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Dessert

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Ktown Night Market

Steamed Buns and K-pop Fun All in One. 

A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline and came across an ad for something called, Ktown Night Market. “Back by Popular Demand,” it said. Popular demand? Well, if it was exciting enough to make a comeback, certainly it’s something I needed to check out. The days came and went, and I teetered back and forth as to whether or not I’d actually go. Basically, the level of dough in my bank account was dictating my overall desire. Sure, the event itself was only $5 at the door, but with food trucks and stalls galore, I knew there’d be some money dropping throughout the evening.

After spending the day-of venturing around Le Brea, I finally decided to make the trek 7 blocks east and see what all the fuss was about. I rolled up fairly early—around 6pm—so the crowd had yet to gather its full force. I took this as an opportunity to get my fill of food, because I was sure the lines would start forming at any moment (I was right). The funny thing about stalls and trucks, especially at festivals, is that they can vary rather dramatically when it comes to service.

For instance, the first truck I hit was called, The Chairman. It’s a mobile version of the bun and sandwich eatery that has locations in DTLA and San Francisco. I ordered a Spicy Chicken steamed bun, which comes with Panchan pickles; and a Black Pepper Brisket Bun that’s topped with fennel salad and lemon-ginger vinaigrette. The service was speedy, the food was incredible and I even chatted with the staff for a few minutes about the NBA Finals. All in all, it was the type of experience you want to have with a food truck. However, later in the evening I hit a truck called, Okamoto Kitchen. Billed as Japanese comfort food, it’s definitely an unforgettable experience. The truck itself is bright red with a French Maid Manga character emblazoned across the side, while a TV screen rotates through Pokemon-style screens, complete with 8-bit video game noises and music.

When I walked up the line was a little long, but I decided to test the waters and wait. After all, a long line is usually the sign of a good spot. Unfortunately, what I came to find was that it was actually the result of severe mismanagement. When I finally made it to the window, I ordered myself a nice combo of a Chicken Curry Sandwich (a large piece of Korean fried Chicken, topped with gouda cheese, shredded green cabbage and a special curry sauce, housed in a warm brioche bun) and a Green Tea Parfait (matcha-infused custard, topped with sweet red bean paste, fried dough and whipped cream).

Nothing too extravagant, I thought. The problem came after about 10 minutes of waiting. I saw them place my items at the window, but they never called for me. Instead, the person serving food set it to the side for another 5 minutes. Curious, I waited to see how things would play out. I soon realized he was not giving me my order, because the people in front of me had not received their orders yet and… well… I guess things have to go in order?

It was extremely odd to me, especially given that one of my items was to be served hot and the other cold (read as time sensitive). Once I finally received my food though, I have to admit that it was extremely delicious. Was it worth the 30+ minutes I waited for it? Probably not, but in that moment I certainly enjoyed it. From there, I hit up Street Churros and had my very first churro ever—no, really! And then ventured one truck to the right for some gelato. Both were pretty good, but nothing I’d ever write home about.

Once I was filled with food, I went and checked out all of the clothing stalls around the festival. I guess they were curated by something called, The Silk Show? I’m completely unfamiliar, but I did manage to snag a few good deals from some pretty cool brands. The timing was perfect too, as the sun began to set and the evening’s musical acts took to the stage. So, I grabbed some bubble tea from Boba Bear and spent the rest of the evening bobbing along to some Korean rap groups and a few K-pop favorites. Sure, I didn’t understand a word they were saying, but a good beat transcends all languages.

All in all, the evening was really fun. It was nice to get out and explore the culture of my neighborhood a bit. I do live in Koreatown, after all. My only complaint is that I wasn’t able to hit up more of the food stalls. Obviously, it wasn’t because I couldn’t pack away the food. It had more to do with the fact they were cash only and I couldn’t make out any of the menus. There were some questionable meats being used (at least the types I’m used to) and I was deathly afraid of accidentally purchasing duck’s bill or tripe. I think I'll save those for next year. 

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Donut Friend

Hello Donut, My Old Friend.

