Monday, April 5, 2010
Six Taste Little Tokyo Tasting Tour Los Angeles, CA
2010 is all about eating everything, and trying new things, and learning something along the way. We kicked this tradition off in early February with an outing in Little Tokyo in downtown L.A.
EIGHT years ago, when Nate and I started dating (and even before that when we were "just friends") we used to head through the 2nd street tunnel and have sushi at HAMA, pretty often. At the time, I hadn't lived in L.A. too long, Nate went to USC, so he had a few years and more knowledge of awesome spots to do cool stuff than I did. When ever a friend or family member would come to town, I loved taking them to Little Tokyo to this seemingly hidden spot that felt like it was ours, and I felt really cool knowing about it.
Late last year I read about a company called Six Taste and their "tasting tours" in Los Angeles. I constantly checked for tickets but every weekend they were available I was out of town or busy and every weekend I was around, it'd sell out before I could pounce on it! They keep the tours under 15 people so it is a more intimate experience, which we totally appreciated.
FINALLY I snagged some tickets to their walking gastronomy tour of Little Tokyo and counted the minutes to that Saturday afternoon.
The tour consists of walking an area less than a mile, over the course of about 3 or 4 hours, with plenty of chances to sit, use the restroom and enjoy the delicious food!
We went with 4 friends (2 other couples) and had with our tour, two brothers and their wives, with their mother for her birthday and a food aficionado from Laguna Beach, and our spectacular guide, Tata!
Little Tokyo has had quite a makeover since we last sat at the bar in Hama and had the yellow tail collar and some hamachi, the lot we used to park in was a big building of luxury apartments with store fronts on the street level.
We met in front of the Japanese American History museum and started by learning a bit about the history of Little Tokyo- and got our first taste of the tour.
Tata had stopped at Yamazaki bakery and brought us a green tea dessert and a "melon cake" dessert. She gave us each a taste of each and we discussed which of the two was more western style...and WHY....
It was threatening to rain, but never did, the day was gorgeous! We walked along, down the cherry blossom tree lined street. They were not in bloom, but will be later in the spring, which would be a great time for YOU to go on this tour and check it out!!
Our first stop was at a restaurant on the street level of the big building that was sitting on top of what used to be the parking lot we'd park in for our dinners at Hama. It was not Japanese, what? Interesting! Little Tokyo is a crossroads for all kinds of culture, food and we headed into a Doner Kebab called Spitz, to see first hand how there was a wide variety of yumminess in this small corner of L.A.
Spitz has delicious homemade garlic ailoi and hummus, which are both sensational with their pita chip strips, or the sweet potato fries. We also got to taste the three spectacular (and creative) sangria recipes~ cinnamon/cardamom, white peach/basil and and apple/mint.
We were pretty full after Spitz, with much more to see and eat, so it was a good thing Tata took us on a little walk around the block to learn more of the history of the area before our next taste.
Our next stop was the Fugetsu-Do Sweet Shop- an area institution since 1903.
Everything we tried at Fugetsu-Do was as yummy as it was beautiful!
There was no way I was leaving the sweet shop with out a to-go bag, and fortunately Nate was on the same page, so we brought home all kinds of these goodies to taste and enjoy! I'll definitely be sure to hit thie spot up again this year near the holidays, what gorgeous, tasty and unique gifts!
Next up we hit Wakasaya for a spicy tuna sushi bowl and yummy miso soup with udon noodles! The boys ordered some beers and we got to check out an interesting way that food is ordered in Japan to keep things moving quick and efficiently during the busy lunch rush hour- all the menu items were posted with a photo, which I think is awesome!
The next two stops were so delicious I got a little distracted by the EATING and did not note the NAMES of the shops! EEP! So....I guess you are just going to have to GO on the tour and find out! Right?! Trust me, it's beyond worth it.
These red bean paste filled pieces of heaven have been made here, just like this for many, many years- and hopefully it always stays that way. I could've eaten 10 of these, but we'd already had SO much food, one was perfect! Hot, fresh and sooooooo delicious!
Next, we stopped at sweet-shop/ mochi spot for MOCHI-LATTO- instead of being filled with ice cream, like the mochi ice cream you'd find at Trader Joe's, these were filled with yummy gelato- the coconut was my favorite- but the Oreo and green tea were pretty awesome as well! The coconut got "smashed in my face" too fast to show up in a photo...that expression, by the way, is one of my favorite souvenirs brought back from Tanzania by Shayne & Erica. Feel free to enjoy using it as much as I do.
For the final stop and the wrap up of this awesome adventure, I'm going to spill over into a second post. So stay tuned, and in the meantime, if you live in or near (or plan on visiting) Los Angeles, head over to http://www.sixtaste.com/ and get signed up for any one of their delicious & informative tours, we're planning to take them all so if you are nowhere near L.A. feel free to virtually enjoy the yumminess here.