As most USC students know, there are plenty of places to eat around the school area. Ethnic cuisine, fast food, and even some awesome dessert places are all located within a mile of our beautiful campus. However, USC students also have another great asset on hand – Downtown LA, where several fun restaurant atmospheres exist and are perfect for when you want to try something new. I spent last summer trying to discover new eateries in downtown so that I’d have new food choices during the school year. I found out that downtown has a multitude of cuisines for all different people, whether they are looking for something fast, formal, or even unique!
Wokcano (800 W. 7th Street) is a Japanese sushi and noodle restaurant located about 7-minutes away from the USC Campus (when driving). They provide premium sushi for a low cost, as well as an affordable happy hour. I would describe the environment as casual and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for small portions of Asian cuisine on any given night. I tried the Pad Thai and it was one of the best noodle dishes I’ve had since coming to USC.
Another excellent choice, for those of you looking for a quick meal or drink, is Sixth Street Tavern (630 W. 6th Street). It is a small bar with excellent appetizers and a relatively affordable happy hour menu. This restaurant caters primarily American dishes, with a few ethnic options mixed in as well. I have tried the Grilled Cheese at Sixth Street and I will definitely be going back for more!
Last spring, towards the end of April, I boarded an overnight bus at 11pm — just me and the backpack my mom had loaned me for the semester. One uncomfortably upright night of sleep later, I found myself in a country where nobody knew me, and I didn’t know their language.
And I spent one week there.
This is how that went.
The country in question was The Netherlands, and, although I arrived at Amsterdam Sloterdijk Station, just outside the capital itself, I stayed with a family in Heemstede, south of the markedly smaller city of Haarlem.
Getting from Amsterdam to Heemstede on my own, at dawn, turned out to be a bit trickier than expected. Even in English, the ticketing machine was exceptionally confusing, and the validation system was something my Morning Brain was not ready to absorb. Once I boarded the train, anxiety hummed within me as the Fare Enforcement Officer made his way up the aisle, for fear of not having done it correctly. Thankfully, the officer didn’t bat an eye, nor did I have to open my mouth and make Dutch come out.
I wasn’t in the clear, though. There was still the matter of getting off the train.
With Christmas being only a few short days away, I know I have a treat in store – visiting the in-laws! One of the things I love most about visiting my fiancée’s American family is knowing that they will, without fail, introduce me to a new and interesting dish. As a seasoned foodie, I never consider my stay in any country to be complete until I have tasted as many of its national dishes as possible. My motto in life, especially when it comes to food, is to be open to trying anything once. My future mother-in-law, an excellent chef who loves feeding people, is always more than happy to indulge my passion for unfamiliar cuisine. It was thanks to her efforts that I had the pleasure of trying a dish known as the Tater Tot Casserole.
As you have probably gathered by now, I am not an American. I hail from England, where casseroles exist, but not of the tater tot variety. Actually, I had never even heard of tater tots until joining the in-laws at their Huntington Beach home earlier this semester. Fortunately, my fiancée was more than happy to share her knowledge of this American tradition. Tater tots, she explained, are a sort of miniature hash brown, a fare that is typically produced from the leftover potato shavings of manufactured French fries. Once balled together, these potato lumps are frozen, bagged, and sold to be microwaved at home. Though not a particularly appetizing image, tater tots are a staple amongst Americans and a special favorite for children of all backgrounds.