Whenever we travel, the first thing we do is check to see if there are any food tours that would be interesting to go to. We heard about Urban Adventures and decided to turn this into a culinary world-schooling opportunity for the kids. So we spent a day taking the Los Angeles Urban Adventures food tour sampling delicious foods in LA’s different ethnic neighborhoods, hole-in-the-wall eateries, and even had a history lesson along the way.
Koreatown was one of the neighborhoods we got to explore during our Urban Adventures food tour
“Urban Adventures is about a new style of travel experience for those who want to get off the beaten path and really connect with a destination.”
Urban Adventures has tours (not just food tours) in 91 countries and 154 cities, with tours led by local guides. Most tours are limited to 12 people in a group, but don’t worry if you’re the only person signed up. They’ll still continue the tour, and you get the guide all to yourself, like we did!
We chose the Los Angeles Urban Adventures food tour because they place emphasis on offbeat adventures. We would never have found any of the restaurants and shops if we had explored LA on our own. It was truly a foodie experience led by a local Los Angelean.
Los Angeles is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, making it a truly global city and a foodie mecca. We had no idea what to expect when it came to the Los Angeles food scene, but thanks to Summer and her in-depth knowledge of LA history, we left with satisfied tummies, appreciating the city’s various ethnic neighborhoods.
Our tour started off on a sunny August day in front of the famed HMS Bounty at the Gaylord Apartments in Koreatown. The quirky, nautical-themed restaurant and bar has been around for over six decades and frequented by Hollywood celebrities. Regulars here are known to include former British PM, Winston Churchill, and newspaper magnate William Hearst.
We walked to our first restaurant on the tour, Ham Ji Park which is a family run restaurant that’s been in Koreatown for over 30 years. Famous for their style of cooking (they used their science degrees to work on recipes), it is said that the recipes are so popular, they’ve been copied by neighboring Korean restaurants.
We were able to sample some mildly flavored corn tea, green salad and various freshly made Korean banchan, which are small side dishes that accompany a traditional Korean meal. The kids liked the fermented daikon and kimchi. They have since opened three restaurants in LA, but if you want a taste of the original, head to their location in Koreatown.
Our next stop was an Asian grocery store called Zion Market, where we got to taste Lee’s Ho & Bung cream-filled fish. It reminded us of all the taiyaki we ate in Japan!
As we left Koreatown for Little Armenia, Summer stopped along the way a number of times to give us history lessons of the city of Los Angeles. We walked by the Hotel Normandie, Koreatown’s first hotel, built in 1926. The hotel architecture is Andalucian style and was built by the same architects as the Beverly Wilshire.
Stepping into Little Armenia
The Los Angeles metropolitan area is home to the largest Armenian population in the world outside of Armenia. Therefore, it’s no surprise that LA has its own “Little Armenia” neighborhood. Located in East Los Angeles, Little Armenia showcases hundreds of Armenian businesses, and of course what we came to the area for, Armenian food! Our first stop of three was to Sasoun Bakery, which has been around for over 30 years and grown from one location in Little Armenia to six all over LA County.
We got to taste an extremely delicious, traditional Armenian cheese boereg. Made from fluffy phyllo dough and cheese. It literally melted in your mouth. So tasty!
Thai tea to start off the meal
In the middle of Little Armenia, is a popular Thai restaurant, Thai Food Spicy & BBQ, serving up delicious recipes from Northern Thailand, which happened to be our next stop, and our favorite of the entire tour.
Khao Soi is a popular street food noodle soup served in Northern Thailand, but uncommon in Thai restaurants abroad. We were excited to be able to try it. If you’re looking for comfort in a bowl, this is it! But be warned, the restaurant is small, with only about 5-6 tables and extremely long lines, but it is SO worth it!
Yet another stop on the tour! We were stuffed by this point…
We thought we were finally done eating, but were in for a surprise when Summer took us to yet another family-owned restaurant! After our generous serving of soup, we couldn’t think about eating another large dish. Thankfully, Urban Adventures takes this into consideration and we only tasted a plate of falafel from Falafel Arax.
What’s special about this falafel as is that the mixture contains fava beans in addition to the regular chickpeas.
Finally, it was time for one of our favorite parts of a meal…dessert!
Summer took us for a walk down some lovely streets where we admired California architecture before ending up in our final neighborhood, Thai Town.
Dessert was from a Thai bakery and store, Bhan Kanom Thai, where we got to sample a traditional street food called Kanom Krok. Generally served as a savory street food dish, the sweet version is made from dumplings filled with coconut pudding. If you’re seeking authentic Thai baked foods, we definitely recommend Bhan Kanom Thai. The variety of baked goods and snacks are endless.
The Los Angeles dining scene is extremely varied and it’s hard to find local dining spots. That’s where Urban Adventures comes in – they provide great food tours that get you in to the local neighborhoods and give you a taste of foods the locals love to eat. Best of all your guides are locals, too!
The Los Angeles Urban Adventures Ethnic Neighborhoods Food & Culture food tour is a child-friendly tour. Children below the age of 6 are allowed to join for free, while ages 6-11 pay a discounted rate. If you find yourself in Los Angeles, don’t hesitate to book a food tour with Urban Adventures. You will not be disappointed – three hours later, we left very content – both with Summer’s historical information of Los Angeles, and of course, stuffed tummies!