About jp 吉平

john patrick | 吉平 is a former superhero from seattle | usa

Falling on my head like a memory

I woke up this morning in Seattle. It’s Thursday morning and raining on the top of Queen Anne.  I’m sitting in Café Diablo with my sister, who is working.  I have a hair cut in a few minutes. It’s raining.


Yesterday I left the Central Library and walked around the corner to meet my sister. We did a spontaneous #AsianSquatBomb from across the street.

 

Later we went to Go Poke in the ID; I had a poke salad bowl and my sister had a poke maki burrito, a “pokerrito.” The poke is actually poke (marinated before you get there) but they serve it in the bowl over rice, salad or rolled up with nori in a maki. It’s not the assembly-line, mixed to order Chipokle that’s sprouting up all over Southern California. It’s kind of like Hawaii, in that it’s actually poke, and it’s kind of like California in that they want to put edamame in it. None of the poke at Go Poke is mixed with ocean salad, thank goodness, because that is some bullshit.

Later, I dropped off my sister at her meeting with the Teamsters and went to the big and tall store to buy jeans. Here’s the deal; it’s 110ºF where I work in California right now, and when I was packing my clothes to come up to Seattle they told me I might need long pants but I definitely didn’t need anything as heavy as jeans. That, my friends, is a mess; it’s 57ºF and rainy here, and while I don’t mind the cold and the rain, I do need jeans for this.

The lady there at the big and tall store was throwing clothes at me to try on; she picked out seven pairs of pants for me to try, plus sweatshirts, aloha shirts, dress shirts… in the end I left with one pair of jeans, because a) one pair of jeans was my objective in the first place and b) everything else there was too big for me.  You guys, I’m graduating from the big and tall store; which is a mess, because I hate shopping at other places, but there we are.

Afterward, I went to pick my sister up at the Teamsters, and there was a vaquero in the parking lot practicing his lazo!  Loop loop loop, around the head, over the head, behind the head, all the while talking lackadaisically to someone on the phone through his earbud. I didn’t ask to take a picture.

Later, as we were pulling out to leave, I noticed that the Teamsters Local 174 has a painted semi-truck, that says “Teamsters” in huge letters on the container:

  • T is the Space Needle,
  • E is the Monorail,
  • A is the Kerry Park view of the cLink,
  • M is the market sign,
  • S is a ferry,
  • T is a HUGE ORCA JUMPING OUT OF THE WATER,
  • E is the old Seattle’s Best neon coffee mug, the
  • R is the Kerry Park view of the Key with the mountain in the background,
  • S is Coleman Dock

Of course I had to take a selfie with it, and then there were the obligatory #AsianSquatBombs; some members of 174 were TOTALLY INTO #AsianSquatBombs and joined us.

 

Today I got my hair trimmed in the ID and had lunch at Aladdin’s Gyro-cery, which I’ve been going to for 27 years and has always been really good. I remember coming home from NYC and eating a gyro there, and just being relieved to be home to soft pita, rotisserie-crisped gyros, and what I consider to be appropriate salt levels.  Now that I’m a vegetarian I ordered the falafel; it was more lemony than I expected; the best was the chunky baba ganoush.

New haircut

As I drove on Campus Parkway to Wallingford I remembered a conversation I had in 1996 about getting from the U-district to Gasworks:

Me: So you just go down Roosevelt and you take the Secret Right…

甲 (interrupting): I HATE THE SECRET RIGHT BECAUSE IT’S LIKE, OOH, I’M A SECRET…

乙 (interrupting): Ooh, not me, I LOVE the Secret Right because it’s like, OOH I’M A SECRET…

I don’t remember the identities of 甲 and 乙 are anymore, I just remember the story, that their reasons for loving and hating the same Secret Right were the exact same words with different intonation.

Finally, it’s raining here. Not hard rain at all, but honest-to-God Seattle rain. It is not “tearing me apart like a new emotion.” I don’t mind it at all; in fact I feel just as at home in my new jeans and a hoody in this rain than this snail that crossed my path this morning.