Have you ever had one of those days, when things were going so wrong you decided to dive into the cookie jar for a little sugarcoated peace of mind, only to realize you’ve soon devoured every sweet treat in sight—including a few packs of gum and some leftover granola? I had one this past weekend.

It started out like any other day. I woke up, fed my cat and parked myself in front of the TV for a little morning Netflix bender. But, before I even had a chance to brush my teeth, things started to go very, very wrong. First, my cat decided to have a mild freak out, which ended with a glass of water cascading across my notebooks and laptop. Then, I once again scolded myself in the shower, due to the shit plumbing in my apartment. And finally, to top it all off, my morning ended with a text informing me the cookout I had planned on attending that afternoon had officially been cancelled.

Hand. Meet cookie jar.

For most, a little sugar would seem like a rather fitting way to deal with this rash of rapid-fire disappointments. Well, luckily for normal people, they don’t have to deal with the crippling sugar addiction I’ve been cursed with. One cookie turns into two, which turns into ten and before you know it, I’ve just said, “Fuck it,” and given up on the day. So, as you can imagine, things started to deteriorate rather rapidly. And when there are no more sweets left within the confines of my studio apartment, I realize it’s time to look outward.

That’s when I remembered I hadn’t visited one of my all-time favorite LA establishments, Donut Friend, in quite awhile. Aiming to correct this horrid mistake, I threw on some clothes and began my journey to the northeast. As I sat in traffic, I began to contemplate my choice of ingredients; carefully plotting out the right blend of sweet and salty that would satiate my hunger and finally put an end to my cravings—at least for the time being.

Sure, I could go in and order one of their pre-made donuts. But, that would be far too easy. And besides, I’d probably end up ordering one as an appetizer anyway. I prefer to go the customized route to ensure I hit all my favorite flavors.

With my mind made up and the store in sight, my mouth began to water before I even crossed the street. For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of visiting this cozy little establishment, I’ll simply describe it as a confectionary paradise. As soon as you enter the front door, you’re greeted with a large glass display, filled with row upon row of gooey, chocolaty, nut-covered, marshmallow-filled, mind-numbingly perfect rings of goodness.

As an expert connoisseur, however, I quickly passed up this delightful display and headed toward the register to place my order. Then, in a moment of panic, I realized I had left my glasses in the passenger seat of my car. The menu was a complete blur! How on earth would I place the perfect order? The one I had so carefully concocted in my head on the drive over? Could it be done? …I had to try.

A traditional glazed donut with banana, chocolate, peanut butter, caramel sauce, marshmallow and pistachio…

Success! I had overcome the moment of heart-stopping terror and recited my order without missing a beat. Now came the best part—watching them actually craft my ideal donut. Sure, one might think it a fairly mundane task to place a list of ingredients into and atop a donut. But in the hands of an expert, it becomes a thing of pure beauty. Don’t believe me? Watch as they ever-so-gently swirl a thick coating of rich chocolate glaze around the top of a freshly baked donut and you’ll quickly change your mind.

After they assembled my soon-to-be piece of heaven, I made a judgment call (One I had earlier predicted) and ordered a S’morrissey for good measure. A chocolate cake donut filled with toasted marshmallow and topped with chocolate glaze and graham cracker crumbs, I knew it had my name written all over it from the second I entered the room.

I gathered up my newfound confidants and took them outside for a little bonding. After finding a seat nearby, I quickly introduced them to my mouth and then my belly. Yet, unlike most sweets that I tend to shovel in by the handful, these particular confections called out for a more reserved approach. So, with knife and fork in hand, I slowly dissected them, savoring each and every bite as if it were my last. And before too long, I had finally reached that very moment; one I had dreaded, but one I was so overjoyed to have experienced.

Once finished, I took in some people watching before disposing of my utensils and venturing back to my car. Along the way, I momentarily found myself bobbing my head to the beat of a passing car’s bass-heavy sound system. It was in that very moment I realized that while the day may have started out in a less than ideal manner; it certainly ended in the most flawless of ways—a belly full of donuts from a place that’s truly a friend indeed. 

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