Saturday, August 12, 2006

LA Tofu Festival
(I went on Saturday, but not on Sunday).LA Tofu Festival is a yearly gathering of tofu lovers everywhere - so I figured, hey, since I like's the place for me! I'm amazed at how many other people also paid homage to the white block of soybean product. I am definitely not the only person who appreciates the tofu and the flexibility of this amazing food product - there are so many variations of tofu based foods that I love! And I think it's really nice how tofu lovers are everyone - meat eaters, veggie and vegan.

The festival itself was a little bit of a scramble to try to attend. Parking was a mess, luckily we snagged a spot at a nearby parking lot for$7 (a bargain, as it seemed the lot that we usually park at for $5 on any other day trip to Little Tokyo had raised their prices to $10 for the festival.) and was confronted with a MASS of people waiting in line to pay for admission. Yikes! The line moved fast, but we weren't pleased at the disorganization (no clear lines to stand in? People cutting everywhere? Chaos and confusion when a line that had no clear signs was told that it was a line for Will-call and credit card only?) I gave them the benefit of the doubt and elbowed our way through. Once inside, we passed by our friends over at King Kong Shrimp, selling awesome T-shirts (yes of course I got one :D)

We then surveyed our options at the food tents. They used a "scrip" system, basically a system like you have back at school carnivals: you buy tickets at the front, and food costs a certain amount of "tickets", depending on what you get. I know this is an easier system for them but I HATE ticket based systems. I lose track of tickets, there's a ticket left over so you HAVE to try to find something for "1 ticket" or whatever, even though you're full, but you have to spend it because you don't get your money back for unused know THOSE kind of frustrations. In any case, Owen and I did quite well and planned accordingly...this time around we spent the right amount of money on "scrip". LA tofu festival escapes my wrath...this time.
The crowds! The mass amount of crowds! The more popular food tents had lines blocking the whole walkway, which made it difficult to maneuver around. Also, people who were interested in some sort of food would just wander over to the front, and then CUT. I HATE people who cut, and KNOW they cut but played it off like they DIDN'T know. You know EXACTLY WHO YOU ARE out there!! Anyways there was a lot of that happening, but I didn't feel like pushing around old ladies (I don't really push around old ladies at all). What's also scary is that people are pushing around with huge sharp skewer sticks in their hands, nonchalantly walking around and not looking where they're going. Skewer stick in the eye is one of my fears. I think that's an awful way to lose an eyeball (second most horrible way, having it popped out of your head by Uma Thurman. Then having your eyeball be squished under her toes. That's just salt in the wound - or, I guess, eyeball between the toes. Gross.) Now to the food! First up was Tofu Skewers - Teriyaki flavor. These were really tasty. The texture and consistency of the skewer had a good bite to it, and the teriyaki flavoring was mild - thankfully not too overpowering and sweet. This was a great way to warm up to all the tofu we were about to eat.Next up was BBQ tofu (on the left) and fried chicken wing with rice. The BBQ tofu was just okay. Nothing special, I don't know why they didn't ladle this over rice. I don't think it was hot enough either - temperature and spicy. It had been sitting in a huge serving buffet tray which wasn't kept at a warm enough temperature. Plus, there wasn't enough KICK to it, then again, I can eat wasabi like I eat ice cream, (no joke) so I might need to lower my standards. The fried chicken wing was pretty good but not worth 2 tickets (1 ticket = 1 dollar, so 2 bucks for a fried chicken wing and a little bit of rice is insulting to me.) Not horrible but definitely not great. Give me my dollar back you ticket hounding harpies!
Next up was Silken Tofu with Balsamic vingarette reduction with strawberries, fresh mint and candied corn flakes (far as I could tell.) This was also just okay - even though it had so much potential. Each ingredient was nice and fresh - strawberries freshly cut, mint juilenne-chopped on top of the tofu, the candied corn flake things were a nice sweet touch. But the tofu itself - just not flavored enough. When taking a bite of this, it was TOO much tofu beancurd taste, not enough sweet, which I think is what this dish was trying to do. It was too many conflicting flavors and not enough to tie it all together. This was the goods. Chicken skewer and Garlic Tofu. This was amazing! Freshly grilled chicken, neatly skewered, lightly sauced and cooked so it got those nice grill marks on the outside. The garlic tofu was lightly fried with a faint hint of garlic - I wouldn't say it satiated my garlic fix but it was sufficient and filling. A good combination and worth the "scrip".

This we passed over initially because of the long line, but I dared to brave it because it looked so good and I was craving some curry. This was Tofu Cutlet with Curry Rice. Dang was this good! The tofu was so tender and breaded so well, that I almost couldn't tell the difference if they had given me pork tonkatsu instead of tofu! They also gave it a nice touch by drizzling tonkatsu sauce over it. The curry was the standard curry they have at Curry House places, and gave everything great flavor. No complaints here!
We also got Barley Tea from the curry place. We mixed this with a Strawberry Boba we got that was too sweet (sorry forgot to take a picture of that) and made a makeshift tea and juice boba drink. It was perfectly refreshing after mixing it, and not too sweet. The way we like it!!

Lastly, we got a delicious treat - a place called Woo City had high quality ice cream. Owen got a 5-Star Chocolate scoop, and I got a green tea scoop. This was SO good...the best way to end the Tofu Festival! Aside from my usual gripes, it was fun and I liked trying a variety of food!

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