Story courtesy of City's Best
By Lien Ta
Ask your sweet pants this: Do you want to travel Southeast Asia with me? Tonight? She'll say yes, we promise, and you can promise her a culinary gastro-tour of at least the following countries: Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and the Philippines. The secret is: You don't ever need to leave Downtown's Little Tokyo to do all of it.
The latest It restaurant to unveil itself in Little Tokyo isn't serving Japanese fare; instead, chef Bryant Ng, formerly of the acclaimed Mozza empire, is embracing his own heritage and cooking up traditional Singaporean meals. Begin with a few snacks of Peanuts & Anchovies, Spicy Chicken Livers & Toast and a few satay sticks of lamb belly. Then, dive into some comfort-Chinese meals like Kon Loh Mee (rice noodles, choy sum, ground pork, shrimp and char siu) and Hainanese Chicken Rice -- a childhood favorite of mine -- steamed leg and thigh of chicken over rice that is cooked in chicken stock (pictured, at right). You'll notice a few Vietnamese gems too, like Catfish Claypot and Vietnamese Iced Coffee -- you have the chef's Vietnamese wife to thank for that, the lovely proprietress that will check up on you throughout your sure-to-be-unforgettable meal. 114 S. Central Ave.; 213-620-1840 Photo courtesy of City's Best
Lovers, you're in Little Tokyo; get yourselves a couple of mochi ice cream balls. You're likely familiar with the frozen nibbles, available in a supermarket's frozen aisle near you; over in Japanese Village Plaza, however, you can try the real deal in its freshest form: Mikawaya, inventor of the mochi ice cream, slings a variety of flavors like chocolate, coffee, red bean and the ever-reliable green tea. 118 Japanese Village Mall; 213-624-1681 Photo via Flickr: cogitoergodoleo
Nearby is Wurstkuche, a wonderful watering hole of Belgian beers and exotic sausages. While glorified hot dogs might render more of a European vibe, a couple of Asian-inspired fare make an appearance on the menu: The exotic sausage that is the Filipino Marharlika, encased sweet pork with natural seasonings, plus the Thai Peanut dipping sauce for the addictive French fries. Because, after all, a couple of hoppy beers and Downtown hipster record-spinning will surely trigger a second appetite for the night. 800 E. 3rd St.; 213-687-4444 Photo via Flickr: skampy