Fickle – Downtown L.A. (Vlog)

My friend and fellow food adventurer, Evan, had prompted me to suss out some new places for us to try. We like to keep it fairly local, and without too much trouble, I narrowed it down toThe Boiling Crab and Fickle. I put it to Evan, and The Boiling Crab won out for its proximity to our area. We fell in love with TBC, but that is another story for another day. Fickle had been weighing on his mind, and we wound up giving it a go once our schedules aligned. Though I’m wearing exactly zero make-up, my hair was cute and the lighting was amazing so I felt the inspiration to film another Tastemade episode. Enjoy!

Here are a couple of snaps I posted on Instagram:

Buffalo Cauliflower

The buffalo cauliflower is an item on their special happy hour menu only. On the weekends and after 7pm weekdays, it’s unavailable. It’s made with “tapatio buffalo sauce”, which Evan enjoyed but I thought tasted more like Tapatio rather than a buttery buffalo sauce (like Frank’s or Duff’s). It’s still good, especially with those generous blue cheese crumbles. Mmmmm!

Roasted Bone Marrow
Ginger Soy Lacquer | Citrus Basil Gremolata | Pickled Daikon Salad

My favorite bite of the night, hands down. Though anyone who knows me well enough is not surprised in the least, because I have been writing sonnets about my love for sucking the literal marrow out of life for quite possibly forever and a day. The gremolata added a layer of flavor and texture I never knew I was missing before, but now need to incorporate the next time I decide to roast some bone marrow at home. The daikon salad was refreshing and just the juxtapose to round out the dish.

Bacon Wrapped Quail
Mushroom Risotto Filling | Spinach | Pine Nuts | Cranberry Demi Jus


Evan and I zeroed in on that quail as soon as our eyes fell on the mains portion of the menu. Quail is not something I’ve attempted to cook yet, but not for lack of interest on my part, just a touch of nervousness I have when dealing with poultry. Also, I don’t really remember that I want to work with it until I am wandering the butchery at Bristol Farms, but then I have no idea what to do with it and you know what? Stop hounding me. I’ll get to it eventually; for now let me enjoy the occasional quail dish. Yeesh. This dish had everything going for it: a bed of greens, my favorite nut in the nuthouse, a savory delicious sauce to sop up the meat and spinach with and stunning risotto. My one quibble? The bacon was a touch salty for my palate. Otherwise, a damn tasty dish.

Though Fickle didn’t completely blow our minds, Evan and I were overall impressed and know we have another spot to check out when the seasons (and therefore the menu) changes. Best of all, Fickle is located just one short block away from the Metro Gold Line!

362 East 1st Street
Los Angeles CA 90012
Tel: 213.628.1888
Happy Hour: Monday-Friday, 5p-7p

Fat Spoon (Downtown Los Angeles)

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo

NOTE: Fat Spoon no longer exists. Boohoo!

This post is rather late, as I recently learned that dear Fat Spoon closed its doors at the end of November. How did I find this out, you ask? Hankering for some delectable tonkatsu curry, I merrily ventured off to Little Tokyo after an early morning doctor appointment in downtown Los Angeles, did a little shopping in Marukai, and walked over to Fat Spoon…where I came face to face with a sign declaring the sad news that they had closed. In my most Shatner-esque moment, I flung my arms akimbo, groceries hanging heavily in each hand, threw my head back and cried, “Nooooooooooo!”

The note told of re-opening, however, and having a sister restaurant, Toranoko, that I have yet to patronize and therefore cannot comment on. I was lying in wait for another visit to Fat Spoon so I could have more dishes to comment on, but alas, who knows when that will be. My hope now is that this post will encourage others to give the gang at Fat Spoon another go if and when they re-open elsewhere. I just hope wherever, whenever they reopen, the restaurant remains close (or closer) to me!

I first came across Fat Spoon at the L.A. Street Food Festival this summer, where their beef tongue curry woke up my worn out tastebuds and reminded me of a love I once had for Japanese curry. Over the years, I have grown disenchanted with J-style curry, though, as I increasingly found it to be a salty, gloppy mess covering up poorly executed tonkatsu or chicken-katsu. So when the Fat Spoon curry crossed my path, I made quite a fuss over them in person and they rewarded my enthusiasm with a $20.00 gift certificate. Sweet.

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo
Daikon Condiments

Flash forward a month or so when I decided to meet up with one of my ‘net pals and I suggested Fat Spoon. Only problem? Totally forgot my gift card. D’oh. Still, the prices weren’t overwhelmingly awful, so we stuck with Fat Spoon for lunch.

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo
Tarako ($10)
Salted cod roe, cream, dried seaweed & chopped green onion

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo

I was waffling between this, the uni pasta and the tonkatsu curry ever sine my companion agreed to dining at Fat Spoon. Figuring I would use my gift certificate for the Uni Pasta another day, I went with the Tarako. The perfect blend of salty and creamy, this dish was comfort incarnate. When I was a kid, Fettuccine Alfredo was my favorite, FAVORITE dish and had I grown up in a home with Japanese flavors, I like to think this dish is what I would have called my favorite, FAVORITE!

