The gastronomical adventures of Los Angeles. More accurately, K-Town, as I cannot seem to venture beyond Wilshire and Olympic every time I’m in the area. Early morning soft tofu stew (“soonduboo”), In-N-Out for brunch, my go-to Korean grill joint for lunch (Corner Place restaurant) for beef ribs and brisket, then late night soonduboo once more.
All that in less than twenty hours, and the next morning, I wake up craving a hot, American breakfast – eggs, bacon, French toast. And most of all, hot coffee to jolt my MSG-soaked brain.
Wilshire Blvd at 8 am on a Sunday is calm, serene. The unusually scorching heat has not yet bloomed to its full fury, and the short walk to the old Wiltern Theater building is, well, surprisingly pleasant. They say Wilshire was first made when Henry Gaylord Wilshire first cleared out a path in his barley field. No sights of barley now, just cement and concrete through a maze of upright structures.
Even at that hour, the drug addicts, the alcoholics, and the homeless roam about, occasionally stopping to stare, to converse, or attempt to converse, as locals and tourists alike pass by nonchalantly, seemingly uninterested.
The sidewalk is littered with the remnants of the past night, cans and bottles, decorating the streets, glistening as the morning sun rays bounce off and scatter about in unpredictable directions.
Walking through the streets and through the crisp air is the most genuine way to experience a city – out of the car, from beyond the glass windows. K-Town to me was always distant, far and near simultaneously, as I was always being carted through its streets in a vehicle of one form or another. K-Town on foot was like another country, another culture. The people and the buildings seemed different, more personal, more approachable, more natural and fitting.
Novel Cafe at Wiltern was a refreshing mental (and intestinal) break. Hardly realized this before, but my sun-dried tomato omelet, syrup-soaked French toast, and side of bacon brought order to my organs. And that first sip of hot coffee – Wilshire was no less glamorous or peaceful than any cafe on the banks of the Senne River.
Breakfast of champions. In the heart of K-Town. On Wilshire.