I woke up hungry early the next day and headed over to the Farmers Market on Fairfax to one of my favorite breakfast places in LA, Du-Par’s. Du-Par’s has been around since 1938 at the same location. Ownership changed hands a few years ago, and the place was closed for renovation, but despite those ominous signs, Du-Par’s has remained the same as it’s ever been. Even though some other branches have opened, I’ve only been to the original at the Farmers Market and can’t comment on the other locations. Du-Par’s at the Farmers Market
Besides being open 24/7 and serving up great breakfasts and diner classics, Du-Par’s is also a bakery, with a stand in the Farmers Market. Their pies are noteworthy and on this trip, I tried one of the best chocolate brownies I’ve ever encountered in a commercial bakery.Du-Par’s Bakery Stand (File Picture)
But enough about dessert, I went for breakfast. Du-Par’s is justifiably famous for both their pancakes and their French toast. Last time I was there I had the French toast, so this time it was pancakes for me. It was going to be a full day of eating, so I opted for a short stack, patty sausage and a glass of squeezed-to-order orange juice; just the way I like it. Breakfast was served by my lovely uniformed waitress.Du-Par’s Friendly ServiceDu-Par’s Pancakes
These pancakes are as light and fluffy as they look. Pancakes aren’t something I order very often, but these are good enough to make an exception. The sausage was from a provider in the Farmers Market, I believe, and it was very good.
Speaking of the Farmers Market, even though the Fairfax Farmers Market is now nearly engulfed by The Grove located directly next door, and there are other more fashionable markets around LA, this one remains my favorite. It’s exactly what I wish we had here in Chicago. There are multiple butchers, fish mongers, produce stands, restaurants and other vendors. Every time I see a market like this in another city, it makes me want one in Chicago even more.Typical Farmers Market Produce Stand (File Photo)
I had some business to attend to for the rest of the morning, but the afternoon gave me the opportunity to head to the San Gabriel Valley in search of Dim Sum…Xao Long Bao in particular. My plan was to head to Din Tai Fung to try their soup dumplings in order to compare them to the great ones I had at a DTF branch in Toronto that may or may not have been legitimate
. Unfortunately, it was not to be. It was a beautiful Saturday in LA, with perfect temperatures and one of those clear days that happen every once in a while where you can actually see the hills unencumbered by brown haze. It seemed that everyone was out and about that day. As a result, despite having two locations within a block of each other, the wait at Din Tai Fung was well over an hour and my party of one didn’t want to wait that long. If I had more ordering power, I surely would have waited, but a single person can only order so much and it just didn’t seem worth it for such a small sample of items.
Instead, I headed to Dean Sin World in Monterrey Park, another Pigmon recommendation.Dean Sin World
Ding Sin World is a little strip mall gem of a place serving dim sum. It’s a family run joint with only a few tables. When you sit down, the small menu is right there encased in the glass covering the table. There is little English spoken by the staff besides Thank You, but they are friendly and aim to please. I was the only Non-Asian in the place. You can easily get by with a minimum of Restaurant Chinese and pointing.Dean Sin World Menu
I started off with an order of XLB and a pork pastry that I saw in a tray off to the side.Dean Sin World Xao Long BaoDean Sin World Pork Pastry
The Xao Long Bao were very good; easily better than anything I’ve ever had in Chicago. The “soup” was rich and very flavorful and the filling was great. My only complaint was that the wrappers were not nearly as delicate as those served at Din Tai Fung, so in that regard, I was slightly let down. I’ll have to get to the LA DTF branch on my next trip to do the Toronto comparison.
The staff took particular interest in the fact that I was taking pictures and enjoying the food, so the Matriarch of the family brought me out a few other things to try including a black bean filled pastry and another similar one filled with turnip. I had never seen one of these filled with turnip before and it turned out to be a real treat.Dean Sin World HostDean Sin World Pastries
After a stop for some culture at the Griffith Observatory, it was back in the car for the return trip to my hotel.James Dean at the Griffith Observatory
On the ride back, I was listening to NPR and Jonathan Gold came on with his “Pick of the Week”. He was talking about one of LA’s food trucks called the Flying Pig that had recently opened a brick and mortar store with popular items from their food truck along with some new items. He was waxing poetic about Pork Belly Buns and Tamarind Duck Tacos and other stuff, which was drowned out with a vision of me eating those two items. Here was Jonathan Gold, a food writer whose writing I admire greatly doing a feature on the radio, talking to me and telling me to go to the Flying Pig. Who am I to resist such a recommendation?
All I can say is, Jonathan, you may have won a couple of Pulitzers and a Beard Award for your writing, but your radio work sucks.
This was easily the worst meal I had during my entire trip. No redeeming value at all.The Flying Pig Café
Immediately upon entering, I smelled the distinctive acrid smell of bottled BBQ sauce that has been boiling for a while. I said to myself, whatever that is, I don’t want to order that! It turns out, I didn’t have to. They brought out an amuse consisting of a couple of "BBQ" baby back ribs, which were actually exactly the type of Chicago style baked ribs I detest…oven baked and slathered in sauce. To their credit, they weren’t cooked to meat jello consistency. They still had a little tug left to the meat, but beyond that I’ve got nothing good to say about those ribs at all.The Flying Pig Café Amuse Bouche
I ordered the above mentioned items, a pork belly bun and a tamarind duck taco. The pork belly, while a good recipe, utilizing the same type of bun that Sun Wah uses for their Peking Duck service, was poorly executed. The pork belly was so overcooked that is was dry, tough and stringy. I took a couple of bites and gave up.The Flying Pig Café Pork Belly Bun
The tamarind duck taco fared slightly better, although the flavors didn’t harmonize together at all. In fact they clashed so much, eating that taco reminded me of a brass band tuning up; loud and discordant. At least in this case the duck was cooked properly, though the stale store bought tortilla was a real letdown.The Flying Pig Café Tamarind Duck Taco
So, although the day was pretty good, it ended on a bad note, but there were more days ahead and I hoped ‘La Feria de Los Moles’ Puebla vs Oaxaca (The Mole Fair)
being held the next day would more than make up for The Flying Pig.
6333 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Din Tai Fung
1108 S. Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007
Din Tai Fung
1088 S. Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007
Dean Sin World
306 N Garfield Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91754
2800 E Observatory Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Flying Pig Café
141 South Central Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012