Monday, April 9, 2012

Loteria! Grill, Singapore's Banana Leaf & Bob's Doughnuts @ The Farmers Market, The Grove LA

Take Shelter??

When the weather is beautiful, (as it most usually is in LA) we love to bebop over to 3rd and Fairfax to frequent our favorite stalls and consume a plethora of delectable goodies.  The Farmers Market is a permanent enclave of stalls that serve great food as well as market items like fruits & vegetables, meats, poultry and fish as well as other gourmet products such as candies and culinary goods.  We find something new every time we're there and it makes for a great afternoon in the sun.

You know, this market has a definite throwback feel to it; part European with the Bancarellas filled with fruits and produce to temp your culinary imaginations.  It would be a dream to purchase your family meals everyday at a market like this.  But it's also quintessentially Los Angeles from an era gone by - food stalls serving the humblest yet most imaginative of international, 'fast food'.  Touristy? Maybe, but who wouldn't want to spend good time and money to the independent businesses who provide fresh, quality goods in a time where drive-thrus dominate our self-induced hectic lifestyles and saturate our laziness for instant gratification...

Click below to

So here's a few of our go-to venues that we frequent; it's not a complete list, but it's the food that we immediately crave when we're in the area!

Loteria Grill!

We have gone to most of the food stalls and have honed in our favorites: one such venue is the delicious Loteria Grill, one of the few Mexican establishments I consider worthwhile. So I've been limiting myself to just a few menu items that I actually like, here the Tacos are my favorite!

First of all, we start off with an order of Chips and Salsa, they are really think and crunchy here.  The Salsa is pretty amazing as well.

The Tacos are worth getting here: on the left, the Pollo en Pipian Rojo; Chicken that's been cooked in a Spicy Pumpkin Seed and Peanut Sauce wrapped in a soft hand-made Corn Tortilla.  Topped with Chopped Onion-it's a pretty decent Chicken Taco dish-not too many things going on so it's on the light side.

The Taco on the right is the Conchinita Pibil: A slow roasted pork cooked in a Banana Leaf with condiments of Pickled Red Onion, Chile Habanero and Lime on a Corn Tortilla.  I love the tenderness of the Pork, and it's got mouthwatering flavors packed into a little Taco.

But the favorite of all time has got to be the Tacos de Camaron; Shrimp Tacos serviced with Fresh Avocado, Crema Mexican, Chopped Onion and Cilantro with your choice of Spicy Morita Salsa or Fresh Tomatillo Salsa.  The taste of the grilled shrimp combined with the creaminess of the avocado and crema is undeniably satisfying and I love the fact that the portions are small, (I hate having such a big platter of food overabundant with sauces, melted cheeses, sour cream and guacamole; it makes you want to rolf)...... Anyways, the point is, I like small portions when it come to Mexican..

Rating (Out of Five Stars)

Food:            3.25
Service:         2.5*
Ambience:    3.75

*It's self serve, you pick up food and find a table.  They do have bussers, tho so I gave them 2.5

Singapore's Banana Leaf

So given the opportunities to eat as many different ethnic foods as possible, we finish up at Loteria and head on over to the Banana Leaf.  It's just a little off the beaten path, (Loteria is in the center aisle and its easily visible) but you know the out of way places are the hidden gems.  And that's exactly what this place is; they have so many dishes that are exquisite, it's reminiscent of being at a Singaporean Hawker Stall at night.  With different countries represented here, it really is the best of all worlds.  And although we only got one dish this time, I can recommend to you several items, (I'll update this section the next time we go and take more pictures).

As for apps,  The Curry Puff is amazing, these little fried puffs have an amazing texture and with the curry filling, it makes the perfect starter.  Or if you into something along the same lines but more intriguing, may I suggest the Roti Paratha: Grilled Indian Bread with a Curry Dipping Sauce. The Bread is yummy and the Curry has a deep, robust curry kick to it that makes the dipping process so much fun!!

As for the Mains, there's just as many choices here; today, we ordered the Mee Goreng with Chicken.  This is totally a favorite dish, as the noodles and chicken along the the Indian spices makes this savory and deeply delectable.  Served on a Banana Leaf, it's got the feel of the real thing.  Along the same lines is the Nasi Goreng, which is more Singaporean style fried rice, equally good.

Another dish that we recommend is the Rendang Beef, which has Spicy Coconut, Chili, Ginger and Beef in an Indonesian Curry.  It's a full dish, so order it if you're really hungry-the spices fill you up.  The last dish we love is the Laksa Soup, (with Chicken) it's a noodle soup that perfect on those cold days where you feel like warming up-the coconut curry is the perfect blend of sweet and spicy, and the noodles in the broth round out the carb requirement for your daily caloric intake!

Always get the Limeade, I got hooked on it in Singapore; it balances out the hot spicy food with cool sweet lime citrus!!!

Rating (Out of Five Stars)

Food:            4
Service:        2.5*
Ambience:   3.75

*Read above

Bob's Coffee & Doughnuts

Okay normally we don't get dessert, (oh, who am I kidding, we ALWAYS get dessert)!  But today we decided to venture our and get our after-meal sugar concoctions at Bob's Doughnuts, which boasts on its from billboard the Best In LA. We had to see for ourselves..

We asked the counter what was good, she said the original glazed and the New Orleans style Beignet.  So we had both.

I have to say while the Glazed was good, it doesn't compare to, like a Krispy Kreme.  And although i hazard to guess that Bob's was around long before Krispy made it's way out to the West Coast, I still got to compare Apples to Apples and say Krispy reigns supreme.

As for the Beignet, I am impressed the it's assemblage is that of the true New Orleans tradition, diamond shaped with powdered sugar on top.  It was satisfying yet forgettable.

Loved that we tried it, and if we were here in the morning, I'd probably get a coffee and doughnut here. But as a dessert, I'd skip it and go somewhere else.....

Rating (Out of Five Stars)

Food:           2.5
Service:       2.5*
Ambience:  3.75

So stay tuned for the Part 2 where we talk about The Grove and the non food components of The Farmers Market!!!

Loteria Grill on Urbanspoon

Singapore's Banana Leaf on Urbanspoon

Bob's Coffee & Doughnuts on Urbanspoon