That's the sound a jury summons makes when your spouse drops it off in front of you at the dinner table. Jury duty. Again. While most people dread and complain about jury duty, I secretly love it. Not only is it a free day off to read a book, there's also the famed 1 1/2 hour LUNCH. Not just any lunch, but a free-for-all of choices among one of Los Angeles' most ethnically-diverse areas. Within walking distance of city hall lies Little Tokyo, Chinatown, Grand Central Market, and a whole bevy of restaurants and bistros. When I lived downtown, I hated it and complained about the food. Now that I'm out of downtown, I miss it and remember how great the food was. Go figure.
I decided that today was Little Tokyo day, so I headed a few blocks East to the Japanese Village Plaza. First stop: Mikawaya Sweet Shop. Mikawaya gained quite a bit of mainstream popularity with the introduction of their mochi ice cream back in 1993. The Little Tokyo outpost creates fresh mochi ice cream and much more... rows and rows of wagashi (Japanese traditional sweets), some American pastries, and (surprisingly?) some outrageously good gelato. I was an Al Gelato woman before, but Mikawaya converted me.
To get to the gelato, you have to go towards the back of the store. You'll know when you find it because it looks like 20 stainless steel bins of heaven. Fluffy, pretty, soft, yummy gelato and sorbet.
Mikawaya has the subtlety of flavour down pat. Their gelato is not overly sweet, so the taste really shines through. They have a wide range of flavours, many of which you don't find in a typical gelateria, like kiwi, passion fruit, green tea, and green apple.
My favourite is apple pie gelato, which tastes exactly like homemade apple pie. Alas, they didn't have it today, so I chose green apple and coconut.
The coconut I've had before and it was just as good as last time. Green apple was a new one for me - the first thing I noticed was a strong sour-appley taste, almost like a Jolly Rancher, but fresher. If you love sour apple, you simply must go try this gelato - it's insanely good.
I'm not a big mochi fan, but people who are tell me Mikawaya's are great.
I decided to try a few today. The one on the left is orange flavoured, the one on the right is traditional red bean mochi.
Hmm. Yeah. Still not my thing. But for people who like it, I think you'll be pleased with Mikawaya.
118 Japanese Village Mall
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Hours: Mon-Fri, 9:00AM - 6:00PM, Sat-Sun, 9:00AM - 7:00PM
Next up: Sushi Gen!
I was fortunate enough to try Sushi Gen a couple months ago and I've been longing to return ever since. Just little old me at the bar this time.
First, hamachi, which tasted buttery and super-fresh:
Next, hotate (scallops), which were not as good as last time, but still really good. I think I missed the lemon and salt that Kazu garnished them with.
Maguro, which looks hot pink in the photo, was actually more of a bright red. This was a bit of a disappointment (although far better than most sushi spots). The fish was a little soggy, and didn't have that rich flavour you long to sink your teeth into.
Uni brightened things up a bit. I love uni, and this was fresh and sweet.
Albacore was heavily sauced, but tasty...
And finally, aji, which was hands down the best dish of my lunch. Really fresh-tasting, with that strong, assertive flavour that only aji provides.
Total bill before tip: $38. A veritable bargain!
422 E Second St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:15AM-2PM, 5:30PM-10PM
I did a little photography on the way back. Most people like to shoot the Frank Gehry architecture, me, I likes me the Caltrans building. It looks like something out of the future.
Saturday, May 27, 2006