On the Town: Downtown

By Ariane Lange

    I didn’t go to MOCA.
    I intended to go to MOCA. It was on my itinerary. With their $6 flat rate, I even parked in the MOCA parking lot.
    Then I walked to the restaurant I wanted to eat at and was told to come back later when the imagawayaki machine was cleaned. I was forced to reorganize my plan. Then I found out that City Hall doesn’t let you go to the top on weekends. 
    My daytrip had gone horribly awry.
    However, once I got back to Mitsuru Café (117 Japanese Village Plaza Mall) with my somewhat strapping downtown bodyguard Jonathan Lerner ’07, all my troubles melted away. Their imagawayaki, basically a red bean pancake, has that kind of power. The place is a dive, but I pretended not to see the big shiny B hanging in the window and was ever so pleased.
Once I had my pancakes, it was hard to resist the urge to eat those fluffy little things sending an enticing aroma wafting up out of that paper bag. Impossible, in fact: Lerner and I ate two of the four enroute to my next destination, a rooftop garden at the Kyoto Grand Hotel, formerly the New Otani Hotel.
    In the elevator at the Kyoto Grand (120 South Los Angeles St.), there is a button marked “Garden/Restaurants.” Pressing that button took me to a patch of serenity in a bustling metropolis. 
    There was a sign that told me not to bring outside food to the rooftop. I ignored it. It was totally worth it. It was a Saturday around noon, and there was no one else there. The initial snafus of my daytrip were eclipsed. Oh, the serenity. Oh, the lax security, which didn’t bat an eye when two teenagers popped in with paper bags full of imagawayaki. 
    After we had our way with the red bean, some mochi was in order. That led us to Mikawaya (118 Japanese Village Plaza Mall), an ice cream and mochi place. I had the plum wine ice cream and Lerner got the mochi, which I took the liberty of helping him finish.
    Because of the Asian culinary theme of the day, it seemed only natural that my next stop would be Olvera Street. 
    After a detour that took us through Union Station (which was none too photogenic once we got past the lobby), we made an appearance at Olvera Street for window shopping, a disappointing search for a shirt that said “Los Dogers” (they didn’t have Lerner’s size) and a disappointing search for the Pueblo Gallery that, when we went in, turned out to be a restroom. 
    We picked up some fabulously delicious Mexican hot chocolate in a cool vegetarian place (go figure) called Casa de Sousa Coffee House (19 Olvera St.). The music playing was “post-punk by way of Mexico,” Lerner told me. That statement made me really happy I called him to come with me. That and the protection I like to think he offered from the bicycling gang I’m pretty sure we saw pedaling by us later that day.
    Oh, downtown. You card.