 

I love Summer Break

Yesterday I met my friends Delridge D and Aloha C and his family in Pike Place Market. I got there a little early so I could walk around, which was a mistake because I wanted to eat everything I saw.  I met my friends where you always meet people at the Market  and then had lunch at the Athenian. By the way, the peaches are delicious this week and the green garlic shoots are huge.

After lunch we walked a little through the Market and showed the kids Victor Steinbruck Park, Piroshky Piroshky, the Beecher’s Cheese factory, the Gum Wall.

Later, there was little drive up to Kerry Park where Aloha C and I talked about firehouse recipes and strong feet. It was really good to see them. Aloha C said something amazing that I wanted to blog about, but I forgot. I walked home to my sister’s apartment from there.

Later my sister, Tico K, and I went to Kirkland to see Cowsin L and K’s month-old son. Along the way we stopped at Dakshin South Indian Bistro and I relapsed into my alarming addiction for South Indian vegetarian curries and dosas. It’s a problem. Later I got to hug my new nephew, who before I know it will be able to hold up his own head, speak English fluently, and marvel at how old I am.


Today I got up early and had breakfast at the 5 Spot; two eggs and “tempeh bacon.” Later I rode into Belltown with my sister on her way to work, and had her drop me off at Bedlam. I thought that from there, I would meet my friend 딤씨 at Tofully at noon.  At about 20 minutes to noon, I realized that Tofully was way down under the Chinatown Gate in the ID, so I hoofed it down to the bus tunnel and ran to a train, just as the door closed in my face and the train pulled away.

I did a set of air squats wating for the next train and stretched my hamstrings.  I don’t feel great about doing good mornings in the bus tunnel, it looks less like exercise than air squats.

A man passed me on the street, and as he passed I said hello; he greeted me at the same time and shook my hand. He said, I have a riddle for you, what’s the best vitamin for a friendship?

What’s the best vitamin for friendship?

I answered “Vitamin A” but I said “Vitamin Ehhhh”

He said, What the best vitamin for friendship?  B1 (Be one).

He told me second riddle, which I have disgracefully forgotten, but it was just as good.  Later he said, “I saw your face and I thought you looked a little down, just wanted to get a smile out of you.”

I smiled and thanked him and remembered what Memphis D told me back in Ann Arbor 20 years ago, that people of color should greet each other. That’s one of my favorite customs now.


I had a quick lunch with 딤씨 and ate a lot of tofu and it was magically delicious. 딤씨 and I talked about the Diversity Committee (and how it’s a trap), Wonder Woman, commutes, hard-headed family members, everything.

Later, walking up 4th Avenue, a man came out of the YMCA and said hello as he came around the corner, I managed to mumble a hello back, and I immediately noticed that it was the same man’s picture on the sandwich board.  I turned around and wanted to yell, hey that’s you on the sandwich board! But decided that was a weird thing to yell. He had just put on his sunglasses anyway.

I walked passed all the cool places today; Chinatown Gate in the ID, King Street Station, Occidental Park, the Pioneer Square Pergola, Waterfall Park. I’m currently hanging out in the reading room of the Central Library.

Not sure what’s next.  I have an Orca Card in my pocket, a belly full of tofu, and not much else to do. I love summer break.

 

 

I used to live here.

It’s summer break and I’m back in Seattle.  It’s cold here; 53º F (not even 12ºC) and drizzly.  I asked my social network if it’s cold here; they said, “no.”  I asked if I have to bring long pants, they said “no denim.”  Both of those answers are correct Pacific Northwest answers, but they are dead wrong to someone who’s been living in southern California for the last two years.  It’s cold.

I’m not complaining, though; I just miss having a functional reason to wear jeans.

I found myself orchestrating a lunch reunion today with a local friend and some friends visiting from out of town. And I don’t even live here anymore! Old habits die hard, I guess.

