Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Downtown Dining 3rd Edition

Little Tokyo and Literary Libations

The Curry House
The Little Tokyo Plaza is a three story building stacked with Japanese restaurants. On the first story, Marukai Market has unsweetened jasmine and green teas, and yummy chocolate ├ęclairs in the refrigerated section. Vegan-friendly Shojin, on the third story was recently featured in the Los Angeles Downtown News. But my personal favorite restaurant is The Curry House. You won’t find sushi here; this restaurant features newer models of Japanese cooking. Try the pork “katsu”, which is fried breaded pork smothered in spicy brown gravy-like curry sauce, served over white rice. Their curry ingredients read like an inventory of a grocery store’s spice section. If you haven’t had “Calpico” water, give it a try (it’s sort of like soda, but not carbonated). The sweetened iced green tea is another treat on a hot day. As odd as it sounds, they also have Japanese spaghetti, ranging from normal seafood marinara spaghetti, to Tarako & Ika Spaghetti (cod roe and squid). Lunch menu prices are from $7-$15, leaving you enough cash to get some…

Gelato! Just outside of the Little Tokyo shopping center is the Piccomolo Italian Ice Cream shop, with around 33 flavors of gelato. You get to pick two per cup or cone (I recommend chocolate banana and Peanut butter cup). Not only are they delicious, but the gelato is made fresh in-store daily, using only natural ingredients with no preservatives or chemicals. It’s lower in fat, calories and sugar than either Baskin Robbins or Coldstone with a softer creamier texture since its served at a higher temperature than American-style ice cream. If you really want a guilt-free treat, try the fat free fruit gelatos, but for me, I’ll take the rich Roasted Almond, Tiramisu and Hazelnut milk gelatos. 2 scoops for $3.25.

Friday night at The Standard Rooftop Bar is quite an experience. The swinging 60s retro design, the sun setting just beyond their long pool, and the scantily clad servers bringing pricey drinks and mini-burgers to you while you attempt to gracefully lounge on your waterbed in a dress without flashing the middle-aged men ogling you… well, it’s a rite of passage. The service is good, the view is fantastic, and the big TV behind the bar playing classic films like How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying won me over despite the wind gusts, the leak in the waterbed, and one drenched dress as a result. There's no cover charge before 7pm, and with a small group of friends out for novelty and nightlife, you could do worse—but you could also do better at…

The Library Bar, just around the corner from the L.A. Public Library (6th and Hope) is like an English pub or (an alcoholic) gentleman’s study. If you order food, it comes from Wolfgang Puck’s L.A. Bistro next door, which serves a passable pizza (not quite Pitfire’s) and excellent herbed garlic fries. The Library Bar is known for carefully selected beers (try Brasserie Dupont Saison, and the chocolaty Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter), but also serves fun martinis like the Willy Wonka and the Sun Also Rises. Happy hour is from 3-7pm, M-F.

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