabu house, Zakuro. For those who haven’t had this japanese culinary experience, shabu-shabu (which is a Japanese onomotopoeia for “swish-swish”) is basically a hotpot where vegetables, noodle, tofu and thinly sliced meats are quickly cooked in boiling kombu (seaweed) infused broth, then dipped into a citrus-infused ponzu sauce or a sesame-peanut sauce. Its like a fondue party of sorts…but there’s no cheese or funny dressed swiss folk. We ordered five plates of thinly sliced beef that probably could be run thru and printed upon with my HP printer, alongside a small plate of udon (thick) noodles, rice noodles, cabbage, carrots, and tofu. A central hotpot bubbles and boils for all to dunk in a communal free for all. Fortunately everything cooks in increments of tens of seconds, so gratification comes quicker than in a Hollywood backalley. Overall the meal was quite delicious and satisfying, but I did note that there was not a piece of kombu in the broth, nor yuzu to squeeze (a japanese citrus that makes all the difference between good and sublime). Considering the meal was free, as a token of my friend’s gratitude for lifting more wood than John Holmes that afternoon, I wasn’t in the mood to complain at all. And of course, the rain had stopped when we finished our meal.
You would think after stuffing yourself silly with plates of beef one would be too full to consider dessert. But being in Little Tokyo means making room at all costs, because there’s just too damn much in terms of foods that make you go yummmmm. Since I was the most seasoned of Little Tokyo diners, I decided to forgo the more typical mochi ice cream route and take my friends to get some imagawa-yaki, japanese pancakes with sweet red beans inside, at Mitsuru Cafe in the Japanese Village Plaza. I was raised as a wee lad staring thru the front window while these japanese old world treats were poured, flipped, and sandwiched right before my enamored eyes. They’re thrown into a foil lined bag which is meant to keep them hot and toasty, but usually the pastries don’t last long enough to be stored away. For $1 these are an amazing treat to finish your meal with, and I haven’t met one person whose eyes haven’t grown rounder and in approving fashion when they take that first virgin bite into those buns (oops, this is sounding like a post for another sorta blogging community). We left Little Tokyo this afternoon happier and more round in the belly, and that’s always a good conclusion to a rainy afternoon.