Monday, February 02, 2009

Special Foodventure #102: Spitz (Little Tokyo)

Whenever I head to Little Tokyo (or any of the satelite Japantowns in L.A.) I automatically think I should be eating Japanese food. So it was a bit funny when I first received an invite to check out Spitz, a doner kebab store situated right in the center of that neighborhood. So now I can have falafels, doners, pitas here too? But hey, it's meat roasting on a vertical spit and I can't say no to that, moreso if it was complimentary, and it was a nice excuse to meetup with bloggers Caroline and Sarah.

I met up with Caroline at next door bigger-and-better American Apparel (another sign Little Tokyo's a-changing) and we headed into Spitz around 6:30 p.m. before the others. It was Wednesday, we just got out of work, so we made a beeline for their bar and their beer/wine menu. Their rotating selection featured some pretty eclectic brews (Stone Brewing Co.'s Levitation Ale, Craftsman Heavenly Hefeweisen & Holiday Ale) and the wine list is modest but interesting (Syrah and Verdejo from Spain, Gruner Veltliner from Austria, Merlot & Malbec blend from France, etc.) We also love the fact that beers can be served in canas (about half a pint glass) for $3-4 each, for those who just want "a little beer" (I can see this being great for lunch hour) or folks who wants to put together a sampler tasting of their own.
As tempting as the beer and wine selections looked, our eyes already honed in on the final item on their menu: the cardamom spice sangria made with apples, oranges and lemons; that definitely hit the spot. It was wonderfully refreshing but with a considerable oompf, with the wine adding lushness and body and all the flavors from the fruits and spices marinaded within; an adult kool-aid if you will, more sophisticated and complex, less sugars and artifical colors. I dig it.

While having our tasty sips, we also took the time to survey the restaurant, which has an interesting urban-industrial feel with metals twisted into chandeliers and wall sculptures (we were later informed by Beth, Spitz's PR rep, that they were all salvaged from scraps.)
Pita Strips
While waiting for Sarah, Beth placed an order of lightly-fried pita strips with hummus dip. The hummus was alright, but I was impressed with the pita strips - not too greasy and it had a wonderful crisp but still a tender, chewy interior. And definitely more interesting, and probably healthier, than fries.
Sweet Potato Fries
Of course, when Sarah arrived, that didn't stop us from ordering a basket of shoestring sweet potato fries for the table. Good but I still prefer the more unique pita strips.
Doner Kebab Wrap
While Sarah decided to be healthy and order a falafelite salad, the rest of us decided to order their signature sandwich: the doner kebab in a lavash wrap. Again, I appreciate that the beef-and-lamb combination was substantial and flavorful without being heavy or gamey, and I liked the flavor layering between the warm slightly-spicy meat and the cooling tzatziki sauce. The veggies were fresh and crunchy too.

Caroline and I splitted one of sarah's falafelites, spicier than most -- which I like -- and there were actual chickpea pieces in there that made for an interesting textural contrast.

The food overall is great, but I am more amazed by the entreprenurial minds of the founders, Bryce Rademan and Robert Wicklund, two twentysomethings who took inspiration from cuisine abroad and turned into a successful business venture (the Little Tokyo Spitz is the second store, the original one is in Eagle Rock near Occidental College, where they graduated from.) Certainly gives me a little hope in my own culinary dreams.

But overall, Spitz's food is well-prepared, tasty and even wholesome. It's certainly a unique eatery in the area, but I'm sure locals welcome it, it doesn't cost a whole lot (most stuff is around $10) and a nice change of pace from all the Japanese eateries. And to make it even better, I hear a Happy Hour is already in the works . . .

What Do Others Say?
- Pleasure Palate went to the Eagle Rock location while in a foodie funk
- Eating L.A. liked that it injected variety into the neighborhood, and the interesting beer selections
- Angelenic thinks it has potential to be a hot spot
- Both locations got the four-star treatment from the Yelperocracy
- SinoSoul, on the other hand, ain't feeling it

Spitz Little Tokyo
371 E. 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Spitz on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Wow, you have a great memory. Awesome review!


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