A closer look at Asian American night markets: Ramen Burgers & Kimchi Fries calore

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 5.01.44 PM

Audrey Magazine:

Ramen burgers, kimchi fries and pho tacos. Stinky tofu. Spiral-cut fried potato skewers sprinkled with a variety of seasonings. And balls — lots and lots of balls: curry fish balls, fried yam balls, takoyaki squid and octopus balls, kimchi fried rice balls with DMZ sauce, gourmet rice balls with honey Sriracha, crispy tofu balls covered with Vietnamese green crisped rice and spicy orange aioli. Truly, the wealth of options at an Asian American night market can be overwhelming for an attendee. After all, we only have one stomach.

Last October’s OC Night Market — the latest extension of the 626 Night Market that has since branched out from Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley (home of the 626 area code) into downtown Los Angeles and Orange County — was filled with over 200 vendors competing with each other for the attention of 60,000 potential customers. Sometimes that involved shouting Korean BBQ menu items from a loudspeaker or flashing eye- catching disco lights; sometimes it took three half-naked Asian girls encouraging onlookers to buy delicious Vietnamese coffee. But the most effective and envied form of attraction was a long line of customers, signifying the food must be worth the wait.

Though many Asian countries have their versions of outdoor food markets — from Singaporean hawker centres to Korean pojangmacha — the term “night market” was popularized in Taiwan, where these nighttime food markets still remain a key attraction for foreign tourists visiting the country, eager to experience the noisy atmosphere, crowded food stalls, mouth-watering smells and cheap eats that you consume on the spot (or while walking in search of your next snack). According to Taiwan’s government information site, food bazaars that operated at night in ancient China were originally called ghost markets, and contemporary-style night markets began to appear in Taiwanese cities during the turn of the century, when the government actively set aside blocks of streets for permanent night markets.

For Asian immigrants and their second-generation children, night markets elicit fond memories. “I always remember visiting the night markets with my family and friends to eat all different kinds of food,” says Jonny Hwang, the founder of 626 Night Market, who was born in Taiwan but immigrated to the U.S. when he was a child. So when his family relocated to Alhambra, a suburb of Los Angeles with a large Chinese and Taiwanese immigrant population, he wondered, why didn’t they have one?

There are tons of little businesses and good restaurants, but they all have Chinese menus and signage, so it can be very foreign and intimidating to outsiders,” he says. “Because so much good food is hidden, I thought a night market would be a great showcase for the talent and entrepreneurs in the area.

Hwang had heard of a couple successful night markets in Vancouver, as well as previous attempts to start a night market in Southern California that didn’t work out. Assuming it had to do with the challenges working with health departments and government agencies, he and his partners went straight to different cities of the San Gabriel Valley with a night market proposal, figuring that if they had the government backing them, the entire process would be a lot easier.

At first, most of the cities in the area were not interested. “The people running their events recreation departments didn’t even know what night markets were, because they weren’t Asian,” says Hwang. “Which is kind of sad, because they serve a very Asian population. They were used to doing their Lunar New Year Festivals, so they figured they already had an Asian event.”

Pasadena was the only place that was interested, because they happened to have an initiative to attract more Asian businesses to the area. So the very first 626 Night Market was scheduled for April 2012, with plans to shut down a couple streets in Old Town Pasadena for the event.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 5.05.16 PM

Hwang’s team was optimistic that they could get 8,000 attendees, but the Pasadena special events folks, who had years of experience planning signature events like the Tournament of Roses parade, tempered their expectations. As first-time organizers, they’d be lucky to get 500 people to attend, they were told. But come event time, Hwang says the team had mobilized hundreds of thousands of people — many of whom ended up stuck in long lines, trapped in walkways like sardines or unable to even get in.

If we had gotten 8,000 to 10,000 people throughout the day, it probably would have been OK,” says Hwang. “But people were coming from Orange County and Riverside, and all the way from San Diego and Las Vegas.” The surrounding freeways and side streets were packed. A police chopper had to monitor the traffic jams and crowds from above.

Though it seemed like a disaster to attendees (many of whom blasted the event through angry Yelp comments), business-wise, it was a huge success. Vendors were happy because they all sold out, and most importantly, it proved that there was a huge demand for a night market. The 626 team learned a lot of things, and soon, the other cities that had originally shunned their proposal came knocking.

Though 626 Night Market was not the first night market in America — Night Market Philadelphia, for example, though not focused on Asian cuisine, began in 2010 — it has made the biggest impact.

