On whole, I find utensils pretty overrated. Since the foods I enjoy the most are the ones where I get to toss the spork aside and use my hands, I’ve decided to do my first 5 Foods Friday post – a weekly themed list of my top 5 fave foods/places to eat. This week’s theme: Best things in LA to eat with your hands. Before eating, please wash those hands first, your cell phone probably has more bacteria on it than a gas station toilet. Yummm. So with that said…let’s eat!
1. Umami Burger
This place is definitely an LA staple and on any given night you’ll find crowds of people waiting to get the infamous Truffle, So Cal, or Umami burgers into their hot little hands. For blue cheese fanatics, the Port & Stilton burger is a must. The juicy beef patty is loaded with Stilton blue cheese and caramelized onions – which serve as a perfectly sweet contrast to the sharp, full-bodied cheese.
If the rich and amazingly flavorful burgers aren’t enough for you, Umami also has housemade, crispy cheesy tots, onion rings and they even make their own ketchup, roasted garlic aioli, jalapeno ranch and spicy diablo sauce. Wash it all down with fresh watermelon juice or a deliciously sugary glass bottled Coke.
Umami Burger: Juicy Beef (ground in-house), Roasted Tomato, Parmasean Crisp
2. Cielito Lindo: Taquitos
Located on the corner of Downtown’s Olvera Street Marketplace, this famous little stand sells the most incredible taquitos I’ve ever tasted. They are freshly made to order, pan fried to a perfect crisp and topped with an amazingly flavorful salsa verde and avocado sauce. The true flavor of the taquitos and fresh tortillas aren’t drowning under heaps of shredded lettuce, they look simple but once you bite into one, the sauce perfectly enhances the taquito’s juicy meat and crispy yet soft texture. At $6 for a tasty combo plate, Cielito Lindo really can’t do any wrong.
3. Haru Sushi & Roll Cafe: Lava Stone & Albacore Onion Roll
I know you “technically” should be using chopsticks for anything sushi related, but sometimes the rolls get just a little too big and crazy, and I’m forced to view these delish pop-ems as more of a finger food. Haru is undoubtedly one of my favorite spots in LA for a sushi feast. The Lava Stone (crispy rice topped with spicy tuna, black caviar and avocado), Albacore Onion roll (spicy tuna roll covered with albacore, topped with lightly fried onion strips)
and the Yellowtail and Jalapeno Carpaccio are my consistent go-tos on the menu.
4. Mendoncino Farms: Korbuta Pork Belly Banh Mi
This place has superb sandwiches and super fresh ingredients that never fail to impress. Along with the DTLA masses, my favorite sandwich here is the Korbuta Pork Belly Banh Mi. It’s not a completely traditional Vietnamese Banh Mi, but this version does great justice to the original. The sandwich has tender braised and caramelized kurobuta pork belly, housemade pickled daikon and carrots (which balance the subtle sweetness of the pork), cilantro, cucumbers, jalapenos and chili aioli all on a grilled ciabatta. The only drawback is that once you’ve experienced all these explosive flavors on your palate, you’ll crave this sandwich on the daily.
5. Fugetsu-Do Bakery: Mochi
Even though I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, I have to give a shout out to Fugetsu-Do Bakery in Little Tokyo for their amazing Mochi (small gooey Japanese rice cake deliciousness). This 100 yr-old Japanese bakery in Downtown LA remains family owned and makes the best Japanese desserts – no Mochi compares to the lightly sweetened treats made here. Their specialty is the strawberry mochi with a crunchy peanut butter filling. Even though this flavor combo may sound a little off, the amazingly chewy texture of the outside strawberry mochi perfectly compliments the soft peanut butter filling. Plus, you get to hang out with possibly the sweetest woman in the world…
Now go roam the LA culinary streets and dig in! It tastes better that way. Stay posted for 5 Foods Friday next week! Also feel free to leave theme suggestions if you so dare.