Even the Rain Could Not Stop the 2nd Annual Masters of Taste

As the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers”, but in Los Angeles that saying rarely applies. Here we are in the beginning of May, ready to enjoy the spring weather. But, last weekend, while the sun was shining, the clouds were grey and the rain was looming as the 2nd Annual Masters of Taste LA was getting ready to start. As we entered the iconic Rose Bowl in Pasadena, we were ready, just in case, and we had our rain jackets and umbrella.

Masters of Taste brought together more than fifty chefs and restaurants, as well as wine, beer, spirits, cider and non-alcoholic purveyors. More than 2000 people bought tickets to attend the event. A football field filled with food and drink is reason enough to attend the Masters of Taste but all the more so because 100 percent of the proceeds go to Union Station Homeless Services which assists the city’s homeless.

Halfway through the event, the rain came pouring down. But while most people ran for cover under the scattered umbrellas on the field, we were prepared. The rain could not stop us from exploring the tasty bites and finding some of our favorites.

One of the best bites of the day was the Uni Tostada with avocado and grapefruit salsa by Chef Michael Hung and his new restaurant Mama Lion that opened only a few days prior to the event in Koreatown. I had enjoyed his food at Faith & Flower and then at Vivianne and this one bite confirmed that I must go try his newest venture.

Soupe e petit pois from Spring Restaurant, located in downtown LA, was a vibrant green but delicate pea soup that brightened the day.

Even though it was an outdoor walk-around tasting, the smoked hamachi with soy, pickled cucumbers and scallion from Kato Restaurant was so beautifully prepared,it looked like it could have been served in the restaurant. It was as lovely to eat as it was to look at. Located in a strip mall in West Los Angeles, near Sawtelle Blvd, Kato offers an omakase-style menu and this dish is one of the first courses. Another dish that convinced me to add Kato to my list of “must try” restaurants.

Pasadena-based Claud and Co served a Thai style roasted beef belly. The meat was tender, almost melting in the mouth, and I loved the combination with the Thai flavors.

Other dishes that I enjoyed at the tasting were the Belly Bombz Kitchen Korean Inspired Wings, the Viceroy Korean BBQ spice pulled pork on a rice cracker, the Venice Whaler Lobster and Shrimp Roll, Louise’s beef carpacio with tonnato,` fennel tops and blossoms, the Nerano La Polpetta Grass-fed meatball sliders, Provolone del Monaco and toasted brioche, Crossings seared hamachi with mango rice noodle, cilantro salad, soy yuzu crema, Spireworks Bangkok Wild Rice with tamarind chutney, yellow curry aioli, green onions, Thai coconut curry crumble and pickled red peppers with sambal, Little Beast Applewood Smoked Pacific Albacore Salad, green cabbage, crispy quinoa, burnt leek aioli and pickled beets, Hamasaku‘s albacore and cilantro temaki and Sol Cocina’s shrimp tacos.

And of course there were the sweets! With what appetite was left, the two standouts were the Nothing Bundty Cakes and The Dirty Cookie, a cookie in the shape of a cup with the flavored milks poured inside.

And best of all, by the time we left, the sun was shining again! The 2nd Annual Masters of Taste was a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon with my mom, knowing that money was being raised for a good cause.