Tuesday, July 15, 2014

'Hood #44: Koreatown for POT, a Roy Choi restaurant

Today I visited the neighborhood of Koreatown to have lunch at a new Roy Choi restaurant called POT (complete with marijuana dispensary-inspired logo). Although perhaps not so appropriately I brought Kara, the 13-year old daughter of a friend to a place where the menu has a picture of an old lady smoking a blunt.  Ah well, we ended up at POT because she had a hankering for a noodle joint. (Haha...I said joint.) And at least there weren't any brownies on the menu. In my defense, "pot" really refers to the fact that most of the food comes in a big pot meant to be shared.

We were originally aiming for Ma Dang Gook Soo, which got good reviews on Yelp. When we got there, however, it was perhaps a bit TOO authentic...people jammed at tables into a small room with a Korean woman yelling at us to look at the menu outside, which was sparse on the English. So... we moved on.

POT noodle of the day: a vegetarian spicy noodle, delicious!
POT is straight-up Korean food, located in the chic Line hotel on Wilshire Boulevard. They have a "noodle of the day" which was only $11—a bargain considering this is a Roy Choi place (the chef famous for starting the food truck movement and technical advisor on the movie, Chef).  I loved that you got faded, grandma-ish bibs to wear and there was a full roll of paper towels on the table to use as napkins. Lunch came with a bowl of slightly spicy bean sprouts and a weak, iced tea that reminded me of accidentally drinking water that someone had put a cigarette out in, but it kind of grew on me.  

I've never had Korean noodles—they were pretty darned good. Sweet, with a kick. These came with some kind of sweet radishy thing, mushrooms, edamame, green beans and kimchee.

Another highlight: along with your check, you get an awesome trading card (apparently there are several versions... come back to collect all!)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

'Hood #43: Echo Park to See the (Stolen) Lotus Flowers

The neighborhood of Echo Park is probably best known as the home of Dodgers Stadium, but since I'm not a sports fan, I had to find something else to do there. Today I went to see the lotus flowers as part of a weekend lotus festival.

I was chatting with a friend who filled me in on a bit of history (which I confirmed via an LA Times article) about the Echo Park Lake lotus plants. They're believed to be direct descendants of plants imported from China in the 1920s, but by three years ago for reasons unclear the lotus flowers had entirely died out. It was, however, rumored that years prior a man had (illegally) stolen a shoot, cultivated it and had been selling the offspring. The team restoring the lake followed up on the rumor... and in the end, the guy who stole the clipping sold lotus blooms to the city for $30,000 and everybody's happy.

Anyway, Echo park is in northeast Los Angeles.  I'd wondered if I should have picked an ordinary day (vs. a festival) to see the flowers to avoid crowds—but as luck would have it, there was a World Cup game happening so it was lively, but not jam-packed.

There are several beds of lotus flowers in the lake, and they really are quite spectacular. The lake and park feel like a calm oasis with downtown LA in the distance.  We went for a pedal boat ride (only $10 for an hour), which burned off the calories in the delicious Vietnamese chicken salad I bought off a cart that was there from Gingergrass restaurant in Silver Lake.

Mary Jo and me on Echo Park Lake
Just as we were leaving, my friend reminded me we were going to see the Angelus Temple—a huge baptist temple built in the 1920s that sits at the edge of the park—but we were out of time so that'll have to wait for another day.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

'Hood #42: Theater as Tupperware Party in Westwood

I've been waiting for just the right thing to do in Westwood since it's so close by, and today I found it: Dixie's Tupperware Party, which is both a play and an actual Tupperware party at the Geffen Playhouse.

(Westwood, btw, is only a couple miles from where I live in Palms and is home to UCLA, which I've been to many times for various writing classes.)

Before the performance, I met my friend Sandra for a nosh and a drink at TLT Food, a new, casual restaurant (counter ordering, community tables) that was born from a food truck called The Lime Truck...and in typing that, I just now get why it's called TLT.

I ordered a Mr. Potato Taco ($3) and a beet/arugula salad ($5) and they were really quite amazing.  I'd go back there again in a heartbeat. (The original plan was to go to CPK when I stumbled across this online—I'm glad we tried something different.)

Then on to the Tupperware party, which featured the lovely Dixie—coming straight to us from a trailer park in Mobile, AL—in a mix of bawdy humor and product demonstration as she interacted with the audience and pitched the hell out of Tupperware.  (She, btw, is a he, and as I understand stays in his Dixie alter-ego through interviews, awards, etc.) Set on the smaller of Geffen's two stages, it was a cozy audience of about 50 or so people, four of whom sat right up on the stage.

I didn't buy anything — truth be told I'm trying to switch over to glass storage —but I did have a jolly time.