Fruit Farm – a Juice and Sandwiches Place in Little Tokyo

26 Oct

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Another new place opens up in Little Tokyo, this time in the fortress of solitude — the Little Tokyo Galleria Center. The owners are doing their best to turn this ghost town mall around by bringing in a bowling alley, a Koreatown coffee shop, a high end dim sum place, etc. The newest opening is on the sadly half-vacant first floor, next to the froyo place, Boba on Top, and the Beard Papa.

Fruit Farm is a juice and sandwiches place — the kind of healthy, fresh place that is abundant in the Financial District, but not in Little Tokyo. So is it any good?

They’ve done a nice job making the small place pleasant, despite being indoors. Reclaimed wood, subway tiles — cliche but pleasant.
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The display case is full of fresh produce — highlighting that they make most things from scratch.

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The menu is pretty basic. It’s cheap and straightforward. The sandwiches are an interesting mix of Korean, Californian, and Vietnamese.

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I got the bulgogi bahn mi because I couldn’t resist the mix of two of my favorite foods. But this was against my better judgment, since:

1) sweet bulgogi and pickly, herby bahn mi don’t really seem like they should go together.
2) Korean people don’t really do Vietnamese food well. Ex. A: the Pho Shoppe just a few doors down from Fresh Fruit.

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You can see some good and bad in this picture. The bread is a pretty good bahn mi baguette. They press it in a panini grill, which is not a bad move, if not authentic.

Oh, and with a sandwich or salad, you can add a fresh squeezed lemonade for $1.50. It’s too sweet for me, but some may be OK with that. It’s similar to the lemonade at Hot Dog on a Stick (I mean that as a compliment). It’s offered in a regular, mango lemonade, and strawberry lemonade.

But tomatoes and raw red onions are a weird choice. The onions are a particularly bad move. But I could live with them if the other main elements were good. But the pickled veg were not great, too sweet in a more Korean way than Vietnamese. The bulgogi was ok.

Altogether, the sandwich is a miss but with promise. If I were them, I would just drop the bahn mi elements, and just make it a bulgogi sandwich. I’ll try a few more things, including their more straightforward turkey sandwich. It’s so early that they are probably working some things out. Little Tokyo needs a place like this and I would love to see them do well.

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On another visit I got the spicy pork wrap. It looks like a panini grill-marked burrito from the outside.

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Whole wheat tortilla, Korean spicy pork, cheese (probably melted shredded cheese mix like you’d find in your mom’s Taco Tuesday table. Surprisingly decent. None of the weirdness of the bahn mi. Much more straightforward and highlighting the Korean meat. For $6 it’s a heck of a deal.

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And coming here is a good excuse to get one of my favorite kimbaps at the stand just outside the market next door. Kimbap with odeng (fish cake) and kim chi. Brilliant!

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Fruit Farm
333 S. Alameda, Ste. 104
Los Angeles, CA 90013
tel:+12136260670

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