This past weekend was Chinese New Year (as well as NBA allstar weekend! woop!) and LA became a deadlocked traffic jam with parades, fairs, and crazy amounts of stands.
While visiting my family for this wonderful holiday of eating and receiving money i took a day to venture around Monterey Park (or as i like to call, lil china town).
My initial intentions in the MP was actually to eat Ban Cha at a vietnamese restaurant suggested on Chowhound. But due to certain posters not keeping up to date on what they are suggesting, this restaurant has not served Ban Cha in quite awhile =(
But everything has its silver lining. I read about the Monterey Park Floral Street Fair (as Kirk slightly elaborated on his blog) on the web and i decided to make a trip over! Grabbing the gf and my buddy nick we ventured on to the traffic jam that was Garvey.
Monterey Park pretty much shut off 3-4 blocks of Garvey and threw stands up everywhere. This place was absolutely packed with people. The most notable lines were for signing up for "free TV giveaways". I always find it funny that us Chinese are so gullible and willing to have their address be sold to marketers on whatever slim chance there is to win a TV (if they even actually give one out! dishonest bastards!).
But my main reasoning for coming here was NOT for clever marketing schemes, but to try the different food stands they had available! They had Memphis BBQ, Greek, Thai, Mexican, Taiwanese street snacks, Mainland China street snacks and basic Chinese take out dishes.
I personally made a bee line to the street snacks areas after i could smell the sweet sausages from 100 yards away!
Yummy yummy sweet sausages on the right, Meat/Fish balls on a stick in the middle, and beef kabobs on the left.
Since the beef kabobs didn't look too appetizing, i got myself a sausage ($1), a meat ball kabob ($2), and a fresh mango drink ($2)(It was easily 85+ degrees at this point, the drink was extremely refreshing). Not too bad for a little snack, i wish the meat ball stick was a little bit cheaper since it oddly lacked flavor with every bite. You can tell where the sauce was and where there wasn't any sauce... felt like i was occasionally just eating dry meat.
BUT THE SAUSAGES, OH MAN THE SAUSAGE. this is just like the little street vendors in mainland china that sell these sausages for approx 75cents a piece. Everytime i saw one in China my mom would look at me and shake her head no in fear i would be poisoned. But everytime I left her sight i secretly ran over and bought myself a sausage. And boy they were good.
Every sausage has a sweet taste that you can't even describe. It tastes sweet but not sugary, and just the right amount of fat and lean meat combined together in that delicious delicious link.
After walking around a bit i decided to go check out the taiwanese street vendor stand. They had the meatballs on a stick (yuck), Crispy chicken, Stinky tofu, and pieces of fried chicken. Something VERY surprising that they had (not pictured) was Ma La hot pot in small portions. There were bowls of Napa Cabbage, Tofu, Fish Balls, Pigs blood being dipped into the MA LA soup. Looked delicious! but it was way too hot outside to be eating that!
If i wasn't getting the "glare of guilt for being a fatty" from my girlfriend i would have gotten the Crispy Chicken because it looks so crispy and fresh =( So i just ended up with the stinky tofu.
This was delicious. I bought it right after they cooked up a new batch. I could smell it all the way from the tray *YYUMMMMMMMMMMY*. As my girlfriend and buddy Nick ran away from the smell i gorged myself.
The tofu is covered with a sweet / spicy soy-like sauce (but thicker) and pickled cabbage (not kimchi, its sweet not spicy). The tofu itself is fermented to get the smell. My family always said the smellier it was the better it tasted.
So i put the box next to my nose and took a very very large wiff. Boy oh boy was that smelly! Just how i like it! The tofu soaked the soy-like sauce in, so every bite was heaven when mixed with the cabbage.
IF , big IF you can get by the smell this stuff is delicious. Some people cant eat it or refuse to eat it *cough nick/GF* because of the smell, but its just a wonderful treat.
A very funny thing that we noticed was a police officer trying to find who operated the food vendors. Apparently one person was complaining (a rather large portly gentleman) that his stomach started hurting after eating at one of the vendors. So the cop taking his job much too seriously was on his walkie-talkie issuing dire dire commands
"We need to bring Caution tape, we're going to string it in front of all the vendors so no one can get to them" They finally got health inspectors out, and you can see the cops watching each vendor, silently judging them with their evil cop stares. To my knowledge all of the vendors were still there the next night.
Ummmmmmmmmm maybe the guy was gonna have a stomachache whether or not he ate the food? HUM?????? Apparently most cops dont' go thru these reasonings in their head.
One last note, they had a spam truck. Where a lady was hanging out samples of "single serving" spam packages. I personally dislike spam with a passion unrivaled by the RedSox and the Yankees, but my girlfriend wanted some free spam, so free spam we waited in line for. Chinese people love free.
One old lady who couldn't speak english kept pointing at the other free samples after she received hers already! So greedy!!!