Tag Archives: food

Restaurants to Try in LA

By Sarah Selke

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[4 minute read]

Los Angeles is home to some of the most diverse cuisines in the world. From Italian to Chinese to Mexican to Thai food, this city offers a wide variety of foods that would be hard to find in such abundance in other American or even international cities. Despite the pandemic’s limitations on indoor and some outdoor dining, many restaurants still offer takeout or delivery services. Not only do these services help keep small businesses afloat, but they can also provide a much-needed alternative to cooking at home all of the time. Here are a few restaurants in the LA area that are beloved by many of the city’s residents.

Ji Rong Peking Duck

Located in Rosemead, Ji Rong Peking Duck is an upscale Chinese restaurant specializing in Peking duck. While it is about a 20 minute drive from USC, it is considered by many customers to have the best Peking duck in LA. This famous dish requires ordering an hour in advance. Some of their other popular items include lamb skewers, crispy walnut shrimp, stewed pork belly, beef rolls, meat pies, and green bean jelly. They are now offering both delivery and takeout.

Photo by Fabien Maurin on Unsplash

Tender Greens

Located in several places in LA County, Tender Greens offers modern American food that is relatively health-conscious. They are known for their hot plates, salads, and sandwiches. The plates are easily customizable, giving you a choice of protein, greens, and a side. Recently, they have also added a brunch and family meals section to their menu. During the pandemic, they have begun to offer outdoor dining and pickup.

Chichen Itza

Close to USC’s campus, Chichen Itza is a family-owned Mexican restaurant specializing in Yucatecan food. They are known for serving many traditional dishes such as Cochinita Pibil, Tamales, and Panuchos. The establishment has frequently made L.A. Weekly’s list of top 99 restaurants in Los Angeles, and customers continue to come back for their delicious dishes. Currently, they offer outdoor dining, delivery, and takeout.

Urth Caffe

Urth Caffe is a popular European-style breakfast/brunch spot with multiple locations in LA County. Focused on sustainability and local ingredients, the establishment roasts its own organic coffee and blends its own teas. They offer a wide variety of menu items, including sandwiches, paninis, pizzas, salads, omelets, and desserts. One of my favorite dishes is their Mediterranean platter, which is a sampler plate of hummus, pearl couscous tabouli, roasted peppers, feta cheese, and dolma. They are currently open for outdoor dining, delivery, and takeout.

Photo by Petr Sevcovic on Unsplash

Zui Xiang Yuan

A small hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Alhambra, Zui Xiang Yuan has a nice variety of relatively simple Chinese dishes. Famous for their dumplings and noodles, the establishment offers beef noodle soup, dan dan noodles, meat pies, pan-fried buns, and steamed buns. Compared to other restaurants with similar menus in the San Gabriel Valley, Zui Xiang Yuan stands out for its delicious and authentic take on southern Chinese food. Currently, they are open for takeout.

Oh My Pan Bakery & Café

Oh My Pan is an Asian-style bakery in San Gabriel that offers a variety of drinks, breads, and cakes. They offer many types of tea, milk tea, slush, and frosted milk with syrups made of fresh fruit. Their breads are made of Japanese flour, resulting in a soft and fluffy texture. Some of my favorite items are the taro with buttercream bun and the matcha mochi with buttercream bun. They are open for pickup.

Hopefully, some of these restaurants sounded appealing to you and you will go and try them for yourself! If you have any other LA restaurant recommendations that you simply can’t stop raving about, consider sending in a blog post submission to the American Language Institute describing your experience. You can submit a blog post or get more information on submitting a post by emailing jungheim@usc.edu.

Featured Image by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash

Sarah is a recent graduate who majored in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She was born in the Los Angeles area and has lived there much of her life. In addition to English, she has some background in Mandarin Chinese, French, and basic German. In her free time, she likes reading, listening to music, photography, and cooking. Sarah went to Beijing last summer and experienced having one-on-one conversations with other local students learning English. She hopes to continue improving her Chinese and French and is interested in teaching English as a foreign language someday.

