One of my favorite ways to explore a new city is by taking a deep dive on Yelp and trying out as many food places as my bank account allows for. From frequenting late-night taco stands to celebrating the end of midterms with Korean BBQ, exploring the LA food scene has been a major highlight of my college experience. Since the start of my time at USC, I’ve been avidly documenting my favorite dining experiences in a list on my phone’s Notes app. I wanted to share a few highlights from this list:
Yeastie Boys Bagels: If you’re like me and you love grabbing a good old fashioned bagel for brunch, this place is for you. The bagel trucks are located on Sunset Blvd, Ventura Pl, and Melrose Pl between the hours of 8 A.M. and 2 P.M. I promise this one’s worth getting out of bed for. From what I’ve seen, the two most popular orders are the “Game Over” (consists of a cheddar bagel with scrambled eggs, bacon, tomato, and jalapeno spread), and my personal favorite, the “Lox Deluxe” (consists of a sesame bagel with smoked salmon, tomato, red onion, capers, and a scallion spread). Be sure to check out their Twitter for updates on hours and location!
Joan’s on Third: Although a bit far from campus, this family-owned space has a short rib sandwich that is to DIE for! I had been hearing about Joan’s for months before I stopped by, and let me just say that it truly lived up to my expectations. During the pandemic, Joan’s had a great to-go order system set up with plenty of outdoor seating as well. Besides the short rib sandwich, other popular items from their menu include the Chinese chicken salad and BLT.
Over the years, cooking has been a form of catharsis for me. Between class and work, cooking is one of the easiest ways for me to take time out of my schedule for myself. Amongst the highs and the lows of everyday life, preparing food allows me to express myself in ways beyond words. It helps me remember who I am and put aside my worries and insecurities if just for a minute. Each food has a signature scent that I often associate with a moment in my life. Filling the room with aromatic smells of crispy, savory, spicy, or citrusy meals, it’s often hard to pick just one dish. In spite of the array of options available, I always seem to cook exactly what I want. These dishes not only smell delicious, but also help me reminisce on my past, think about the present, and look towards the future as well.
Food is like an art form, and as the artist I feel it is up to me to create something beautiful whenever I step into the kitchen. Without a doubt, cooking is an art that requires hours of practice, repetition, discipline, and patience. The intricacies of cooking go far beyond simply combining ingredients together, but knowing what flavors, textures, and aromas go together to form the perfect dish. To be an artist in the kitchen is harder than it looks, and trust me I’ve tried. After watching a few Food Network shows, it might seem easy, but chef’s spend years perfecting their craft. While I cannot say that I am there yet, I hope to be in the near future.
The joy of cooking is such an easy thing to incorporate into your life, but many don’t know what dishes they might like to cook. Here’s a few of my favorite dishes to cook in the kitchen for inspiration:
Jerk chicken, rice and peas, and fried plantains
Growing up in a West Indian household, my mom used to make this quite often for our family. Making it now really reminds me of home, and the comfort I felt at that time.
Chicken or shrimp empanadas and yellow rice
One of my favorite restaurants in New York City is a Cuban restaurant that served this exact dish at their establishment. While simple, this dish is always a staple in my diet, and easy to make from scratch.
Inspired by some of the food I used to get in Little Italy, I like to make this dish once per week. One of my favorite pasta sauce’s to pair it with is Rao’s Marinera Sauce.
Chicken Lo Mein
Whether I use udon noodles or regular spaghetti noodles for this dish, it always tastes good. I prefer to use bok choy, broccoli, carrots, and green onions for my vegetables, but it’s really up to you what you would like to include.
Fried Chicken Wings
After marinating the chicken overnight in a mixture of spices, you can’t go wrong with fried chicken wings. It’s a quick and easy meal that everyone loves to eat.
This dish is one of my favorite things to get when I go back home, and is super easy to make at home!
These French pastries pair really nicely with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee in the morning.
Cupcakes are super easy to make from scratch, and by adding a little bit of vanilla and almond extract they taste even better! The coconut adds a fun new flavor that you don’t often see in cupcakes.
I hope this list gave you some ideas for dishes you would like to cook. If you want to start cooking regularly but are still having trouble planning out your meals, I recommend making a list of dishes you know you like and referencing this before you go to the grocery store so you will know what ingredients you need to get for the week!
Tiffany is a Master’s Student from New York City studying Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. Her Bachelor’s degree is from USC in Human Biology on the Applied Physiology track with a Minor in Health Care Studies. She hopes to pursue a MD-PhD in the near future. She has conducted molecular biology, stem cell biology, and cancer biology research at UPC, HSC, and CHLA. On campus, she participated in many student organizations such as GlobeMed at USC and the Marching Band where she played flute. In her free time, she likes baking, exploring LA, trying new food, and hanging out with friends.
Living with a Chinese American roommate, the foods in our household tend to lean dramatically one way or another (culturally speaking). Xinmin’s dishes tend to have a South-Eastern Chinese taste, while mine tend to utilize American foods that emphasize my Black/African American heritage. However, when we cook together, we always bring something different to the table. I feel so fortunate to have been paired with a roommate that has a culture so different from my own. It’s allowed me to experience an array of amazing foods, some of which I would have never ventured to learn about before.
I tried Cōng Yóu Bǐng, also known as Scallion Pancakes, for the first time when Xinmin decided to make it with the leftover flour and green onions we used to make dumplings. As soon as I tasted the flakiness of the bread, I fell in love. It was unlike anything I had ever tasted before. Even Negiyaki, a green onion Japanese pancake that I have tried and adore, does not have the same taste or textures as my new favorite Chinese treat.
Some time ago I decided to make turkey burgers for our “roomie dinner”, but I couldn’t think of a complimentary dish to go with the burgers. That’s when it clicked. The night before, Xinimn had made Cōng Yóu Bǐng and happened to have some leftovers. Instead of using plain old hamburger buns, we decided to put the turkey burgers on the leftover Cōng Yóu Bǐng; the results were delicious!
If you want to try this combination out for yourself, try out the recipe below!