Asian Night Market
Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival 2012
800 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Dining date: 8/10/12
Los Angeles Food & Wine is in its second year, already one of the largest (if not the largest) food festivals of the year in LA. With 40+ events over 4 days, it seemingly has something for everyone from tasting events to cooking demonstrations to wine tastings to some strong power lunches. It’s a sibling festival to Pebble Beach Food & Wine, one of Northern California’s marquee food festivals (which just completed its fifth year).
This year I attended two of the events: Asian Night Market and the Saturday Grand Tasting. Night markets seem to be all the rage in this city recently, with the 626 Night Market and Lucky Rice Night Market also happening in the last few weeks.
Tickets were $75 ($125 VIP), inclusive of all food & drink, with almost 30 chefs/restaurants represented and dozens more wineries/spirits/bars. While more expensive than competing night markets, this event uniquely offered access to a number of non-LA chefs, including Ming Tsai, Edward Lee, Susur Lee, and Charles Phan.
The event was largely outdoors, somewhat a concern in the midst of a sweltering heat wave. However, the sun set pretty soon after the event opened and I didn’t think it was that bad. Plus, it was particularly night being out under the lights at night.
Keep hydrated was key all evening, and smartwater was well-stocked all evening (seriously, I’m amazed how often events like these run out of water). This is exactly what I dream of when I’m hungover.
Each chef/restaurant had their own booth, serving up their interpretation of an east Asian street food dish.
Ming Tsai (Blue Ginger) tea smoked sirloin with mala oil
Roy Yamaguchi (Roy’s) chicken, jade pesto, cherry blossom rice
Jet Tila (The Charleston) five spice pork belly bun
Bryant Ng (The Spice Table) skate, sambal, coconut rice
Roy Choi (Kogi)
Sam Choy (Sam Choy’s, Pineapple Express) loco moco
Robert Magsalin (Fukuburger) honey sesame fried chicken, okinawan donut holes
Mohan Ismail (RockSugar) short rib rendang sliders
Edward Lee (610 Magnolia) kimchi rice cakes
Jorge Mijangos (Nobu LA) tuna tacos and wagyu tacos
Hiroshi Shima (Sushi Roku) fluke sashimi
Thi Tran (Starry Kitchen) malaysian chicken curry, lychee panda cotta
Fluff Ice 18 hour lamill cold brew, condensed milk, raspberries, espresso beans
Andrew Zimmern (Bizarre Foods) pork ribs, spareribs sliders
Ricardo Zarate (Mo-Chica, Picca) grilled tuna, asian pesto, camote al hilo
David LeFevre (MB Post) green tea soba, lotus root, shiitake mushrooms
Huge Tree Pastry beef roll
Michael Ginor (Lola) duck slider
Charles Phan (Slanted Door) banh nam, dried shrimp and pork
David Myers chili crab wontons
Yu Bo (Yu’s Family Kitchen) sichuan pork dumplings
John Lechleidner (WP24) malaysian chicken feet, dan dan chicken dumplings, peking duck roll, ovaltine fudgesickles, passionfruit push pops, watermelon rose icies, galia pandan icies
Eddie Wong (Mr. Chow) walnut shrimp, red bean sauce noodles
Duff Goldman (Charm City Cakes West) ginger cake, green tea ice cream
A host of wines and spirits were involved, but I especially appreciated the lineup of cocktail bars serving up ice cold drinks all night long.
If I had to choose one main highlight, it was probably one of the most unassuming dishes I tried – the 18-hour cold brew Taiwanese shaved ice from Fluff Ice. The rich, deep flavor of the coffee really came through; almost like a really good coffee ice cream, albeit much lighter. Condensed milk provided some creaminess and sweetness, while whole espresso beans added additional coffee flavor and texture. While it was the perfect thing for a warm evening, I would’ve eaten this anywhere.
Jet Tila’s pork belly bun consistently had one of the longer lines and for good reason. Tender pork belly with a sweet glaze was sandwiched in between an exceptional warm, delicately crispy bun. Sam Choy’s loco moco was another highlight for me. It was a huge portion of hamburger patty, rice, gravy and a fried egg that tasted very well together with a good balance of flavors. Susur Lee’s puff pastry with duck sausage (unfortunately I forgot to take a picture) was another good one, with a very light, flaky pastry being a difference-maker. Host Andrew Zimmern’s pork ribs were huge, meaty, delicious things that I wanted to rip into teeth-first (though I expected something a little more bizarre, I don’t think he or I were ready for, say, stinky tofu).
I thought this was a lot of fun and probably a good deal as one of the more approachable LAFW tasting events at the $75pp price point. Yes, it’s more expensive than an evening in the San Gabriel Valley, but it’s a whole different type of experience altogether. Though I have one request: can someone please make boba milk tea next year?
Note: This was a sponsored event.