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.

Far East Plaza: Local LA food under one roof

Far East Plaza, Los Angeles Chinatown

This is the Far East Plaza in the Los Angeles Chinatown I mentioned in an earlier post. It’s a mall on Broadway Street with stores specializing in ethnic goods, ranging from jade jewelry to Chinese herbs. Today, the building is best known as a destination for gastronomic adventure. Pok Pok Phat Thai, Roi Choi’s Chego, Ramen Champ and Scoops lend a more modern air to a generally traditional Asian cuisine. Heard Howlin’ Ray’s Nashville-style hot chicken is soon joining the scene next month.

Far East Plaza20160105_134011-1-1

My mom’s personal favorites at Far East Plaza are Fortune Gourmet Kitchen for budget-friendly, awesome Chinese food, and the unassuming Thien Houng Vietnamese Restaurant.

Took photos of the little family-run banh mi and pho eatery with my phone while eating at a table outside.

Thien Houng Restaurant, Los Angeles

Mom and I make it a point to have pho and fresh spring rolls, with iced Vietnamese coffee, here. Prices are very affordable like the smallest pho (which is still big for me) costs $5.50. We tried the Vietnamese version of popular Filipino street food kikiam and fishballs. The red Vietnamese balls in the photo below are barbecued pork and so delicious with chili paste made even hotter with Sriracha. They sell native delicacies as well, and we always bring home banh bo nuong, also known as honeycomb cake, made of tapioca flour and pandan extract. The texture is so much like the rice version of puto.

Banh Bo NuongVietnamese Street FoodThien Houng Banh Mi

A banh mi is something I’ll try when we go back again.

It’s also always a pleasure to go shopping at the nearby Far East Center across the building. Must-buys are white coffee, dried Chinese ingredients, preserved roots and all the Chinese tea for brewing.

A happy weekend everyone!

Vietnamese Food To GoBánh ít lá gai20160116_154937pho and spring rollsVietnamese Coffee
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