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo
Pork Cutlet (Tonkatsu) Curry ($10)

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo
Curry Sauce

My friend Ana ordered this signature dish (I credit my non-too-subtle brainwashing attempts, including quoting previous reviews claiming this to be the most moist pork cutlet ever) and happily tucked in. We both admired the plating of this dish, keeping the meat, rice and sauce separate to let the diner measure out how much of what they want. This curry is very authentic; the hint of natural sweetness from a fruit such as an apple was subtly evident under the mildly spiced earthy curry. Oh, and the pork? Totally lived up to the hype.

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo
Baked Sweet Potato (compliments of the chef)
vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce

The chef sent this out for us to gorge out on. Gorge we did, too, after securing our eyes back into their sockets (too gross? Sorry; wanted to illustrate how surprised we were by the gesture and the simple genius of the dish itself). Sweet, but not sugary, this dessert had our spoons competing for another scoop. Yum.

Ah, Fat Spoon. I had an incredible time visiting you and only snagged but a sampling of your delicious fare. My Christmas wish is that you will reopen in 2013 (somewhere easily attainable for me, She Who Does Not Drive) and serve up your flavorful, moderately priced albeit powerfully addictive food once more.

Stay Updated on Fat Spoon news:
Fat Spoon on Facebook

My Love Letter to Little Tokyo

I am currently stranded in Philadelphia, desperate to get home and away from Hurricane Sandy. In the meantime, please enjoy these photos I took in “research” for my fall article for The Place: Los Angeles, titled Sushi Three Ways. It is part of a larger article, Revisiting Downtown L.A. – part two of my continuing love letter to Downtown Los Angeles.

Toro - Hama Sushi
Toro | Fatty Tuna

Monkfish Liver - Hama Sushi
Monkfish Liver

Oyster Shot
Oyster Shot

Kampachi - Amber-Jack - Hama Sushi
Kampachi | Amber Jack

Uni - Hama Sushi
Uni | Sea Urchin


Unagi - Hama Sushi
Unagi | Sea Eel

Sunomono - Hama Sushi

Ikura - Hama Sushi
Ikura | Salmon Roe

Ika - Squid Sushi with Shiso Leaves
Ika | Squid with Shiso Leaves

Yellowtail Collar
Yellowtail Collar

Frances Bakery & Coffee (Little Tokyo, Los Angeles)

Frances Bakery and Coffee
My friend Loren and I share the same birthday week (My birthday is the 17th of this month, hers is the 20th). On her day off last weekend she invited a small group to get together at her favorite tea and cake shop, Frances, in Little Tokyo. I’ve been to Frances’ before with Loren and I remember the pastries being the stuff of dreams. With my camera in tow, it was finally time to document this delightful, delectable sweet spot.

Situated in the unassuming Honda Plaza near Alameda and 2nd Streets, it’s easy to passover Frances as well as many of the hole-in-the-wall eateries and businesses. Moving on to flashier, more attractive store fronts might be tempting but you would be doing yourself a disservice. As soon as you enter Frances you’ll hear your mom, a teacher or Mister Rogers reminding you to never judge a book by its cover.

Frances Bakery Goods

Along the left-hand side is the counter, rows and rows of baked goods and sweet treats ready for immediate consumption. There are a handful of full sized tarts, cakes, mousse and pies available to take home or you can place an order in advance. Frances also provides homemade jams and preserves.


The decor is a mix of Rococo flair and Parisian cafe. A glass counter case behind our table was chock filled with antique teacups from all over the world. I kept staring at them until I couldn’t help but ask for the price listing. I can’t help it; I’m a teacup collector. Alas, too rich for my pockets – but beautiful nonetheless.



Loren and her friend Jocelyn ordered a pot of tea each. Alas, my singular quibble with Frances is their poor choices in decaffeinated tea. All that was available to me was lemon and chamomile. As I’m hardly ever in the mood for either, I stuck with water. As for our tea time treats:

Chocolate Creme Brulee Cake
Loren – Chocolate Crème brûlée Cake

Strawberry Cake
Jocelyn – Strawberry Cake

Myself – Neapolitan (strawberry & custard in layered puff pastry)

We were unanimously pleased with our choices, with only Loren being unable to finish her cake as it was just too rich. I loved my Neapolitan and would order it again in a heartbeat.
Also, I decided to splurge on macaroons:


(clockwise) Lavender, Chocolate Hazelnut, Strawberry, Sesame, Green Tea

Unfortunately, all but the chocolate hazelnut were just not up to par. They were excessively sugary, which overwhelmed most of the flavoring. Strawberry, in particular, tasted too artificial. Loren agreed with my conclusion, but we theorized that this must have been a bad batch as she has had successfully balanced macaroons from Frances in the past.

Fracnes Bakery & Coffee
404 East 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012-4209
(213) 680-4899

Public Transit: Little Tokyo station on the Gold Line light rail
Hours of Operation:
Weekdays: 7am-8pm
Saturday: 8am-6pm
Frances Bakery on Urbanspoon