626 are the ones that really started this night market hype,” says Jeff Shimamoto of The Original Ramen Burger, whose ramen-bun burgers have been a fan favorite since his brother Keizo debuted it in New York in the summer of 2013. “Our type of food probably wouldn’t have existed in a regular food market. It’s when the Asian night markets started popping up that we were able to participate.

Shimamoto now has a brick-and-mortar of sorts, offering The Original Ramen Burger at a take-out window in Los Angeles’s Koreatown. Tonight, he’s hanging out at the adjacent Lock and Key bar with his fellow night market veteran friends, Phillip and Carol Kwan of Mama Musubi (who specialize in a gourmet version of onigiri rice balls, a popular Japanese snack) and Matthew Hui of Fluff Ice (a Taiwanese-inspired snowflake ice that takes flavored ice blocks and shaves them into what they call “frozen cotton candy”). They’re celebrating the end of another busy and successful night market season.

Since 626 debuted, night markets have opened up in other areas of Southern California, like Koreatown and Little Saigon in Westminster. Hwang himself was contacted for advice or collaboration requests from groups who wanted to start their own night markets in San Jose, San Diego and St. Paul. There are now night markets in Seattle, Honolulu and New York, and the list goes on. Even the team behind Studio City’s Sportsmen’s Lodge 1st Thursdays Night Market, who Hwang remembers jokingly called themselves “the white night market,” wanted in on the action. Now, you might be thinking, isn’t a Caucasian night market just … a fair? Like every single county fair in America? But this was just an indication of how the term “night market” was catching on. It had looped back into the mainstream.

Benjamin Kang, one of the organizers of the KTOWN Night Market and the MPK Night Market in Monterey Park, California (both debuted in 2014), believes it’s a good time for night markets because Asian culture is trending more than it ever has in America. “All my white friends want to come to Koreatown,” he says, laughing, citing the Koreatown episode of Anthony Bourdain’s CNN show Parts Unknown, as well as the numerous Asian American chefs on mainstream TV cooking shows. “They’re always asking me what the best Chinese or Japanese restaurants are in L.A.”

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 5.05.28 PM

I think the food industry revolves around the Asian population,” says Hui of Fluff Ice. “When all the Asian people think it’s cool, then the non-Asians flock to it. Because all the foodies on Yelp are Asian girls named Grace or Nancy.” He laughs. “The Yelp elite start reviewing all these places, and they become the definitive source.”

While 626 Night Market also had creative entertainment to go along with the food — Asian American performers, live art battles, eating competitions and the unveiling of the new Guinness World Record for the largest cup of boba milk tea — KTOWN Night Market made use of their Korean American showbiz connections, bringing together high-profile food celebrities, like the guys behind Seoul Sausage Company, who won Season 3 of the Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race, as well as musicians like rappers Dumbfoundead and Shin-B. Six months later, KTOWN Night Market also hosted a Halloween Food Fest, where there were costume contests and carnival rides.

“Night markets in Asia are open all the time, so they don’t make a festival out of it,” says Shimamoto. “But here, they turn it into a big event, and that’s what makes it fun. We have concerts and beer gardens. And that’s why we get so many people concentrated at one time.”

The Kwans launched Mama Musubi at the first 626 Night Market in 2012. The brother-and-sister duo wanted to test the market and see what people thought about fresh Japanese rice balls. Would people get their gourmet version — with 24-hour braised Berkshire pork belly — or would they assume it was the same as the refrigerated kinds you can get at Mitsuwa supermarkets? Turns out, there was excitement for rice balls not only in the night markets but in non-Asian markets like the Altadena Farmer’s Market, where they are regulars. But though they work these markets and also cater, their ultimate goal is to launch their own store.

Similarly, The Original Ramen Burger started participating in night markets in Los Angeles because California foodies were asking for it. They do pretty well, but they see night markets as a transition into eventually running four to five restaurant franchises.

There are two crowds of vendors at the night market,” says Phillip Kwan. “Vendors like us who have long-term visions of opening up brick-and-mortars. And others that make a comfortable living for themselves doing festival-type events.”

Some vendors may have a full-time job on the side. Others might be there just for fun. “On the last day of the night market, there were these 15 Vietnamese ladies from Orange County [in the booth next to us],” remembers Shimamoto. “They showed up four hours before everybody else, and they were all perky and ready to go with all their juices. And they said, ‘We all go to the same church, and we decided we were going to come out here and try and sell some lemonade!’” He laughs. “And that’s great! Maybe they’re just doing it once a month for a little money. Or maybe they could become the next Mrs. Fields Cookies. Either way, they were just so happy to be there.”