Memories of Home: Long Island

By Matt Solowan

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Whenever people ask me where I’m from and I say New York, they always reply with something along the lines of “Wow, that’s so cool! You live in New York City!” I then have to remind them (and for some people teach them) that New York is actually a really big state, and New York City (or Manhattan more specifically) is only one part of it.

I grew up on Long Island, about an hour drive from Manhattan. While some people only know us Long Islanders as inhabitants of the setting of The Great Gatsby, we have also made quite a name for ourselves for other reasons. From the beautiful beaches of the Hamptons to our world-famous bagels and pizza, Long Island has come to be known for many things.  When I go home for breaks now, I like to squeeze in as many of my favorite Long Island-themed activities as I can possibly fit in. This got me thinking about what my perfect day on Long Island would be. So without further ado here it is:

I’d wake up early so that I can get to my favorite bagel shop while the bagels are still fresh. I’d order my favorite bacon egg and cheese on an everything flagel (slang for a flat bagel) and an iced coffee. No breakfast food can compare to a Long Island bagel, and in fact, whenever my family or friends come to visit me at school, I always beg them to bring me as many as they can( By the way, if you think you’ve had a bagel, but it wasn’t from Long Island, then you probably were just eating bread).

Photo by Ann on Unsplash

If it were summertime, I would then drive out to the beach with my friends, preferably the Hamptons or nearby Fire Island, but Jones Beach or Oyster Bay are nice hangout spots too. While we may not have the same crystal clear blue water that you find in the Caribbean, to me spending the day at the beach has always been like a mini-vacation (although the seagulls can get pretty annoying).

After that, my friends and I would return home to get ready to go out for the night. One of the best parts about living in the shadow of Manhattan is that at any time you can hop on a train and spend the night in one of the greatest cities on earth. No matter how many times I step out of Penn Station on arrival in Manhattan, I am always in awe at the sights and sounds of the city.

Photo by Alex Simpson on Unsplash
Continue reading Memories of Home: Long Island

A local food review: Chichen Itza Restaurant

By Jonah Vroegop

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

Do you enjoy delicious Mexican food? If your answer is yes, I have a recommendation for you! Due to its location near the USC campus, Chichen Itza is a popular spot for students and community members to pick up a bite to eat. They serve a variety of dishes from tamales, tacos, soups, tortas, appetizers, and more! It is one of my favorite places to eat around USC, and a great spot to go to if you are looking for a new place to eat during quarantine.

First and foremost, the restaurant is located in Mercado La Paloma – a local business hub of the Figueroa corridor that supports business ownership opportunities and living wages for members of our community. There are many restaurants and businesses similar to Chichen Itza, as well as non-profit offices, a health office, and a range of affordable meeting rooms and community spaces. They frequently host art and music-centered events, film showings, and open mic nights as well, giving the community a forum and a place for local interaction. The market takes pride in the quality of their goods and services and are proud to serve the community with the goal of achieving economic and environmental justice while fostering community engagement and exchange of culture. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurants and shops are only open for takeout or delivery. Don’t miss the chance to check out the market! 

The cuisine served at Chichen Itza comes from Yucatan, a region in the south of Mexico known for its fresh chili peppers, cilantro, and oregano as well as achiote. Their menu is expansive and definitely contains something for everyone! They take pride in their ingredients and use house-made meats and handmade corn tortillas. These ingredients are staples of Mexican street cuisine and a vital part of serving a delicious Yucatan dish. Many of the marinades and preparation techniques come from the Yucatan region, providing flavors and ingredients that aren’t commonly seen on restaurant menus. Each dish comes with a few options for fillings, cooking techniques, and salsas. I recommend the cochinita pibil (banana leaf-wrapped slow-roasted pork) and the pollo asado (roasted chicken) on any dish. If you’re struggling to find something to order, you can’t go wrong with tamales – arguably the most famous Mexican street food.

“Taco’s de pollo asada” and a “torta de pollo asada”
Continue reading A local food review: Chichen Itza Restaurant