The Delmar Loop is a venerable hot spot known for groovy little boutiques, cultural diversity, great restaurants, a deluxe revamped movie house and world-class entertainment. If it's been a while since your last visit to this vibrant pocket, we've got two reasons to head back and get reacquainted.

On Tue., Jan. 24, the host of CBS's The Late, Late Show, Craig Ferguson will bring his special brand of the comedy to The Pageant. Located on the east end of The Loop, the venue is known as a performer's theater. Top-grade acoustics will highlight the comic's act and assure great entertainment.

While you're in The Loop, take advantage of one of the many terrific restaurants. My suggestion, which is a hop, skip and jump from The Pageant, is Hiro Sushi & Modern Japanese Izakaya.

A not-to-be-missed dish is the braised pork belly bun. Different from a traditional Japanese pork bun, and similar to Chinese Peking duck, the sweet bread is flat and folded (much like a taco) around tender slices of braised pork belly. Adding flavor, crunch and freshness to this dish are plum sauce, cucumber, pickled vegetables and cilantro.

For some reason, I couldn't resist the octopus balls. This offering envelopes a tender, tasty bit of octopus in a beignet-style dough. The dish is dressed with bonito flakes a touch of honey mayonnaise.

A perfectly sized, sharable entrée is the Yakitori Set, which is made up of six skewers of grilled delights. Included is a chicken wing (check out our accompanying photo; the presentation on this has to be seen to be believed), teriyaki salmon, black pepper steak, taganashi pork belly, beef-wrapped asparagus and pineapple chicken.

An evening like this, in a neighborhood like this, will inspire you to head back to The Loop often to get a taste of everything it has to offer.

THE DINNER

Hiro Sushi & Modern Japanese Izakaya, 609 Eastgate Ave., The Loop, 314.721.9168, http://www.hirostl.com" target="_blank">hirostl.com

THE SHOW

Craig Ferguson, Tue., Jan. 24 at 8pm, The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., The Loop, 314.726.6161, http://www.thepageant.com" target="_blank">thepageant.com


Amy Burdge writes Eat It, St. Louis!, a blog dedicated to the pure love of food, the artistry and passion of those who create it and the sheer experience it provides.

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