Hwang encourages it all. “In the beginning, most of our vendors had stores, but we really encourage the ones who don’t,” he says. “It’s such a good platform for people to try new ideas for cheap. Just do it for one weekend. If it’s good and you like it, then do it again. Those are the types of food you can’t eat anywhere else. You have to go to our event to find them.”

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 5.05.41 PM

Phil and I think that the model for starting a restaurant is going to start changing,” says Shimamoto. “In Los Angeles, you see a lot of restaurants come and go. But [working the night markets] is a way you lower your overhead and costs, and it’s a great way to get some exposure while retaining flexibility to work on other things, like food trucks or developing your brick-and-mortar.”

Even Fluff Ice, which already had a store in Monterey Park when 626 first opened, found that attending night markets is just a good way to network, advertise and grow your business. “There’s just so many layers of income you can get with a business like this, whether it’s night markets, school fundraisers or Hollywood catering,” says Hui, who has catered for How I Met Your Mother, Parks & Recreation, The Office and the upcoming film Paranormal Activity 5. They now have four locations in Southern California.

But these Asian American night markets aren’t without its skeptics. In Taiwan, you go to the night market because you’re craving certain foods, whether it be oyster pancakes, ba-wan (Taiwanese meatballs wrapped in gelatinous dough) or aiyu jelly drinks. You’re also expecting a certain atmosphere — makeshift stalls where you see and smell the food being prepared right in front of you — and a certain experience, a.k.a. cheap stuff, whether it be food, shopping or games.

In the beginning, that was the source of some of the disappointment for night market goers in America. It didn’t look right — health codes in the U.S. require covered canopies so it looked like a typical fair. It’s not cheap: there’s usually a cover charge of $5 to $10 just to get in, and everything, even a tiny plate, usually costs at least $5 (which adds up!). And there was a random mix of foods, both Asian and non-Asian, that weren’t necessarily what you thought of as “street food.” (One vendor at a recent KTOWN Night Market was serving up 100 percent grass-fed, organic, pasture-raised Australian bone-in lamb.)

But I think that’s what makes us different in a good way,” says Hwang. “If you think about the night markets in Asia, it’s all the same foods. We always get a good amount of vendors that are new or tweaking their menu, and it’s exciting to see people experimenting with new things — whether it’s fusion foods like the ramen burger, pho tacos and new types of guabao [Taiwanese pork belly buns] — or if they’re bringing in traditional stuff that we never had before, like yam balls and chicken sausages. It’s a competitive marketplace, so you have to be creative. Don’t do the usual things, or if you do, figure out how you can do it differently.”

You can’t be stale,” agrees Carol Kwan, who recently collaborated with the Shimamoto brothers to create a one-month-only specialty mash-up: the Mama Musubi 24-hour Pork Belly Ramen Burger. “It’s the same even if you’re in a restaurant. You have to innovate and keep creating something new to keep people coming.”

That said, for every food item that’s worth waiting for in the night market lines, there are many, many more that are underwhelming and overpriced. It’s also hard to tell whether something is innovative or just gimmicky, and with so many copycat renditions of almost the same idea (there’s a reason Ramen Burger changed its name to The Original Ramen Burger), it’s tempting to assume the latter.

But one can only hope that the truly tasty, fusion or not, rises to the top — that the prevalence of night markets are giving those gems a place to grow and a community of like-minded food fans a place to gather.

One of the major pluses [of the night markets] is how it impacts the current and hopefully the next generation of Asian Americans,” says Christine Chiao, a food writer who’s contributed to LA Weekly and Sunset. “A regular or seasonal night market can be a platform for more than just the vendors. It can become a channel, too, for young Asian American attendees to seek and express their identity.”

So did Hwang ever imagine that the 626 Night Market he created would become such a cultural touchstone?

Not really,” he says. “At first I really did it for fun, as a side thing, because I knew it’d be something that people would enjoy. I never thought I’d end up working full time to produce night markets.” He laughs. “Who goes to college thinking that? It’s surreal.”


Six Koreatown restaurants with great banchan

“Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty”: The largest Hello Kitty retrospective ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America


In celebration of the 40th anniversary of everyone’s favorite expressionless cat, the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles is hosting the largest ever retrospective on Hello Kitty to be held in the United States.

