Food festivals pop up almost every weekend in Los Angeles, but Delicious Little Tokyo sets itself apart. Midori Mizuhara, director of Go Little Tokyo, which organizes the festival, says, “It’s not a parking lot with a bunch of vendor booths. That can happen anywhere. Delicious Little Tokyo is a personal peek into these historic businesses, inviting the public to kind of go behind the veil, go into the businesses. Meet with the sushi chef or the mochi maker that’s been there since his childhood, and really learn from those practitioners, those cultural gems of the neighborhood.”
Now in its third year, the festival features tastings and demos, culinary workshops, live performances, and other cultural experiences. Regina Alcazar, a project manager with Go Little Tokyo, says two of the restaurants participating for the first time this year are Kasih and Sake Dojo.
“Kasih is an Indonesian-fusion restaurant and they’re really trying to bring Indonesian food into the L.A. market. Their food is amazing, and they’ll be doing a demo and tasting of two of their favorite dishes—sambal, which is a spicy dipping sauce, and satay ayam, which is a grilled chicken skewer.” (The tasting is Saturday, July 21, at noon, and admission is $10.)
Saturday at 2 p.m., Sake Dojo will hold a food and sake pairing. “Sake Dojo is by the same owners as Far Bar, which is kind of a neighborhood staple now in Little Tokyo. Sake Dojo has more than a hundred sakes that they’re offering,” says Alcazar. (Tickets are $20.)
Alcazar is also looking forward to the Little Tokyo Historical Society’s walking tour on Saturday at 11 a.m. She says, “Bill Watanabe leads a guided walking tour on food in the neighborhood, including where the first sushi restaurant was in the neighborhood, where the first ramen place was. There are some food items that were founded in Little Tokyo that are now popular across the United States—and it’s things only he really knows and shares. It’s always fun to go on this tour with him and learn new things.” Mizuhara adds, “The tour really gets at the heart of what we’re doing in a way. This neighborhood is so significant nationally for being this place where Japanese-American culture thrived and was really introduced to L.A. and America.” (Tickets are $15.)
This year, Sanrio will be part of Delicious Little Tokyo for the first time. Shop at the Sanrio store in Japanese Village Plaza between noon and 4 p.m. on Saturday, and meet Gudetama, the lazy egg. The artist who created him is flying in from Japan for the event and will be autographing drawings for customers who spend $50 or more.
Check the Delicious Little Tokyo website for a full list of the day’s events, which include a food photography workshop, a bento box demo, a ramen demo, a donut-decorating workshop, an art-making workshop called “Play with Your Food,” and more.