Thursday, August 20, 2009

Some of My Favorite Things

Well, actually, it's more like "some of my favorite places" in the greater LA area.

Tozai Plaza (15460-15500 S. Western Ave and 1741-1751 W. Redondo Beach Blvd ): This is a small strip mall in Gardena. I love it because it's like a crazy bit of everywhere. The actual structure is neo Asian, but the businesses range from a Japanese udon house (Kotohira [they make their own noodles, which they sometimes replace with packaged if they run out]) to Marie Callender's. Don't feel like udon? How about the Korean soft tofu house at the corner or the pho house next door? The strip mall seems to be particularly popular with the local police during lunch hours.

Marukai Pacific Market (1620 W Redondo Beach Blvd, Gardena): A Japanese-Hawaiian market that's for club members only. Luckily, you can get a day pass. They have great produce and meat, including beef from Harris Ranch (cut to Japanese tastes) and Kurobuta pork (amazingly good). As a bonus, there's a branch of the MamMoth Bakery inside. They have the best sandwich bread! And pretty good curry donuts. (How ironic that the only bakeries that have really good sandwich bread these days are Asian! Usually Japanese or Korean.)

BTW, Tea Station has a large branch next door: explore Marukai, buy some bread, and then relax with nice cold iced milk tea!

Regency Academy Cinema (1003 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena): This is one of those theaters that show second-run films. That sounds like you'll be watching movies from the 90s, but that's not the case at all. The movies are only a couple of months old. And if you go in the afternoon, tickets are only $2! Just saw Moon there and it was great! (Was it so enjoyable because I only paid $2?)

Of course, the Regency is not the Landmark (my favorite theater); there's definitely a whiff of a college film club here (without the obsessive love and care—the staff didn't even bother to frame the film correctly, so a portion was in the curtains and the credits were above the screen). But hey, $2!

Nicole's Gourmet Foods (921 Meridian Ave, South Pasadena): This is a French deli. They don't carry a huge amount of stuff (like at Monsieur Marcel), but what they do carry is fantastic, especially their selection of chocolates and dried beans. They also have frozen croissants (the kind you have to bake when you get home) and wonderful terrines and mini quiches and cheeses, and all else wonderfully French. Nicole's is so French, I found myself wanting to say "une tranche de pate"! Who would have thought you'd find a piece of France in South Pasadena!

Friday, August 14, 2009

10 Reasons Why I'm Glad To Be Leaving My 'Hood

1. Neighbor who screams bloody murder at her yakky dogs and plays her music super loud whenever she wants to score (usually sometime around midnight) and hires gardeners who like to throw their garbage into our property.

2. Landlord who rivals Mr. Roper.

3. A house that stinks in many, many ways, literal and metaphorical.

4. Sirens screaming up and down Laurel Canyon, up and down, up and down, up and down...

5. Press helicopters chasing Britney Spears.

6. Police helicopters tracking down "Prometheus", the local arsonist.

7. Sun going down two hours earlier than everywhere else because of the hills.

8. The homeless man in the white van who steals water from the front yard.

9. Our Amityville ghost who keeps screaming at me, "GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!"

10. All the honking, skidding and crashing right outside the door because idiots drive way too fast down a winding, mountain road, smashing right into the cliff wall.

10 Things I'll Miss

1. The local police officer who advised us to mace anyone who comes to the door.

2. Getting confused and saying Mt Vesuvius instead of Mt Olympus (the hoity-toity suburban development on the hill above us).

3. Arsonists who know their Greek mythology.

4. The local Country Store and the groovy, hippy guy at the counter.

5. The super nice lady at the laundry.

6. Louise and her dog Mac, who likes to kick up dirt at anyone he feels threatened by (which is everyone except Louise).

7. Having lunch out on our tropical patio and watching the hummingbirds.

8. Greenblatt's, and Milk.

9. Shopping at Bristol Farms amongst the D-list celebrities and super hot model/actors.

10. Calling Hollywood home.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Doong Ji Naeng Myun Display

You simply have to go check out the Doong Ji Naeng Myun display at the Galleria Market in Koreatown. It's a huge plastic bowl of naeng myun and it's got these gigantic chopsticks wound around noodles that move up and down, up and down. The noodles look absolutely real! And the chopsticks seem to be moving by magic (although if you investigate, you see that the chopsticks are powered by a clever transparent plastic column hidden inside the waves of noodles — very Wizard of Oz). And don't forget to look inside the bowl, where there's yummy broth and all the traditional garnishes. Made me want to eat a bowl right there and then.

The display is near the check out, in front of the mounds of Doong Ji packaged noodles. And the Doong Ji noodles seem to be at a promotional price because I seem to remember they used to be over $3 but are now around $1 - $2. I picked up two packages, one for the mul naeng myun and one for the bibim naeng myun. Doong Ji is by Nong Shim, so I figure it can't be too bad. Can't wait to try them!

3250 W Olympic Blvd
Koreatown Galleria

Los Angeles, CA 90006
(323) 733-3800

Update: Finally tried the Doong Ji mul naeng myun and it is good! Even comes with dehydrated cucumbers and liquid broth (the powdered ones are always unpleasant). Definitely getting more before the sale ends.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Armenians in LA

I was intrigued that Armenians had such a large presence in LA. What I didn't know was that LA Armenians are from all around the globe, not just from Armenia, and that they tend to stick together in a national/ethnic kinda way. Like the Armenians in Glendale are from Iran. And the ones in Pasadena are from Syria and Lebanon. Interestingly, Hollywood Armenians are directly from Armenia, and Armenians born in the US live in Montebello.*

*Facts from Ethnic Los Angeles by Roger David Waldinger and Mehdi Bozorgmehr

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


(Stats from someone obsessed with the preponderance of helicopters in the Greater LA area:


Population: 3,849,378
Helicopters: 17*
People per helicopter: 226,434


Population: 146,518
Helicopters: 4*
People per helicopter: 36,629

As you can see, Pasadena has many more helicopters in ratio to people than LA: so what gives, Pasadena? (We've taken to calling the helicopters the Pasadena Air Force.)

*Helicopters owned by the police. (I bet the figure doubles if you include helicopters used by the media.)