Titled “Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty,” the exhibition encompasses a selection of rare and unique Hello Kitty-branded items chosen from the Sanrio archives, alongside contemporary artworks by artists including Buff Monster, Edwin UshiroPaul Frank and Kozyndan. In these art pieces, the iconic feline is reinterpreted into a number of wonderfully weird and wacky mélanges of disparate pop culture motifs, in doing so paying homage to Hello Kitty’s wide-ranging impact on art and culture throughout its 40 years in the limelight.

Curated by Christine Yano, author of Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek Across the Pacific, and Jamie Rivadeneira, founder and owner of the Los Angeles pop culture boutique JapanLA, you can buy your tickets for this retrospective here before it ends in April 2015.



Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

 Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Image of "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" is the Largest Hello Kitty Retrospective Ever in America

Ramen Burger hits LA with brick and mortar location in K-Town

Ramen Burger



The famous Ramen Burger has hit LA several times now, most recently at the DTLA Night Market, but it looks like Keizo Shimamoto is looking to make his signature creation a staple here in SoCal.

Ramen Burger LA’s new location will take over a walk-up window in K-Town currently known as Stall 239. The stall serves fusion style grub to night owls wandering the streets of LA but will serve favorites from Shimamoto’s menu, including his new Ramen Fries, during two soft opening events on July 5 (1:00PM-6:00PM) and July 13 (2:00PM-8:00PM) ahead of its August 1, 2014 official soft opening.

The location is fairly small so we’re assuming lines these next two weekends will be pretty long for the East Coast transplant. Hopefully Shimamoto gauges how to deal with the crowds before the first Ramen Burger LA location opens.



The Line Hotel: An industrial midcentury hotel in Koreatown (L.A.) opens it doors


LA’s not short of hotels, but when one as intriguingly styled as The Line opens its doors it’s impossible not to sit up and take notice. Situated in the bustling and frenetic heart of Koreatown, this glamorous luxury boutique fuses raw, unfinished brickwork with an idiosyncratic mix of vintage finds, repurposed items and high-end designer furniture for an unorthodox yet strangely well-balanced aesthetic from designer Sean Knibb.
The restaurant, POT, is headed up by renowned chef Roy Choi, and serves up an appropriate array of Korean-American cuisine made largely using home-grown vegetables.
It’s open for business now, so to learn more or make a booking just head over to their website.
Check out this link:
No. 06 / 17


Here is everything you need to know about Jollibee, a little-known Filipino fast food chain



While Jollibee has continuously out-shined fast food giants back home in the Philippines, it’s a little-known secret here in the States. Despite its expansion to US cities like Los Angeles and Cerritos, the chain remains relatively unknown outside of the Filipino community. Yet within this community it has become a beloved staple of Filipino-American childhoods, with a curious menu featuring pancit noodles next to fried chicken and burgers.

For those of you unfamiliar with the chain, here are the three things you need to know about Jollibee:

1. It’s the Filipino McDonald’s meets KFC, but better. Disagree at your own risk.

2. Do not leave any Jollibee without getting the spaghetti and fried chicken combo. Your face will melt off.

3. The mascot is a huge red and yellow bumblebee with a dainty chef hat, also known as Juicy J (unrelated to the rapper).

We ventured to a location in Eagle Rock, LA to peek the offerings and asked the cashier to hit us with the most popular dishes.

This is what we got:





This ladies and gents, is fast food halo halo. A deliciously blasphemous take on a traditional Filipino dessert. Comes loaded with ube ice cream, a chunk of leche flan, sweetened condensed milk and a mix of sugar-infused crack fruit and jellies under a bed of shaved iced.


Also peek the Ube Pearl Cooler with boba (purple) and Buko Pandan Pearl Cooler with boba (green).



Fiesta Noodles


Dubbed “Fiesta Noodles” for American palates, the chain does a pretty decent job of recreating pancit palabok – a Filipino favorite of rice noodles doused in garlic sauce, chopped pork, shrimp, slices of hard-boiled eggs and parsley flakes.


Amazing Aloha


A burger with a beef patty topped with a thick pineapple ring and an inglorious amount of bacon. Basically Jollibee’s interpretation of the whopper but better. Oh so much better.


Chicken Joy and Spaghetti Combo


It’s important to note that Filipino spaghetti is loaded with banana ketchup, which gives it a distinct extra sweet taste. Jollibee’s version of this features their own sweet spaghetti sauce packed with chopped up ham, sausage, ground beef and melted cheese. Then there’s the fact that they serve fried chicken. Seriously. Heaven has landed.



