The gorgeous LA River Gardens is the perfect place for a food event, providing several courtyards, a big grassy area for blankets and plenty of shade. The food at Taste of the Eastside varied from very light dishes like refreshing spring peas from Cafe Birdie, containing snap and English peas, pea hummus, pea broth, mint, and hazelnut granola for a little crunch. Hakka-style Mochi rolled in black sesame or in peanuts was also light and not too sweet. One of our first bites was a ponzu salmon poke with edamame from Sweetfin, which we had recently enjoyed and were pleased to see again.
We’re just not happy anymore unless we get a regular ramen fix. I’m not going to say something blasphemous like ramen is replacing tacos as LA’s late night food of choice, but it is in the neighborhood. Thank goodness Ramen Tatsunoya was there with their Koko Tonkotsu, with a broth made from pork back, fat, umami paste, onion and garlic-infused oil with noodles and char siu pork.
Fat Dragon served their flavorful “Dragon Ball,” like a rice ball with Chinese sausages,scallops, shrimp, shiitake, sesame, and cilantro. Same Same Thai burned my lips off with spicy chicken Laab with minced chicken, mint, cilantro shallots and chili. LOTS of chili. Luckily, Pazzo Gelato was there to put out the fire with exciting flavors like Sea Salt Caramel Bourbon and Mango Sorbet. We also fell in love with Ample Hills Creamery, which had both an horchata ice cream and a gooey butter cake ice cream.
Cote Est Bistro, Bar, & Vins’ made a Nicoise salad with Fijian albacore, egg, haricot verte, wax beans and fingerling potatoes. It was the perfect plate for a warm Los Angeles day. They also seared the albacore to various levels of doneness, so there was something for everyone.
We know we shouldn’t play favorites, but Eagle Rock Public House always has something delicious for us, and Chef Jerry Su did not disappoint with a hearty pulled pork sandwich. Bon Vivant, who have previously served a mouthwatering lamb chop in an unexpectedly delicious chocolate sauce, drew the crowds with a falling-off-the-bone beef rib and real Southern baked mac and cheese.
Diablo’s Pork Belly Taco with caramelized banana and Thai relish served with street corn was up to their usual high standards. They went head to head with Barbrix’s Pork Belly with Treviso walnuts and tart apple puree. It was one of the best dishes of the day; pork and apples are such a classic combination. There was even more esquites from Brack Shop Tavern. You can never have enough Street Corn.
Little Dom’s was in their element with meatballs in a Bolognese sauce on grilled garlic bread. All’Aqua served the very Italian Polpette alla Norcina (Butcher’s Meatballs), Braised in tomato sauce and whipped housemade ricotta. Momed also offered meatballs, theirs using a mixture of beef and lamb, garnished with pomegranate seeds for more of a Middle Eastern vibe.
Meanwhile, back at the vegan camp, Daw Yee Myanmar Corner was serving tofu colored a brilliant yellow, and Jewel went for some copycat vegan with pickled carrots standing in for lox, coconut bacon and Buffalo yuba, which was such a nice change from Buffalo cauliflower.
It was a beautiful day under the trees, with people dancing with toddlers in their arms. Taste of the Eastside may not be the biggest food event, but it is certainly the friendliest.