Monday, February 27, 2012

Enter the Dragon

Welcome back fellow comida enthusiasts and happy year of the dragon. I started out this year with the humbling experience of witnessing the birth (still in the year of the rabbit) of my lovely daughter. Nothing can really quite prepare you for this moment, and while both terrifying and amazing, what's really astonishing is that all preconceived notions melt away and you somehow know just what to do. This is not to say it's easy but it's fascinating to see how we're truly hardwired for this stuff...very humbling indeed. Anyway, enough pondering there's comida to discuss. I decided (especially with a bambino at home) to keep my almuerzo adventure simple and instantly bolted to the perfecto spot for a modest bowl of noodle soup.
The Grand Central Market was once a bustling open air market situated in the bottom of the Homer Laughlin Building and located close to the Angel's Flight Railway. Opened in 1917, it catered primarily to wealthy Angelenos who would take the funicular down from Bunker Hill to indulge in world class shopping. Today, the Market still maintains some tasty tenants including the 'Blade Runner-esque'  China Cafe. I absolutely adore this place. It's the kind of fondness that even though the comida isn't mind blowing, you love it just the same. We all have one or two of these hangouts loaded into our restaurant arsenals. The cafe itself is basically a rectangle lined with stools (if they're occupied choose one and wait) with a kitchen in the center and an enormous ventilation duct that disappears into the vast ceiling presumably snaking it's way outside.
The menu here consists of what I like to call 'World War Two era' Chinese-American dishes with classics such as: chop suey, lo mein, egg foo young, and chow mein. I ordered a steamy bowl of pork wonton soup: bbq puerco, greens, juicy wontons, scallions, and flour noodles floating in a basic but functional broth.
In response to current downtown demographics, the comida at China Cafe is created to satisfy an increasingly Hispanic palate. This means you will be happily served copious amounts of limon wedges, oily chile sauces, and if you so desire, cheap bottles of ice cold cerveza. All in all, the kind of culinary crossover that makes someone like myself smile from ear to ear. Next time, I'll pay the fare (25 cents) down from the hill and imagine how it must have been years ago to head to the Market and seek out that extra special (yet spicy) something.