Downtown Los Angeles skyline around Pershing Square

Here is my first food report from the US while on tour with the dance group MAU. Nothing fancy, just miscellaneous observations on what I find as I travel across this great state…

In a nutshell, I had a week of very uninspiring food in Downtown LA. Broadway was the place of glamorous stars and movie premieres during the 1920s to the 50s but now it’s a wide treeless street of faded glory. It’s a primarily Hispanic area with shops selling cheap clothes, jewellery and toys, dark and grungy Mex cafes and salubrious diners such as Taco Time and Carl’s Jr.

Haute couture of Downtown LA

We landed at 6.30am and our first breakfast in LA was huevos rancheros at a Mexican place set up like a fast-food joint. It actually wasn’t that bad, and we were entertained with truly awful Spanish melodrama on the telly as well.

Breakfast of huevos rancheros, rice, beans and tortillas on plastic plates with bendy forks

Sad to say, the closest place next to the hotel for breakfast was Starb***s (I’m too embarrassed to write it in full), so the easiest option every morning was a granola and yoghurt (with sugar and gelatin – yech!) from said establishment and maybe a “protein pack” of floury apple, crinkly grapes, boiled egg, muesli bread, cheese and peanut butter.

Other non-highlights include spaghetti at Sbarro and the greasiest churros I’ve ever had at El Pollo Loco. (However, the sweet potato fries were passable.)

The “healthiest” stall at the Grand Central Market next to the Million Dollar Theater was the Japanese one, and there was a juice place as well.

MAU at the Million Dollar Theater, Broadway (built 1917), hosted by Redcat

Architectural interlude: the most impressive building in Downtown is Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Right opposite the theatre was the Bradbury Building, famous for its appearance in Blade Runner

The best meal in Downtown was at Daikokuya in Little Tokyo, which included fried spicy tuna, salmon roe bowl, tempura and ramen. It has a good rep; we waited 25 mins for a table but queuing can be 90-min wait.

A trip into Hollywood showed us a cleaner but more surreal part of town. Overpriced cafes abound; but we settled on a bright-looking Mexican place and had decent shrimp tortillas and lashings of raw from the salad and salsa bar.

On our last morning in the City of Angels we splashed out on breakfast at our hotel – eggs bene with mushrooms. The plates came out looking like a drag queen’s face after a night on the tiles! But a little seasoning made it a pleasant culinary end to LA.

Kyoto Grand breakfast - this face has seen better days, but tasted better than it looked.

Unfortunately we didn’t make it to the coast – Venice Beach or Santa Monica –  where the vibe would have been more tasteful. After our remorse at the state of food Downtown, someone replied on Facebook that there is good food in LA – you just have to know exactly where to go and be prepared to spent 2 hours in traffic getting there. ‘Nuff said. Let’s go San Francisco!