On one recent visit, my family decided to do something different and travel by using the Metrolink train from Sylmar to Downtown Los Angeles. It was a smooth, easy and quick ride through the San Fernando Valley, taking us past the beautiful hills of Griffith Park right in to the most historical and oldest parts of Los Angeles located near Union Station. From the station, we took the short trip on the Gold Line to Little Tokyo and my little brother had a blast as it was his first train ride and he said it was like a ride at Disneyland.
Once we arrived, we immediately headed to the Japanese Village Plaza where there’s lot’s of cool shops and restaurants. In the central courtyard of the plaza they had a karaoke stage set up where visitors can belt out their favorite tunes. And my younger sister who sings in school choir, starred in their high schools musical, and has a very beautiful voice sang “I Dream A Dream” from the musical Les Miserables. The crowd loved her!
The plaza also has a shop that I absolutely love called the Anime Jungle where they have a wide selection of anime books, comics, videos, toys and accessories. I bought a cute (or as the Japanese say “kawaii”) Domo backpack that day to go along with my anime collectables at home. My family had to drag me away from the store because I could have spent my entire day there.
The smell of pastries filled the air as we approached Cafe Dulce, where they also serve delicious bread pudding and believe it or not, BACON DONUTS!!! Yes, I said BACON! The cafe also has a fine collection of coffee flavors and is considered one of the best places to get Hong Kong Tea. The Yamazaki Bakery nearby serves up a more Japanese styled delicacy with an assortment of fruit tarts, raisin breads and chocolate croissants.
But before we could spoil our appetites with desserts, we had to stop by the famous Shabu-Shabu House for a delicious meal. I love this spot because you can cook your meat and vegetables right at your table while adding in a mix of spices and ponzu sauces. What makes the place even more special to me is that my dad put up all of the custom roller shades in the restaurant through his company, JT Blinds. The shades look so much better than the old and worn down mini blinds that were there before.
After eating, we decided to walk off our dinner and visit some more shops and we came across a small video shoot! A young pop star by the name of Jasmine Villegas was at the plaza shooting a scene for one of her new songs and was surrounded by a nice crowd taking pictures of her and a group of dancers. Jasmine once starred in a video with Justin Bieber so she has a pretty big teenage following. I don’t listen to her music but I thought it was cool seeing a celebrity out in public, especially since I was just out hanging around with family.
The scenery at night was so beautiful as all of the little shops had their own lights set up. There were also Tanabata Trees of beautiful design where people can write their wishes down on a piece of paper and attach them to bamboo branches. Little Tokyo hosts an annual Tanabata Tree Festival where thousands come to celebrate and write their wishes. I hope that we can make it out there this year.
There was a real warmth about the area as everybody around gave off positive and happy vibes. Of course before we left, we had to look at a few more stores. It’s amazing how you can find everything there from clothes to antiques to novelty items. But I always look forward to our trips to Little Tokyo because it’s a place that our family can enjoy together, eat lots of great food, and buy cool things (and add to my anime collection). Dad, can we go again soon please?