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.
When I entered my first year at high school – already a new and uncertain time – my mother told me and my sister that our family would start hosting international university students. I thought it would be a fun experience and, having grown up with immigrant parents, I was no stranger to the joys of diversity. At the same time, I was a little bit nervous too. Would I be able to create an authentically American experience for these students? Would they enjoy my home and family?
The day Yuki (our first student) arrived, we tried to make sure she would be as comfortable as possible. Thinking it wouldn’t suit her taste, we didn’t eat our usual traditional Persian food for dinner; we ordered pizza instead. During dinner, we learned that Yuki had never been outside of Japan but that she was excited and open to learning about her new surroundings and broadening her horizon. I quickly saw how kind and understanding she was and that I shouldn’t have worried about her not liking our home. In fact, she told us she wanted to try Persian food, which surprised and pleased us at the same time.
In the coming weeks, we showed Yuki our city. I pointed out the best tofu house, my favorite boba shop, and my high school hangout spot. Though Yuki went back to Japan after finishing her semester abroad, we were fortunate enough to receive many more intriguing students. Hitomi, Miyuki, Tomomi, and Mae, among others, became part of our household and constituted an important part of growing up for me. From them, I learned how things I had previously saw as ordinary were actually quite extraordinary – Miyuki, for example, was thrilled that we had a grill in our backyard. She snapped countless pictures of this grill, something I had seen as a standard household item. She explained that where she lived in Japan, houses and backyards were often too small for such features. Likewise, Hitomi introduced me to the Bath and Body Works store. With its varied and delightfully-scented cosmetic items, I am forever thankful.
“Can we help you?” If my roommate Wendy and I had smart phones or even internet access back on January 7th, 1989, we might never have heard those reassuring words spoken by two young, nice-looking Italian guys on that fateful Saturday night. Wendy and I had just arrived in Florence the day before to start a three month overseas studies program. We were placed with a host family, the Miniati’s, in the “suburbs” and we could only get home by bus from the city center. According to my travel journal, we had gotten on bus 23C, realized it was the wrong one, and then got off, completely turned around and lost. We found a payphone, but then realized that we needed a special token called a getone to use it, and we had no idea where to get one. Had we had our handy dandy mobile devices, we could have done a number of things like look up the bus schedules and routes, gotten exact directions to our host family’s house and hailed a taxi, or just have even called our host family to come get us. Instead, we just stood on the street corner not knowing what to do, laughing because it was better than crying.That’s when we heard those magic words first spoken by Leonardo, a tall slim guy with dark hair, deep-set blue eyes and an authentic Italian nose. He was accompanied by his buddy, Filippo, who was more boyish looking. We told them we were lost and needed a getone to make a call and they got us one. They also offered to give us a ride home. Wendy and I looked at one another wondering if we could trust these guys, and then Leonardo offered to show us his ID. That cinched it for me.