Speaking of old habits, here’s where I’ve been eating:

  • Kozue. There was a huge line at Musashi’s and another huge line at Issian. I had long considered Kozue to be a the sad alternative; too hungry to go somewhere else. It surprised me that it was really good. Sushi culture is different in California, and I am sure I carried some of that baggage with me. I was pleasantly surprised that my miso wasn’t served with a ramen spoon, and that none of our nigiri’s were duplicates, and that the maki we ordered weren’t dressed with a squirt bottle.  Also, the fish was delicious.
  • El camión. I got a fish taco, a shrimp taco, and split a veggie tamal.  The tamal is spectacular; Salvadoran style brick of pudding-like masa wrapped in banana leaf.
  • Ivar’s Fish Bar. I have exposimatated in the past on fish and chips in Seattle. I think I eat more fish and chips than most people I know. Seattlites often look at Ivar’s Fish Bar as the most obvious, saddest excuse for fish and chips in Seattle.  Here’s what I know:  it’s Alaskan True Cod, it’s cooked to perfection by people who know when fried fish is done by eyeballing it (rather than looking at egg timers like Spud) so the fish isn’t overcooked (like at Spud). They give me a slice of lemon when I ask for it, and the white chowder tastes like heavy cream. There is an amazing view. That’s what I know.
  • Finally, my sister’s adobong pusit.  My sister H knows more about adobong pusit that I do, and her recipe is the neutronbomb.  She says it’s basically a calamares en su tinta or chipirones en su tinta recipe, only filipino adobo style; which means there’s a clear flavor of apple cider vinegar cutting through the richness of squid ink. At one point she was reducing tomatoes so I don’t even know; alls I know is that it was rich and vinegary and squiddy all at once.  We ate it with diced tomatoes and rice and did an reminisced about Barcelona E’s reluctant ambivalence about eating squid, which I shall here reducing to an imperfect haiku:

Barcelona E’s Regretful Ambivalence toward eating Squid, a Haiku:

Gender deception
Indicates theory of self!
Yet, so delicious!

 Also, my sister made tea leaf eggs. I just ate two, they are delicious. 

Quality of Life

Right now:  sitting in Caffè Fiore at the top of Queen Anne.  I walked here, and it felt good and the neighborhood is awesome. I ordered an americano and a mini veggie quiche and paid with my phone, and tipped with cash. The americano was kick ass.  The quiche was delicious. Locals and tourists are rolling in with bed head. They are paying Stan Getz over the speakers. I have nothing to grade. The sun just broke through the clouds. Nobody is talking too loud.

A few years ago my friend Barcelona E was here to visit.  I had taken her to Columbia City Bakery, which was my neighborhood bakery at the time. Barcelona E was in the middle of picking up her croissant when she asked me the question, “JP, what is so special about Seattle?”

Back when I was in Michigan I used to my mouth about how Seattle was a better place, something which I still believe. I was fully aware that people found it obnoxious, but I just had a hard time believing that anyone would choose to live in other places. Honestly, I tried to be kind about it.

Anyway, Barcelona E was here, in Seattle with me, in my neighborhood bakery, about to take a bite of her croissant, asking me the question that probably had occured to her twenty years prior, before my diabetes diagnosis, before I spoke Mandarin, before her daughters were born, before she spoke German.

“JP, what is so special about Seattle?”

Before I could answer, she took a bite of her croissant, and put it back down on her plate, looking at it, and saying casually, “Oh, quality of life.  I understand now. ”

I didn’t have to explain anything to her with words. Not that I could, I was laughing pretty hard. Sometimes being friends with people from Spain is like living in a movie script.

Later on, Barcelona E scolded me for allowing her to put sugar in her coffee, she told me if she had known the coffee would be high quality, she wouldn’t have put sugar in it, and it was my fault. You gotta give people a heads up.

Anyway, back in the present:

  •  A dude just walked in and started talking scones with the barista, in a way that you know the man is obsessed with scone theory. People in this town go on obsessive inward journeys to make a perfect product. It seems unhealthy when you meet them, but then you taste their beer/coffee/bagel/liquor/croissant.
  • A dude sitting across from me is talking about his trip to China. He’s saying he can no longer 請 his family members (he can’t treat them to a meal) because they could all pay with their phones (they scan a QR code) where as he carried cash, like a chump. He’s also telling tales about how there are (rideshare?) bikes in China you lock with your phone, so you don’t need to chain them up to a post anymore, there are just bikes everywhere. I cannot imagine overhearing a conversation about the technological advances in Chinese society at the cafés I go to in California.

I don’t really live here anymore, and at the moment there’s not really a job for me here.  But it’s nice to be from here, and nice to be back.

