Sunday, January 16, 2011


Yesterday Bob and I "flew the friendly freeways" to another world just seventy miles west to meet up with Andrew in Los Angeles's Chinatown.  This is not the huge Chinatown of New York City or San Francisco, but it is impressive nevertheless. 

You know you are there when you drive under these dragons:
I get a kick out of the Cesar E. Chavez street sign that seems so out of place.

Suddenly, there is Chinese writing everywhere:

Even the crosswalks tell you where you are:

The customers of these shops still looked and sounded Chinese, even though the shops themselves look so tourist-y.  In fact, I was quite surprised at how few tourists there were overall.  We were definitely out of place:

There is lots and lots of food.  We had a great time window shopping in the various cafeteria-style food places, salivating over the roast ducks and other various delicassies.  (Sorry my pictures are so poor.  I was taking them on the sly.  I think we were the only non-Asians in the store.)

We did purchase a few very, very tasty pork gyoza.  They were quite a bit larger than what we are used to:

The bigger grocery store-style shops sold a variety of exotic things, and I could have sworn we were back in Beijing:

I really wanted to buy some of whatever fungus that is on the right for my Dear Brother Dave, but I'm not sure when we will be seeing each other again, and I didn't think I wanted to store it at my house indefinitely:

One store had a fascinating medicinal section.  Those deer tendons on the right still have the hooves attached:

We did buy a few food items.  We just couldn't help it.  Don't you LOVE the idea of "Longevity Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk"?  I DO!
Andrew, knowing that we love foreign grocery stores, next took us to Little Tokyo to an absolutely fabulous Japanese grocery store called Woori Market.  Bob, of course, had to try something a bit, um, unusual, such as this abalone sashimi:
and this salted cod fillet:
He also bought two steamed whelks (which are essentially sea snails).  To get to the meat, he had to bash the shells with the bottom of a pot when we got back to Andrew's apartment.  They were interesting, but I liked the abalone better.

After spending time in China and Japan, we finished off the day in Koreatown consuming plate after plate after plate of fine food from Hae Jang Chon All-You-Can-Eat Korean Barbecue with Andrew and his girlfriend Lauren.  

The first thing customers are served at a Korean barbecue is a variety of side dishes and sauces:


Then the waitress brings out a variety of raw meats, three kinds at a time, that you cook yourself on a stone slab resting on a flame in the center of the table.  We had three sets (nine different kinds) of meat.  I was shocked to find that my absolute favorite was beef tongue.  It tasted like very rich, flavorful, premium steak.

We started with (clockwise, from top) marinated short ribs, thick bacon-like slabs of pork belly, a side of kimchee and soybean sprouts, more pork belly, and beef brisket.

 Our next round included (from top) beef tongue, bolgogi (marinated beef), and spicy barbecued pork (in foil)

The first thing in our last round was a big slab of  squid, which we fried and then cut into strips:

That was followed by octopus. After it was fully cooked, the waiter came by and cut it into pieces for us.  I was glad not to have to eat one whole.  Once you get over the way it looks, octopus is really pretty good:

And finally, we finished off the meal with another round of barbecued beef:

It was a very enjoyable, culturally enriching day.   Who needs to travel?  We've got a good dose of the Far East just 70 miles to the west!


  1. Some of this food actually looks edible.

    Lots of interesting fun and no jet-lag. You can't beat that!

  2. We love this trip! Our favorite way to do it is on Metro (more expensive, but closer) or Metro-link. When you pick up the gold line in Pasadena you pay only slightly more for your all day metro tickets than you would have paid for parking and AJ gets to ride the train. *grin* Little Tokyo, Chinatown, and Oleveras (sp?) streets all have very close metro stops.

  3. Of course the Metro is what is in Pasadena, and the Metro link is the more expensive trains that run on the regular tracks, and you can pick it up in San Bernardino. (Although there are specials on tickets on the weekend.)

  4. @chrisjones--agreed!

    Do you conduct food tours of LA? I wouldn't know the first thing to order at these places. Great photos of strange foods--yes, it definitely feel foreign.

  5. It's always fun to read about your adventures.