Los Angeles Day 1: Korea Town and Grand Central Market

Since we were on the west coast in beautiful British Columbia visiting family and friends, we decided to take a slight detour south to spend a week in sunny California, specifically Los Angeles. It was just a short 3-hour flight and we were at the busy LAX. It was definitely humbling to see how big the airport was compared to “big” airports in Canada, like YVR and YYZ. It took us around 30 minutes just to get to the gate from the runway! It took another 15 minutes by shuttle to get to the car rental place offsite.

Our trusty little Yaris

At Hertz, there was another long line up just to pick up the car. Luckily they had express booths that we used to expedite the process. It was very bizarre though since it wasn’t fully computerized. It required us to speak with a “live agent” off-site using a video call format. Then we chose our car and were checked out of the lot. We didn’t have too much of a choice so we embarked on our adventure with our cute little Yaris. It’s not too big but was sufficient for our purposes since we had once again travelled with carry-ons only, which fit into the tiny trunk.

First impressions

First impression of LA: the weather was perfect. I, for some reason, was expecting really disgustingly hot weather but there was a constant breeze so I did not sweat one drop. Now I understand why people love LA so much. Coming from Vancouver, I can now finally pack away the jacket and cardigans that I’ve been wearing and pull out the shorts and dresses that I haven’t been giving too much love. Using the Waze app to avoid traffic, it took us around 45 minutes to get to Korea Town. We bypassed the highway which seemed to be bumper-to-bumper even on a Saturday afternoon. Parking is definitely not the easiest with limited street parking, confusing signs and many strange double parking stalls in the parkades.

 

CoCo Curry, take 2

By this time, we were finally feeling hungry after our Richmond Night Market adventures last night. We found out that they had CoCo Curry Restaurants here in LA so we had to try it again since Simon and Martina loves it so much but I did not feel the same way when I had it in Tokyo. I ordered the chicken cutlet with regular spice and rice, plus mushrooms and cheese. Aaron had the pork cutlet with level-4 spice and a extra hardboiled egg. It was too bad they did not serve the “onsen egg” here like they did in Japan. The service was pretty fast and our meals arrived in no time. It did not seem like a lot of food when we ordered but it definitely filled us up. I felt my meal was ok. It was nice to have the melted cheese in my curry. Aaron’s level-4 spice curry was definitely more tasty yet tolerably spicy. The egg was perfectly hardboiled but I think I would’ve preferred the “onsen egg” for the extra creamy texture. Overall, I was underwhelmed once again. Perhaps I am not just not a fan of curry.

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Pork cutlet curry @ Coco Curry. Photo credit: Aaron.

Hipster Coffee

We still had some time till our check-in time for our apartment, so we went to grab some iced americano at Go Get Em Tiger. It was pretty interesting to see that by driving just 10 minutes, you go from the super Korean part of town with Korean restaurants, malls and supermarkets, to a pretty hipster part of town. The ambience is totally different. Apparently, this is the place to hang out as it had quite of few of Aaron’s must-eats all in a row. The coffee shop itself wasn’t too big but there was a large patio outside which was shared with McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams next door. (This was also on Aaron’s list but we did not have enough stomach space to eat this for now). I was very excited to see that they were selling coffee beans from a Vancouver roaster – 49th Parallel. I’m patriotic like that.

Naps are nice

We finally checked-in to our very chic service apartment. I was in food coma at this time and even the iced americano was not enough to keep me awake, so I took a nice nap while Aaron started researching things to do in LA. I came in and out of sleep as Aaron tried to show me what events are happening today. Interestingly, there was a beer festival as well as a tacos festival but these would have ended by the time I fully woke up from my nap. There was also a Korean Night Market but we figured we couldn’t do night markets two night in a row. We decided to visit the famous Grand Central Market instead.

Grand Central Market

We were still not too hungry after our heavy lunch so we decided to walk around the check out all the food options first. It wasn’t a large market, but I was definitely impressed by the variety of food choices. It ranged from Thai food, vegan ramen, Salvadorean food, seafood, pasta, grilled cheese, and of course, many taco stalls. We decided to just chill out at the Horse Thief patio with a beer first to work up our appetite. This was the perfect place to people-watch while soaking in the lovely weather. I really enjoyed my IPA from Boulevard Brewing Co. – The Calling. It was super grapefruity and hoppy. I was disappointed to find out it wasn’t local, so we decided to also get a local IPA (Wolf Pup Session IPA) from Golden Road Brewing to bring along on our food journey through the market. It was definitely lighter in taste compared to The Calling.

To start off our food adventure, we had the carnitas gordita from Ana Maria. This chubby Mexican pastry was cut open, then stuffed with pork carnitas and creamy veggies. The contents were overflowing so it is served on a plate and a fork with a pile of napkins on the side. When biting into this dense pastry, it reminded me of biting into a hundred layers of tortilla. The creamy sauce was very tasty. I am not a fan of pulled pork, which the texture reminded me of, so I did not enjoy the meat part that much.

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Carnitas gordita from Ana Maria @ Grand Central Market. Photo credit.Enter a caption

Next, we enjoyed some tacos from the most popular tacos place in this market – Tacos Tumbras a Tomas. We read lots of amazing reviews regarding the trompitas (pig snout), so we had to try that. We only ordered one taco but it came with 4 taco shells as well as a whole pile of pig snout. It was definitely a good amount of food for $3.50 USD. The pig snout was so soft and fatty, I enjoyed it a lot more than just regular pork carnitas. The taco shells were the more traditional corn tortillas, which I am not used to. I actually prefer flour tortillas since the lighter taste does not mask that of the filling of the taco.

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Trompitas tacos from Tacos Tumbras a Tomas @ Grand Central Market. Photo credit: Aaron.

We were pretty content at this point but we decided to get some dessert before we left. We tried the Earl Grey Shortbread and Sea Salt Cream and Cookies at McConnell’s (flashback to the same Ice Cream place we wanted to visit earlier today). I have not had such creamy ice cream for a long time. To me, this is what real ice cream should taste like. Both flavours were rich, yet not too sweet. The Earl Grey scoop had real chunks of short bread. It was truly amazing. This brings an end to our pretty laid back first day in LA, as it should be in such a laid back city.

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Earl Grey Shortbread and Sea Salt Cream and Cookies ice cream @ McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams. Photo credit: Aaron.
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