A post shared by Jp Villanueva (@jpv206) on Jun 11, 2017 at 8:28am PDT

 

Asian Squat Bombs

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A while ago my sister and I decided to start taking #AsianSquatBombs because it cracks us up.  Here are 24 photos, mostly of me. Some are of my sister and parents, and two are with my coworker MY.

Shall we remember this day?

It’s Thursday, June 8th, 2017, a little before 9am.  I’m sitting in my mama’s freshly-watered backyard garden. There is a pair of small birds flirting with each other, carving the desert air as they dash  from plant to plant, winding through the tree blossoms; white, pink, and red.

It’s my first Wednesday of summer break. As soon as I put my grade book to bed the other day I packed up my suitcases and drove across the desert to my folk’s place in the north of Las Vegas. So far, for the last few days, it’s been an alarming routine of eating, napping, and checking my phone. Occasionally I drive my mama to the grocery store or to the veterinarian; practice my asian squat and my standing forward fold.  At one point I created a quest to buy a new aloha shirt.

Former FBI director James Comey is currently testifying before a Senate committee; I watched a little of it until I got bored.  I hope it leads to the early demise of the DJT presidency, and the oligarchy that has taken over the Republic. People have taken off work to watch this testimony, eagerly gotten up early on the West Coast, and made this an event, complete with the hashtag #ComeyDay, like it’s a holiday.  If Comey’s testimony does bring down the president, today will be a day to remember in American history.

This summer break, besides Las Vegas, I’ll spend time in Seattle and Kauai, and probably LA.  I hope I start blogging more.  I’ve been thinking about blogging about Racial Imposter Syndrome, Gringo Pronunciation Enforcement, and weapons-grade ratatouille. My hope is that this summer I’ll blog, stick to my nutrition program, write my book “Memoirs of Becoming Multilingual,” get a book deal, and become the wealthy and culturally influential language teacher I aspire to be.

Or or or, alternatively I could win the Powerball; that would be awesome too.  It would certainly make today a day to remember.

Accent marks in Spanish

Sí lleva tilde.pngI feel like I have some students and friends whose policy is to ignore the accent marks in Spanish.  If I tell them, “copy this word:  más” they will write the letters “m.a.s.” When I ask them why they didn’t copy the á with a tilde over it, they will either burst into tears or immediately attack me with a punch to the neck.

Look, I don’t care about proper Spanish.  It is my job to teach it to students, but in life my friends write me however they want, I don’t go after them, they’re my friends.  I do, however tell my students they should learn how to write them, because a) it’s not hard and b) there are people who will write them off as pochos. I, as their teacher, wish them success and wish that other people didn’t write them off as pochos.

I tried to be gentle about it, but I had to start bringing the hammer down when they were writing like “mi familia es muy orgullosa de ser de Mexico” (sic).  Folks, you’re not really representing pride in Mexico if you’re writing me-HEE-co in Spanish.  In Spanish you have to write “México.”  A huevo.

I know that this is an issue with heritage Spanish speakers, the accent mark looks arbitrary to them, and they go into shame spirals when someone exposes them. I’m not trying to put them there.  So I tried to develop helpful graphics.  Here’s the latest.

OG tildes

Organizador gráfico: tildes

I’m not sure if they’ll find this helpful or if it will stress them out.

The following are two examples of flow charts that I made.  When I showed my latino friends, they told me, no, these two are way too stressful.

Tildes por sílaba

Tildes por tipo de sílaba

Tildes por tipo

Tildes por tipo de palabra

This final one is organized by final letter, and my latino friends were less stressed out by this one.  So I added sight gags to it and passed it out to my students. I also passed out little game chips to them, and forced them physically move the chippy along the arrows, and when they did, they got to the right answer. However they hated it (and me) with a passion and as soon as I wasn’t looking went right back to brute force guessing.  Baby steps I guess.

Tildes por asesino jaja.png

Tildes por letra final

If anybody wants these on PDF please email me and I’ll be happy to share; or find the links on my Spanish resources page.  If you’re using my material, I’d love to hear how it went over with your students.

