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!

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