LA from my POV


Only until I was able to confidently hop on a train to go to Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA), and take the bus without really looking at the bus app anymore, that I was able to fully enjoy exploring the hidden gems of the city. I have company on Thursdays, but otherwise, it’s a better idea to have your own loose schedule, making room for randonimity.

I have my favorite spots like I’d want to go back to over and over again, and share it with friends.

The Last Bookstore on Spring St. is walkable from my other fave places like the Grand Central Market.


The Los Angeles Arts District is for someone who doesn’t mind walking blocks of old warehouses converted to galleries, hip bars and cafes and trendy boutiques. If Instagrammable settings are your thing, then you should be hawk-eyed for catchy street art.


Hipsterdom Silver Lake also happens to be a foodie heaven. Too many options, but so far liking Pine and Crane for Taiwanese food, Millie’s breakfast plates, El Cochinito for Cuban homestyle cooking,  kitschy Thai restaurant Night + Market Song, Milk for desserts, and on the border of East Hollywood, there’s Sqirl which I never tire of. If you eat only organic, you will love the weekend market.


Not your ordinary vintage shops abound in this neighbornood.


Any Chinatown in the world is interesting, but what makes the Los Angeles Chinatown more interesting is the fact that the Far East Plaza, which used to house Chinese cultural art and traditional products, has opened its doors to an insane hodgepodge of globally liked dishes, like there’s a good ramen spot, a Chego, which creates modern Korean rice bowls, a banh mi and pho place, a bao house owned by actor Eddie Huang (they have the best coffin bao!), an inexpensive but fantastic Chinese restaurant, Scoops with the most original ice cream flavors, the newly opened contemporary Filipino LASA, not to forget Howlin’ Ray’s which has an impossible long line always.


Not far from the Far East Plaza are great dim sum restaurants like Ocean Seafood (if you find the San Gabriel Valley out of the way).


The Grand Central Market. Yes, the iconic 1917 Grand Central Market is better than ever, what with the new Los Angeles food culture. And then mixing the old with the new makes the experience more evocative.


The long line leading to Eggslut is still there. I always get the Fairfax with avocado and bacon add-ons. Sari-Sari Store is good news to Filipino food lovers. Liking the sisig bowl, super nakaka-nostalgia.

A lot of food for the soul here.


Right across the Grand Central Market is the Bradbury Building, a living proof of stellar historical preservation. If it looks familiar to you, it is because it was used as filming location to scenes in the original Blade Runner.


Something I enjoyed was tracking down the Camera Obscura that gives a pinhole view of the Santa Monica beach.


Discovering the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine on Sunset Blvd. in Pacific Palisades was serendipity. So Zen, it is a place to forget all your worries, or just be away from the urban wild.

I like spending my time in museums. I love LACMA where Picasso made me cry. And The Broad was so much fun. Across The Broad is the Disney Concert Hall.


They say the best thing about LA is Koreatown. If you like Korean food you will definitely agree, but there’s more than Kbbq and bibimbap and jap chae here. The busiest Boiling Crab is in Ktown. It’s also home to Sun Nong Dan, which serves the best sullungtang bone broth and cheesy galbi jjim. I swear by Cassell’s Hamburgers at the Hotel Normandie. And the best bingsoo, to me, is at Anko. Wako Donkasu, for its  cold soba and pork katsu, is another personal fave. I’m having an affair with a Korean hairstylist. I buy my green tea here, and checking out the latest in Kbeauty is therapeutic.


I’ve never enjoyed Los Angeles like this before.

Joshua Tree National Park | Trailing the Sun

Cholla Garden Boardwalk

A happy week to everyone!

Cholla Cactus Garden, Joshua Tree National ParkMorning Rays
Cholla CactusA Thorny SpotWash of LightCholla Cactus
Cholla Cactus GardenCampingJoshua Tree National ParkFrom A Moving CarVivid YellowLost Palms Oasis TrailLost Palms Oasis TrailLost Palms OasisRockyCalifornia DesertLost Palms TrailJoshua Tree National ParkLost Palms OasisAt the end of the Lost Palms Oasis Trail

With special thanks to Marichi and Jonathan Lo for the adventure and photos of me.