By the way, when I learned these, it was three rules organized as bullet points in a paragraph. At this point in my career, I don’t have rules memorized, and I don’t need graphics; I just hear where accent marks are supposed to be written, even if it’s a word I never heard before.  I’m still trying to figure out how to teach my students to hear where an accent mark goes. I suspect the answer will have something to do with them listening.

My Dim Sum Spots in Seattle

IMG_0471.png

Happy Mothers’ Day from Las Vegas.  I used a personal day so I can be with my mama today.  I popped popcorn last night and my parents and I watched SNL together.  This morning I made strawberry/blueberry buckwheat pancakes for breakfast.  Mama used to tell stories of her father Tatang Maël making popcorn, making pancakes in the afternoon for snack, picking pineapple out of the yard for breakfast, and stealing chunks of Cougar Gold cheese that Tatang bought at the Commissary.

I’m grading papers and planning classes all this weekend, but I’m taking a little break to blog.  My boy BM texted me this morning for dim sum recommendations in Seattle, which… I haven’t lived in Seattle for two years! But of course I have a list.  I don’t know if these places are still there, but they are still fresh in my mind.

Dim sum for one/I’m in a hurry

  • Dim Sum King Order at the counter.  Get it to go if you want.
  • Dim Sum House Up on Beacon Ave. This is the greasy spoon for dim sum.
  • Duk Li Dim Sum Probably the best variety of the Dim Sum For One category.

Old School Dim Sum

  • Harbor City This has been the it-place for a while now; a shoebox shaped, mildly noisy, wait-for-30-min during Sunday Brunch kind of place. This is where I would take Chinese people.
  • Jade Garden This was once the it-place, maybe ten years ago. Still good, but not the same spectacular food it once was back in the day. There is often still a wait, and it’s got a lot of non-Chinese buzz.
  • Joyale Seafood This place has had two other names, but they were all good. There has been ownership drama, I think; an ugly divorce, etc. The food is good, service is good; free parking is nice, usually no wait time. This is a wedding banquet hall.  The only thing I don’t like so much about it is the lack of natural light; otherwise it’s good.
  • Honeycourt Maybe twenty years ago, this was the it-place.  Still popular among old people and Filipinos of all ages. A student messaged me recently to tell me they had renovated. When I still lived in Seattle, the buzz was that Honeycourt was a place for old people, which means absolutely nothing to me.
  • Ocean Star This is the old Sun Ya, which was a way old school place that I didn’t like. A friend of mine, the Transit Tzar, asked me to meet him there a couple years ago, and I was blown away by how good it was. Also, free parking (tight, limited) and natural light. This place is the new hotness to me.
  • New Hong Kong Way down in Rainier Beach.  Nothing to sneeze at; jammed with Chinese Americans. Parking is a piece of cake.
  • Regent Bakery and Café This place has high quality food and is on the fancy end of the dim sum spectrum. Service was a little weird the times I went there, in that the servers were not Asian and were not really acquainted with the way that Asian people eat. For example, they weren’t very quick on the draw when it came to a big pot of rice and a whole bunch of rice bowls for everybody at the table. But my complaints about this place are cultural, not food-based.
  • House of Hong Ok, look; I don’t go here anymore. It’s not that it’s bad; in fact, it’s nice inside, and it’s the place where a lot of us non-Chinese people first learned about dim sum. You will see the whole ethnic spectrum of Seattle in the dining room, and it feels good. This used to be my go-to place, until I started realizing I was seeing the same shrimp ball cooked 15 different ways, and I kept falling for it. I didn’t mind, until I started going to other places and seeing other things; then I never wanted to go back to HOH. Still, I’m thankful for all the meals there.

If I wanted to impress my Chinese friends, I’d go to Harbor City.  Left to my own devices, I’d be at Ocean Star. My sister and I often end up at Joyale because of parking.  慢吃吧。

 

 

Spring Break 2017

I’m in LA today; just got my haircut in Koreatown and now I’m at Vita.  I bought my coffee beans and am cooling out now. Writing. Will meet Dr. J for dinner later, and then pick up H from BUR, who is in town for a wedding. Disneylandia tomorrow.

