329 E. 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Last night we met A & J in Little Tokyo for some cheap ass Japanese fusion at Fat Spoon from Michael Cardenas. Cardenas also brought us Little Tokyo stand-outs Aburiya Toranoko and The Lazy Ox Canteen , The Lazy Ox having made in onto J. Gold's 2011 99. It houses the space that used to store East, the ever so slightly grungy discount sushi bar with special salmon and tuna nights. We are sad to see East go, one of the random non-corporate non-chain spots that make Little Tokyo an adventure (especially when the lines at Daikokuya are too long, which they almost always are, and which J. Gold took off the list this year). I bird-walk. If I had to give up East (where my own personal bamboo sake cup lived, but I didn't really go to very often), I am happy to give it up for Fat Spoon. Fat Spoon is a win.
These prices are great! So thrilled to have someplace new and nearby to eat where I won't have to even consider my wallet. I really wanted to try the uni pasta, but I am doing the Paleo diet with a more than moderate degree of fidelity so pasta is off my personal menu for now (although I did have a few bites of everything on the table, so this would be considered my cheat meal for the weekend). Really, there is nothing more boring than hearing someone talk about their diet. Oh, yes there is. Hearing someone talk about their weight or their own opinions incessantly. The latter of which is basically what a blog is, feel free to log off if you're bored.
Above, see the salads. These are entree salads, large enough for a meal for one or excellent for sharing family style. A couple dining at a table nearby shared one salad and one pasta dish, which makes perfect sense.
The pastas also are pretty large. D has a monstrous appetite and put his pasta in its place. Ang took a lot of hers home. One of the reasons I am loving Fat Spoon this morning is the intriguing ingredients on the regular and specials menus. Uni, salted cod roe, shiso, pancetta, pomodoro, kobe beef, jidori chicken, beef tongue, squid ink, and so on and so forth.
And a list of east/west sides, irresistible. French fried potatoes with curry salt is definitely going to be on the table at my next visit, and I will plan ahead to make it a cheat meal (I already know what my main course is going to be).
Uni croquettes. Perfectly golden fried, with a slightly bitter dipping sauce.
The combination of the creamy uni croquette filling and crunch was foiled perfectly against the dark savory/sweet bitterness of the dipping sauce. Inside the croquette was definitely uni-esque but not overly so. I think uni texture and flavor can be easily diminished, when I play with it I don't like to do much to it. But these were good, nevertheless.
Ang ordered the Hijiki salad, with hijiki (seaweed) and renkon (lotus), eda mame, daikon, red onions and so on in a soy ginger dressing. A huge hit with this one. Again, don't be deceived by the photo, this was huge. We all had heaping small plates of this salad as a starter. One of the best dishes at the table, lots of crunch and flavor.
I'm a little meh on the pumpkin soup. Luxuriously rich, this is clearly made with heavy cream and lots of it. I don't really have anything against a dairy based soup. I don't eat them out usually or cook them at home, but I like the way they taste. The problem with this one is that it wasn't super flavorful. It tasted pumpkiny, but not overtly earthily so. And there wasn't anything interesting to spice it up, sweet or savory-wise. But it wasn't bad. Creamy pumpkin soup.
J was torn between the tonkatsu curry and the tonkatsu sandwich. Our server tried to steer him in the direction of the curry, but J was leaning toward to sandwich. Again, another huge portion. J did not finish it, merely because of the size, despite really liking the flavor. He did not finish his meat, ergo he did not get any pudding.
Leave it to D to order the same old same old when faced with an interesting menu. Just like his brother. Seafood pasta in pomodoro sauce. He chowed like it was his last meal. Hmph. He is going to start going to Fat Spoon in Little Tokyo when I am out of town for work just for to eat this dish. I foresee this, mark my prophesy.
Short rib curry. So good, so spicy. Not too spicy, but definitely packs a punch. J thought the curry on his sandwich was very spicy, so if it was the same curry, it's a perspective issue. Nevertheless, this was rich and flavorful and I would happily eat it again. I ordered it with a simple side of steamed veggies instead of rice, and next time I think I will ask them to pour the curry over the veggies. I didn't think of it til just now but with that beautiful curry covering it, I would definitely finish all my veg.
For my palate, salted cod roe pasta was the dish of the evening. Tarako pasta with cream, a pile of nori and lots of green onions. A traditional recipe doesn't call for cream, but the cream in this added a lovely richness. Salty, rich, with that little crunch of the roe...omg I am in love with this dish! Not only am I going to return for this dish when I really need a giant plate of pasta, but I am going to recreate this at home, tonight, using spaghetti squash. This is good, if you go to Fat Spoon, you or someone at the table must order this and eat.
The meal was not flawless, but it rates a solid better than average. Because of the casual atmosphere, the low price point, the intriguing mixture of ingredients and preparations, I will be back and often. This is going to be commonplace dining for FST and company. Fat Spoon, you had me at bunny placemat.