Today’s a bit more of a photo essay but before we get into that half of this newsletter, I want to share something important with you. Over the past year, there’s been a huge rise in anti-Asian hate related crimes and a large part of this is directed towards Asian-owned businesses in Chinatowns, Little Saigons, Little Tokyos, Koreatowns, etc. across our country. The rise in xenophobic hate crimes made people who do want to support and eat at restaurants anxious and businesses all across the country are being affected. A few weeks ago Chinese cuisine expert and author Grace Young, launched an awareness campaign called #LoveAAPI along with the support of the James Beard Foundation and Poster House to support Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders all over our country. Grace Young is an author I’ve admired for a long time and her books like Breath of A Wok have been valuable teaching guides in my own cooking. I immediately knew I must participate. Being an immigrant myself and having faced my own struggles with xenophobia, I know that feeling of not being wanted all too well. Restaurants were already under immense pressure from the impacts of COVID and it’s a shame to see several Asian-owned restaurants shut down due to the Anti-Asian rhetoric.
Our Chinatowns, Koreatowns, Little Saigons, Japantowns, etc. form a part of the central foundations in our cities. Not only do these communities provide a gateway and resource to history, culture, and food, they’re also extremely important as a resource. Imagine someone who left their home in a different country and immigrated, these communities provide that much needed support and help.
When we lived in Oakland, I’d spend a lot of time at the Oakland Chinatown shopping for ingredients at the farmer’s market as well as the Asian grocery stores. Sometimes, I’d make trips solely to eat custard tarts, pineapple buns, and moon cakes. With L.A. it’s been a little different, I’ve moved here recently and haven’t had a chance to spend enough time in my new Chinatown to know it very well. In our first year, we took a special trip to Chinatown to catch a glimpse of the colorful celebrations at Chinese New Year and take a walk through the beautiful Thien Hau temple. That evening remains one of my most special memories and reminded me I feel so fortunate to live in L.A. – the people and the diversity.
There are many ways to show your support for AAPI and their businesses, and today I’m sharing a short list of some of my favorite spots in L.A. Now, while this in no way is an exhaustive list of the Asian-owned businesses and restaurants in L.A., these are the ones that I go to regularly. You should also regularly check out the different lists by Eater LA that get updated often and provide a very comprehensive list of restaurants all across the L.A. county.
While this is for the most part a list of restaurants, it would be amiss if I didn’t mention Now Serving L.A. This is the cookbook store to visit in the city centered right in the heart of Chinatown. What makes this bookstore so special is not only that it is centered around food literature and cookbooks but the owners Ken Concepcion and Michelle Mungcal are devoted to establishing a supportive community of food lovers in the city. I’ve done events for both my books at their lovely store and attended several events by other cookbook authors. They’re also a great resource to reach out to and I’ve picked their brains whenever I’ve needed help looking up books or finding experts on a particular topic.
This is a pretty amazing mom and pop restaurant located in Temple City and you’ll need to carry cash. Their spicy beef noodle soup is iconic and they are also renowned for their hand-pulled noodles.
Joy is one of my favorite spots in Highland Park. If I could start every day with their thousand layer pancake, I would (get all the fixings on it). Truthfully, I’ve eaten too many thousand layer pancakes, simply because they are irresistible. Their hot and sour soup with beech mushrooms and dan dan noodles are also exceptional.
Situated in Silver Lake this is a lovely restaurant that has both indoor and outdoor seating. Some of my regular items on their menu include their dan noodles, beef roll, mapo tofu, and passion fruit boba tea.
I’ve eaten at both their Chinatown and Pasadena locations and they specialize in Mandarin and Szechuan cuisines. Their dumplings and the sizzling fish platter plate are some of my favorites.
Listen to NPR - The Weekend Edition Sunday to learn how dim sum plays an important role in community building and how COVID affected the Chinese community.
For the second half of today's newsletter it's a new format - a short photo essay. Last week we spent a couple of days visiting my in-laws in Virginia and we were right on time, the leaves were just starting to turn, and the Blue Ridge Mountains were absolutely spectacular in their glorious shades of autumn. Here’s a collection of some of the photos from the farm and our trip to Mount Rodgers National Recreation Area. In case you're planning a trip, this is the time to go see the leaves change. My mother-in-law also put together a gorgeous charcuterie board (no it wasn't for 4 people, we're a large family) complete with local cheeses, homemade preserves and jams, crackers, meats, and bugles among other things.
We wrapped up our trip in Asheville, NC and I finally got the chance to eat at the famous Chai Pani restaurant by Chef Meherwan Irani. The menu is centered around Indian street food and the food served in cafes, more specifically, it brought back wonderful memories of growing up in Bombay. Add this one to your list of must-visit restaurant (they also have a second location in Decatur, GA).
Later this week, we're going to take a short break from fall cooking and cooking some Indian food because November 5th is Diwali - the Indian Hindu festival of lights. Keep an eye out, you won't want to miss this one!