The Taste is the dining showcase at the Figat7th shopping center, a collection of local restaurants on the main floor of a mall that also houses Target, H&M and Zara. It's not your regular mall eats: Indian food, handmade Japanese soba, Korean barbecue and fresh gelato are part of the "new food court" lineup.
Loteria Grill: Jimmy Shaw's Loteria Grill is practically an L.A. institution, and Shaw was one of the first to sign on to the Taste, where the lunchtime crowd can order ceviches such as red snapper with tomato, citrus and serrano chiles; huevos rancheros; or a carne deshebrada shredded beef burrito. Still, most popular are the tacos on thick masa tortillas: tinga de pollo, chicken stewed with chipotle and chorizo, or papa con rajas, potatoes with roasted poblano peppers and salsa verde. Also on the menu are nearly a dozen margaritas. And next door is Shaw's Torta Co. sandwich shop. www.loteriagrill.com
Gentaro Soba: The Tokyo-based soba shop serves handmade soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles) from a sleek stand designed by Kenya Hara and Torafu Architects. On a hot summer day, the zaru soba, chilled noodles served with a dipping sauce and garnished with a tangle of nori seaweed and sliced green onions, is fantastically refreshing. An order of the hiyashi soba comes with a mound of fresh herbs. And the noodles are always cooked al dente. There are hot soba options too, topped with tempura or mixed with Japanese chicken curry. Why eat a rice bowl (also on the menu) when there are so many soba choices? www.gentarosoba.com
Oleego by Parks BBQ: Oleego, from the founders of Parks BBQ, is the quick, modular version of Korean barbecue. The deal is you choose a marinated meat, such as galbi, bulgogi, duck galbi, spicy pork bulgogi, and either rice (brown or white), fried rice (with egg or kimchi), noodles or greens, and it's packaged separately into a two-layer bowl (oleego means to "lay on" in Korean). It also comes with your choice of sauce (soy, spicy soy or bean paste). The galbi is tender and perfectly marinated — and why wouldn't you order it with the kimchi fried rice? www.oleegousa.com
Indus: One of the highlights at this fast-casual version of a Beverly Hills Indian restaurant is its fresh nan, griddled right in front of you at the window. The main menu offers bowls — rice with your choice of chicken tikka masala, chicken curry, saag paneer (spinach cooked with herbs and Indian cheese), peeli dal (lentil stew) or channa masala (spiced chickpeas) — or platters that come with tandoori chicken breast. I've yet to come across a bad combo. Don't forget the nan. www.saffronindia.com
Pazzo Gelato: Pazzo Gelato at the Taste serves fresh gelatos, sorbets and Intelligentsia coffee, just like at the original Silver Lake location. The list of creamy, not-too-sweet gelato and sorbet flavors includes fior di latte (milk) with honey, toasted almond fig, baked yellow peach, banana malt crunch, Nutella, lavender honey melon, Meyer lemon yogurt and so much more. www.pazzogelato.com
The Taste at Figat7th, 735 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, (213) 955-7150, www.figat7th.com
Follow me on Twitter: @bettyhallockCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times