Photographed by Tina Tan © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2015

Across the Border

International Border

Tijuana, roughly two and a half hours from LA, and the next-door neighbor of San Diego, is not as exotic as I thought it would be.

“En globalization de Tijuana.”

My sister thought I saw it somewhere. We had Spanish subjects in college, gracias.

Jesus on the road in Baja California

Tijuana is the cultural and commercial center of Baja California. Before exploring downtown Tijuana, we went to Puerto Nuevo for lobsters. Driving can be super stressful. It can be worse than in Manila. People will suddenly appear on the freeway. Men will also try to stop your car at the area where the lobster restaurants are teeming But food was exceptional. Lobsters at Villa Ortega (my sister learned about the place from insiders) are from Maine, the Caribbean or the playas. Bread, tortilla soup or salad, and tortillas with rice and beans are served with every order of seafood.

Puerto Nuevo SeafoodVilla Ortega Window ViewNachosGrilled LobstersTortillasMexican CuisineView from Puerto NuevoDowntown TijuanaAvenida Revolucion is the main street of  the zona centro of Tijuana. In the photo is the Tijuana Arch.

Avenida Revolucion, Zona Centro, TijuanaTijuana StreetA coffee shop in TijuanaMom and I had awesome coffee at this place. Mine was flavored with amaretto, but I know the distinct flavor has something to do with the beans.

TijuanaDulce de LecheTijuana

Shopping in T.J. (Tijuana’s nickname) was so much fun. Didn’t find my size in the blue huaraches I liked. Mom bought us embroidered peasant dresses and tops. I found a white top in abel-like fabric with dainty blue patterns on the neckline. Also got a tote with Mexican artist Frida Kahlo on it.

Tijuana Cultural CenterCentro Cultural de Tijuana

Capping our Baja California sojourn is merienda at the busy Taqueria Franc. Tripe or lengua tacos. anyone? My soft taco with adobado (marinated pork) made any taco I’ve had before so inaccurate.

AdobadaTaqueria FrancTaqueria Franc, TijuanaTaqueriaTacos de TripasTacos de tripas and tacos de adobada with guacamole below.

Tacos de Adobada

I enjoyed this trip with mom and my sister Nikko. Thanks to both.

San Ysidro Port of EntryThe super busy San Ysidro Port of Entry.

Photographed by V. Lo and Tina Tan
© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2015

A taste of heritage: Philippe The Original French Dipped Sandwich

Philippe - Los Angeles

Indigenous to Los Angeles, French dipped sandwiches were invented by accident, claims Philippe, one of the oldest and best known restaurants in Southern California. It was established in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, who was of French descent. The story of the sandwich served au jus is that “while making a sandwich, Mathieu inadvertently dropped the sliced french roll into the roasting pan filled with juice still hot from the oven. The patron, a policeman, said he would take the sandwich anyway and returned the next day with some friends asking for more dipped sandwiches.”

Philippe The Original French Dipped Sandwiches

One can choose from either roast beef, roast pork, leg of lamb, turkey or ham served on a lightly textured, freshly baked French roll which has been dipped in the natural gravy of the roasts. Swiss, Cheddar, American, Monterey Jack or blue cheese may be added. Sides can be chosen from tart, tangy cole slaw, homemade potato and macaroni salads, hard boiled eggs pickled in beet juice and spices, large Kosher style, sour dill or sweet pickles, black olives and hot yellow chili peppers.

Philippe The OriginalDSC_3853-2

Ate my leg of lamb with Philippe’s signature French mustard. Double is the more popular dip, but I had a single dip, and I liked it ‘coz you still get to enjoy the crisp texture of the baguette while the inner sides are moist with meat juice. The coleslaw had a hint of vinegar.

Philippe The Original lemon meringue

All the desserts looked good. Lemon meringue was just too perfect. Even the lemonade was fresh and nice compared to other lemonades I’ve had recently.

Ambiance is old classic. Sawdust is left on the floor, giving the downtown LA eating establishment much character.

Philippe The Original 1001 N Alameda St, Los Angeles Phone: (213) 628-3781

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2015