I had planned a post about the way protests are going these days, about how the organized public demonstrations seem to be ineffectual. How people don’t seem have thought out the consequences; not ready to fill the jails, not really thinking about changing people’s minds, really with fear in their hearts. The best protests nowadays are the town halls, where people are yelling at their representatives to their faces.

Anyway, that post was going nowhere, I got bored of it.

I visited my folks in Las Vegas over the weekend. My mama scolded me for making the four hour drive in four hours, for driving too fast. I didn’t drive that fast, actually, I just didn’t stop for a tburrito in Thousand Palms.

I got to Vegas on Holy Thursday night. On Good Friday I treated my parents to Joe’s Crab Shack, which we had been wondering about for years. We finally went, and declared it to be bullshit. Bland.  We wondered if they had washed the flavor out before serving it. At one point the manager came to scold my mama and I for not wearing our seafood bibs. Mama zoned out and I told the dude that it wasn’t our first rodeo. Dad told the manager to take a hike; it was hilarious. We spent the rest of the night analyzing what was wrong with that place, and the following day we went to the Canto place we always go to and ordered a salt and pepper crab, to erase the memory of Joe’s.

I got back to the Coachella Valley on Easter Monday, and met up with Don D, who is in town for some sunshine. Apparently winter was bad back in Seattle, and everybody is starved for sunshine… these widespread stories of misery make me more homesick. Here I am, surrounded by sunshine, and I have stacks of papers to grade. All this wasted sunshine seems vulgar to me.  Give me some gray skies, and I’ll finish my grading, maybe plan my classes, maybe stick to my nutrition program, get up in time for crossfit.

I have big plans for the summer. More on that later.

 

My Spots in LA

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged; I’ve been trying to keep my head above water teaching. I’ll blog more when my time is my own.

I’ve done a My Spots in Manhattan and a My Spots in Shanghai. For some reason I didn’t get around to a My Spots in Seattle, or Taipei, or Manila.  Maybe someday. Maybe I’ll even do one for the Coachella Valley. Who knows. Here goes:

NELA Athletics. My friend E told me once, with a far-away, misty look in his eye, “You never forget your first box….” I wrote about Crossfit once here, and again here. The day after elections I dropped by the old Merge (they re-branded as Northeast Los Angeles Athletics; NELA) to buy a T-shirt, for old times’s sake. People were doing squat snatches, and Coach MJ was there, and I thought, aw, I miss this place. Coach MJ is the one who used to give me extra reps, so I would cuss him out. They didn’t have a T-shirt in my size, so Coach Paul sent me one in the mail for free!  I was a paying member there for two and a half months, and they’re still being nice to me. I loved that there was Sunday morning yoga, that I could catch a class on the hour AND on the half hour. I loved that they were effortless at being a diverse community; diverse in terms of culture and ethnicity, age, fitness level. I’m not sure I ever told them how comforting it was to work out with some brown people; it is Totally. Comforting. to not have to feel like a pioneer; blazing a trail for Filipino Americans every waking second.

India Sweets and Spices. All vegetarian Indian cafeteria. On a day when I was hungry, I’d get Combo #7: two curries, a scoop of rice, salad, yogurt, a pickle and a soda and it would set me back $7.00. On a regular day I’d get a Combo #3: two curries and a scoop of rice (I had to specify one scoop, because they default give you two), and they would charge me less than $5.o0. I would eat there every day, and I lost a lot of weight. They were super nice to me, too; they got to know my tastes… except the weekday afternoon lady, the daughter of the owners, never guessed correctly what I wanted. The curries were different every day. Usually there were homeless people eating there, or hanging out; they are welcome there and I think the family offers meals to hungry people. They are Hindus, there’s an altar in the dining room and they celebrate Hindu festivals. When some Indian Muslim customers came in for the first time, EVERYONE WAS SO HAPPY; the Hindus, the Muslims, the homeless lady, the chubby Filipino.  It’s not the most elegant place to see in LA but when my sister came to visit, she understood quickly why I ate there every day; the food was good and it felt good to be there.

Little Tokyo Marketplace.  They have free parking, and it’s easy. The banchan deli is good, the fruits and veggies are good, the fish is good. I get to drive through Chinatown and past Homeboy Industries to get there. There’s a Daiso next door.  I stop here on my monthly supply pilgrimages nowadays; I miss going here every week.

