Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 3 (Part 4) - Little Tokyo

January 25, 2016 (continued): The next place I checked out was mainly the Japanese Village Plaza area in Little Tokyo. Making my way from the Go For Broke Monument, I passed by some interesting art along the way.

On the side of one of the buildings in the Japanese American National Museum is a mural entitled, Moon Beholders by Katie Yamasaki.

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Further down the street beside the other building of the museum is the OOMO Cube, a giant rubix-like cube with different facial features from all different backgrounds and ethnicities you can mix and match to show that we are more similar than different. I added my mean “frowning in the sunlight” mug to the equation on one of the mirrored sides of the sculpture.

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I then ventured towards the Japanese Village Plaza. Out in front is a replica of a Japanese fire lookout called the Yagura Fire Tower. It was actually designed by a Korean-American architect David Hyun in 1978.

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Inside the plaza is small but has a mix of Japanese themed shops specializing in nik naks, toys, clothes and beauty. There are also a few restaurants, sweets and bakery shops and a Japanese market.

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In the courtyard are traditional, Japanese wishing trees where people write their wishes on small pieces of paper and tie them to the bamboo tree. In normal tradition the tree is later thrown into the river or brought to a shrine and set fire to in order for the wish to come true. I just thought it was a lovely scene in being able to visually see people's hopes and dreams in colorful, physical form.

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It was starting to get late, and I was getting hungry so I went to try a nearby ramen restaurant Shin-Sen-Gumi which in Little Tokyo is located across the street from the Japanese Village Plaza. At this location there is usually a line of patrons waiting to get in, pretty much any time of day but it usually moves fairly quickly. They sell only one type of base broth and then you choose from a variety of toppings including a miso butter bomb, to tomato paste and mozzarella(!!). I got one of the suggested combinations of kimchi, garlic chips and a poached egg. It was delicious, the noodles were nicely aldente, the toppings added a nice texture and flavor variation that helped cut the richness of the broth.

It was also surreal to see non-Japanese chefs cooking the ramen who conversing in perfect Japanese. At the same time it made me ashamed in my own lack of fluency.

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I finished off the night with dessert at the Mikawaya store back in the plaza, where they have a variety of different flavored Japanese mochi ice cream. Here is the cookies and cream version. 美味しかった! (It was delicious!).

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Weekly Update: LA - Supermoon, Sunsets, Street Art and Stuffing My Face

October 2 - October 14: I’ve decided to try to incorporate a weekly, visual diary on the blog. I wanted to start documenting things more frequently again, as I did with the photo a day challenge on my instagram last year - it was a nice reminder of what I did on a particular day. I feel like it will also push me to explore again and spark my creativity, as I’ve kind of got into a rut of the daily grind of get up, go to work, get home late, go to sleep and do it all over again. Hopefully it won’t be too boring, though I have a strange fascination of seeing someone else’s day to day life, even the mundane tasks, maybe it reminds me that we’re all human at the end of the day. I also like to mentally bookmark interesting places that they go to for when I someday visit that place. These will most likely be shots from my phone and when I remember to document things so they probably won’t be artistic masterpieces, just random recorded memories.

Let’s begin! Yes, I realize October 2 - 14 is more than a week but I had some images I wanted to share before I thought to start this so I’ve included a bonus round.

October 2: My drive home from work was made a little bit brighter (no pun intended) due to the huge supermoon that hung in the sky at the beginning of this month. I wish I had my DSLR with me to capture the true size of that thing, it was like a bat signal in the sky it was so ginormous.

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I’ve been on a health kick as of late, working out everyday and eating better, so cooking more at home. I tried out this recipe of Roasted Carrots with Farro, Chickpeas and herbed Creme Fraiche. I subbed the farro for brown rice and the creme fraiche for the tahini sauce in the substitution part of the recipe. It came out pretty tasty, I think I overcooked the carrots a little, but the sweetness of the heirloom carrots made it come out caramelized and slightly crispy which was a nice added texture.

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October 3: Supermoon round 2, while waiting in traffic in Beverly Hills.

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October 4: Sunsets and supermoon while leaving work again. I like how in the last picture you can’t easily distinct the moon from the street lights but in real life it was as the song suggests, like a huge pizza pie!

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October 7: Started off the weekend at Black Dog Coffee where my favorite Avocado Toast is. This is the Deluxe Avocado Toast and worth every penny, its size is hefty and you have to hold it with two hands because it is stacked high with goodies. A large slice of bread is covered in avocado, arugula, fresh, soft melt in your mouth burrata cheese, tomatoes and drizzled with pesto and balsamic vinegar - heaven on toast!

Later, I spotted a little Lucille Dog (?) art on a clean up your dog’s poop sign.

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October 8: I treated myself to one of my favorite ramen in LA, the Spicy Vegan Miso Ramen at Jinya Ramen. I feel like if you can make a tasty vegetarian/vegan food, then you’ll be pretty good at making the other items on their menu. Unlike a pho place I tried that shall remain nameless whose vegetarian broth had less taste than if they just put water in there as the soup! Anyway this Vegan Miso Ramen is not missing any flavor and manages to retain the umami-ness that other normally pork-based broths have. This ramen contains soft tofu, onion, green onion, spinach, crispy onion, garlic chips, black garlic oil, chilli oil, sesame seeds and thick noodles. I had to add one of the best things about ramen, an ajitama egg (marinated, soft-boiled egg) to the mix. Even though it is named “Spicy” it is definitely a tolerable heat that doesn’t overpower the meal and you can still taste other flavors.

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October 9: The next couple of days had the most gorgeous sunsets, the sun was like a glowing fireball and the skies hued in pastel.

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October 10: Leaving work, the sunset had set the sky on fire again.

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Earlier, I said I was on a health kick, but I don’t deny myself things that I’m craving and it’s actually helped a lot than when I’ve dieted in the past to not completely restrict myself - because you end up thinking about it more than just having a little taste. SK’s donuts are heaven in a shop as they are open 24 hours, rotating out freshly made donuts throughout the day. Their cronuts are some of the best I’ve tasted as they have a nice crunch to them that most others I’ve tried have failed to capture. I just got a simple selection, a chocolate sprinkle, red velvet, and a cream cheese filled donut with oreo topping. Their cakey donuts are delicious, decadent, but not too heavy.

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October 11: A little bumper sticker wisdom on the drive home from work, “I am a leaf on the wind… watch how I soar.”

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October 12: A serendipitous moment of parallels, a man with a red and white striped shirt standing in front of the red and silver striped Peterson Automotive Museum.

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Later that night, I went to grab dinner in West Hollywood, and spotted Salt & Straw’s ribbon art on the side of their store. I first tried them in Portland last year - delicious, innovative ice cream.

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October 14: Finally working on editing my video diary from my west coast trip last year. I’ve been procrastinating, since it’s been a steep learning curve teaching myself Premiere Pro. I’ve edited videos in the past in iMovie but I wanted more control over certain elements so that’s why it’s been taking a while but I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. Any tips would be appreciated!

That’s it for this “week”. I will try to finish up writing for my west coast trip travel diary series and post those as well!