Peach Mango Pie and Banana Langka Pie




Taking a cue from McDonald’s classic apple pies, Jollibee tweaks the recipe to include flavors that cater to Filipino cuisine. Think flaky, sweet crust filled with slices of peach and mango or banana and langka (jackfruit).


13th Annual Los Angeles Lantern Festival hits downtown L.A. March 1st

Angry Asian Man: 


Los Angeles! Join the Chinese American Museum for the 13th Annual Los Angeles Lantern Festival on Saturday, March 1. There will be food and live entertainment from the YouTube comedy duo the Fung Brothers, music from Connie Lim, comedy from our homegirl Jenny Yang, and beats from DJ Phatrick. The event is free.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s happening that day:

13th Annual Los Angeles Lantern Festival

Join the fun beneath colorful lanterns in the vibrance of Downtown L.A. for the Chinese American Museum’s free signature event. The 13th annual Los Angeles Lantern Festival brings traditional Chinese performances as well as contemporary Chinese American entertainment, music, food trucks with Chinese and Taiwanese-inspired snacks and beverages and, for the first time, a beer garden. At dusk, the lighted Silver Dragon will wind its way through El Pueblo de Los Angeles Plaza. Come and see rising Chinese American stars, including Internet sensations THE FUNG BROTHERS, popular singer CONNIE LIM, comedienne JENNY YANG, and dance to the masterful beat of DEEJAY PHATRICK. Children and their families will enjoy a wide variety of hands-on arts & crafts along with shadow puppets, acrobats, dancers, martial artists, and much more.

Presented by the Chinese American Museum and El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument at the birthplace of Los Angeles and Old Chinatown

Saturday, March 1
12 noon to 10 p.m.

Chinese American Museum
425 North Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(Located across from Union Station at El Pueblo Plaza)

LALF’14 represents a departure from commercially-based street festivals, with its primary focus on community-building and education. The free festival encourages the public to celebrate Chinese America and embraces CAM’s mission by fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of America’s diverse heritage by sharing the history, cultural legacy, and continuing contributions of Chinese Americans.

For more information, including the full lineup, visit the Chinese American Museum website.

Check out this link:

13th Annual Los Angeles Lantern Festival hits downtown L.A. March 1st


Japanese American museum hosts Year of the Horse festival


LA Times:

Japanese American National Museum in downtown Los Angeles. (Lori Shepler/Los Angeles Times.)

It’s festival time at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown Los Angeles. 

In celebration of the Year of the Horse, the Japanese American National Museum is hosting a festival Sunday that includes pony rides, candy sculpting and food, like buckwheat noodles eaten for good luck.

The Oshogatsu Family Festival, celebrating the New Year, is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m, at the downtown museum at 100 N. Central Avenue. The event will feature origami (the art of paper-folding), an onigiri (rice balls) making contest, and the raffling every hour from noon to the close of the festival of horse candy sculptures by artist Shan Ichiyanagi. The events are free to the public.

This is our family festival, which we provide for the public to celebrate the new year, taking Japanese traditions and also integrating some Japanese-American traditions as well,” said Helen Ota, external affairs officer for the museum.

The event will also feature Japanese music and dance, as well as Zen archery performances, Ota said.

Check out this link:


Monterey Park’s controversial ‘modern Latin alphabet’ sign ordinance squashed


The Southern California city of Monterey Park — which boasts a 70% Asian population — has been wrestling with a controversial proposed ordinance that would have required English on all business signs. The City Council last Wednesday unanimously voted to allow a controversial “modern Latin alphabetordinance to die during its second reading.

Had the regulation passed, businesses with only logographic script, such as Chinese characters or Sanskrit, would have had to add letters that English speakers could read phonetically, even if the word itself cannot be found in a dictionary.

All of Monterey Park’s business signs technically comply. So Betty Hung, policy director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, said the proposed ordinance is unnecessary. In fact, it violates the constitutionally protected notions of free speech, equal protection and due process, she said.

 “We recommend that the City Council consider an alternate approach, which has been called the ‘harmony resolution,’ ” Hung said.

Such a resolution would encourage businesses to hang signs in several languages. The City Council instructed staff to keep track of business sign applications and to note any signs that don’t have the modern Latin alphabet. City Council members said they want to review the list every six months.

Since the ordinance was proposed several months ago, officials have received about 200 sign applications, according to city staff. Those applications included modern Latin lettering.

The City Council unanimously decided to consider AAAJ’s harmony resolution at a future date.

Wednesday was the fourth time the sign ordinance was brought before the City Council.

Even Mark Keppel High School students ­— a population that rarely gets involved in city politics — spoke up. Students talked about how GPS and mobile apps such as Yelp make finding businesses simple.