Jason Meyers Music. Jason gives private guitar lessons and runs the Atwater Village Ukulele Club. He’s an honest-to-God musician, so it’s one ukulele club that’s a lot of playing instead of a lot of yapping and mediocre singing.

Pescadores de Ensenada. These guys are the first fish tacos I discovered in LA, and also the best; I’m saying this after exhaustive research.  They only appear at the Sunday morning Atwater Village Farmer’s Market. They are just the best, a delicious light tempura fry. They also make grilled fish, which is rather fish-forward; also a tempura fried shrimp. They’ll also give you a tostada and spread frijolito on it if you ask. Yes, I ate my share of Ricky’s and Best Fish Taco; Pescadores is better.

Coni’Seafood. This is a Jonathan Gold spot down in Inglewood. Spectacular. Maybe I’ve had better mariscos at Playas de Tijuana.  Maybe.

Mariscos Mi Lindo Sinaloa. This place wasn’t spectacular but it was across the street from my apartment, and I keep going back, even though I don’t live there anymore.

Itocco Hair Salon. Kelly makes me look like a movie star, best haircuts I’ve ever had. I found the place just by driving into Koreatown on Western, finding a place with free parking, and then wandering inside to ask for a haircut.  Every time Kelly cuts my hair, I look into the mirror astonished by what she has accomplished, and then think it was all because of parking; a true Los Ángeles miracle.  I drive to LA every month now to get my hair cut from her, still. Some people ask me why I don’t get my hair cut in the Coachella Valley, and the answer is a definitive NO.  There is a reason Asian Americans all had the same bad haircut in the 80s, and it’s because we hadn’t found Asian people who could cut our black Asian hair to suit our fat American faces.

Mediterranean Delight. This might have been the one the few lunch spots near the office that I actually liked (besides Lola’s and El Morfi Grill). Good hummus, good falafel, good mahi mahi, salad without a sugary dressing.

El Ruby Café. This spot is a hole in the wall but the chile rojo is dark and smokey, slowly burning a hole in the back of your throat the way chile rojo should. I’ve tasted nothing like that in Seattle.

Pacific Fish Center. I go here to eat a crab with my friends. Tell the ajuma, “Large crab” and she calls back to the kitchen “¡Una jaiba, grande!” and the dude calls back with the price of the crab. Then you go sit, and when the hot crab comes to your table, you can tie on a bib and go at it with both hands. Koreans like that place because it was featured on a TV show in South Korea. Filipinos like that place because you can bring your own suka and make your own sawsawan. By the way, the steamed crab comes to you in sections, and they hand you a mallet if you’re one of those people that doesn’t know how to crack a crab with your teeth. Last time I was there, someone sitting behind me was hammering at the crab way too hard, I flinched at the sound because I could hear that juicy crab meat getting crushed and ruined. I asked my friends, “Is it… some white people behind me?”  That’s probably unfair of me but that crab will crack open with a tap-tap-tap; the lady behind me was doing Hulk smash!  Maybe she was working through some issues.

Quality Seafood. My sister and I are some oyster snobs so we only look at the oyster counter to sneer and make up condescending hashtags. Go to Seattle for oysters. In LA, get a medium sized sea urchin and split it between the two of you. They’ll steam you some clams, they’ll fry things in butter, it’s all there. But the story of LA seafood is the sea urchin.

La Tostadería. This counter in Grand Central Market is really a cevichería. There were a few places at the GCM that I wanted to try, even after I stopped eating land animals, but if there was an open stool, this is the only place I’d go.

There were other places I discovered, fancy bars that positive K took me too before ukulele club; fun dim sum places, and Taiwanese pubs in the San Gabriel Valley. There was a bowl of chili at that place in Burbank, the izakaya way way out in Little Osaka. Pupusas at the Watt’s farmer’s market. Boulevard Music where I bought my ukulele.

LA has good food, but the places are secret, and I left before I could develop a really precise food radar, like I had in Seattle. One thing I can tell you: burritos are good here, and I don’t even like burritos, and you can get a good one almost anywhere in LA. When in doubt, the King Taco carnitas burrito, ask for the chile rojo.