About 10 speakers spoke in favor of passing the ordinance. Betty Tom Chu, former Monterey Park mayor, said she could read only about 20 words in Chinese even though she is ethnically Chinese.

“It is your duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of our residents, and your failure to do so constitutes negligence, which will subject the city to much more lawsuits,” said Chu, a former attorney.

Monterey Park previously had an ordinance mandating business signs be in English. The city attorney deemed the rule unconstitutional and eliminated it.

Councilman Mitchell Ing said there was no public outrage over the outdated English ordinance. It was in the municipal code for 27 years.

In fact, cities such as San Marino, Torrance, San Gabriel, Rosemead and Arcadia still have laws that require business signs lettered in English or the Roman alphabet, Ing said. Many of those communities faced racial turmoil similar to that which Monterey Park faced in the 1980s.

A “fear” of a return to xenophopia was resurrected when the modern sign ordinance was introduced, resident Henry Lo said.

There’s a concern that inadvertently we may be repeating history, a history going back to the ’80s when this city was divided,” he said. “And I think a lot of the people here tonight don’t want to repeat that history, a history that is well-known, not only by its residents but also others outside of Monterey Park. It’s well-documented in history books.”

Check out this link:

Monterey Park’s controversial ‘modern Latin alphabet’ sign ordinance squashed


4 great Beijing-style restaurants in Los Angeles…


Beijing has been the capital of China for centuries and its food is reflective of the dynasties that reigned there. Mongolian rulers of the Yuan Dynasty were reportedly fond of mutton, and the Manchus of the Qing Dynasty loved roast pig and offal. Accordingly, Northern Chinese food as a whole leans toward rich and salty tones; the cuisine is strong on meat and dough. Dumplings, noodles, and meat pies are common items, as are once-imperial delicacies like Peking duck and bird’s nest.

KCET rounded up four great restaurants in the Los Angeles area with their favorite Beijing-style dishes.

Duck House


Though the majority of their menu is Taiwanese-influenced, Duck House specializes in Peking duck. The preparation method for Peking duck is labor intensive. In China, where it’s the national dish, ducklings are force-fed for weeks until they reach a weight of between 11 and 15 pounds. At Duck House, you must reserve your bird at least an hour in advance, but it’s well-worth the planning. There are three different price levels; the cheapest ($35.95) will get you a soup, duck, thin flour pancakes, scallion and cucumber garnish, and a sweet and salty bean spread. There’s an entire process to it: take the pancake, spread some sauce, add the duck, a single slice of its crispy maltose-glazed skin, and lastly, a handful of julienned cucumber and scallions. Fold in half (or burrito-style) and enjoy. 501 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754; (626) 284-3227.

China Islamic Restaurant


China Islamic in Rosemead is a Beijing halal specialist. Pork is dutifully avoided, but that doesn’t indicate a shortage of meat. China Islamic is heavy on mutton and beef, and they’re also one of the few places in town with toothsome knife-shaved noodles. Noodle options are plentiful but if you’re really torn, we suggest the lamb noodle soup ($8.95) — a fantastic blend of lamb, cellophane noodles, seaweed, and Napa cabbage. It’ll make for a delightful meal, best consumed on a cold Los Angeles evening. 7727 E. Garvey Ave., Rosemead; 626-288-4246.

Beijing Pie House


If you’re a fan of juicy soup dumplings and potstickers, this is the place for you. The pies in question are these wonderful discs called xianbing. They’re massive meat pies, stuffed with marinated chunks of meat. Pan-fried and bursting at the seams with hot, fragrant oil, these discs are the crack pies of Los Angeles. Pair them with sambal sauce if needed, but they’re perfectly fine by themselves. 846 E Garvey Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91755; (626) 288-3818.

Peking Tavern


Peking Tavern is a gastropub in downtown Los Angeles with food and drink concoctions inspired by the Forbidden City. They’re the only bar (that we know of) that serves baijiu in their cocktails, a potent liquor at roughly 40 to 60 percent alcohol that’s famous for its fuel-like odor and lingering aftertaste. Dishes are all no-frills traditional Northern Chinese bites. What that means in a nutshell: lots of dough, noodles, and dumplings. Noodles are handmade daily and the process can be seen through a glassed-in station near the door. 806 South Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90014; (213) 988-8308.

(* Article and photos by Clarissa Wei, Assistant Producer of New Media at KCET and “foodist with a knack for Chinese cuisine“)

Check out this link: