Former fellow kitchen slave, Pablo said he could score free food here, so what the hell?! By dinner time, I was too hungry to care where I ate. Japanese food was what I had been craving all day. After walking around on a hot afternoon, I was kind of craving cold soba noodles. And as good as that sounded, free food sounded a little better. I had been in Little Tokyo for a couple of hours just browsing around and texted Pablo when I was ready to eat.It was so nice outside, so of course, I had to get a table outside. There was an Anime Convention that day, so it was fun to people watch and see them in cute costumes (others, just bizarre). After the fascination of people watching wore out, I was starting to enter the behgo-rage mode. Freaking Pablo was still stuck in traffic. I waited and waited. After waiting for about an hour or so, I said, “screw this. I can’t wait anymore!” And I just had to eat with or without Pablo.
I started with the Molasses Pork Belly, which is served with charred savoy cabbage and Kabocha puree. I heart pork belly, but refrain from eating it too often or else my cholesterol level would be off the charts.
I dug into my plate like a woman that hasn’t eaten in years. The pork had plenty fat on it. I think that is what made my stomach a bit upset later that night….eating all that fat! I was so hungry I finished the whole thing way before Pablo even arrived. Screw Pablo for making me wait for so long! I had every intention of leaving after I ate. But wait…he had the connections for the free meal lol. I couldn’t leave just yet.I think I sat at that table outside for two hours when Pablo finally came strolling in. Freaking Pablo! “Sorry. There were all these accidents on the freeway,” and blah blah he started to say. Freaking LA traffic! Just the previous week, I had been stuck on the 5N for freaking THREE hours. The cars had not been moving at all and snails were passing us. I hate traffic!
By this point, my butt was starting to really hurt from sitting for so long. But I had to sit even longer now that Pablo had arrived. He ordered a plate of oysters and a bacon wrapped quail.
Dinner was alright, but left me feeling nauseous from the heaviness of the dishes, mostly mine. If I had opted for Japanese, I would have ended the evening feeling lighter.
Browsing through Little Tokyo and Hello Kitty Memories
When I was a little girl, my mom used to bring me Little Tokyo every September, right before the week school started. It’s where I got all my back-to-school items. We came here specifically for the San Rio store. I don’t remember nor have any idea why she chose to bring me all the way to little Tokyo (a good 20 minutes away) rather than opting for the San Rio stores nearby our house. Maybe they had more items, or maybe it was cheaper? I don’t know. But that doesn’t mean that I never went to the San Rio stores near my house too. I went almost every week. But specifically for back-to-school items, it was always off to Little Tokyo we go.
I have been in love with Hello Kitty items since I was two. If it was Hello Kitty, I had to have it. Although I may not have an impressive Hello Kitty stash anymore, I will admit that I still do carry a handful of items.
Should I be ashamed to admit that? Maybe. But Hello Kitty is a bit hard to grow out of completely.
On a Saturday morning, I’d wake up early to go with my parents to their work (which was located in Downtown LA) so that I could drop by Little Tokyo later during the day. I’d always be super excited the night before just thinking about all the Hello Kitty items I’d be stocking up on. My mom usually had her employee, Jose, drive us there. I remember how fast and crazy Jose would drive sometimes, cursing in ways I have never heard before. He was who I learned the word “mother fucker” from when I heard him say that to a car that cut in front of him. But over the years, I’d eventually get used to all of his cursing and crazy driving.I remember passing by all these little shops to reach San Rio, but we never stopped by any of them. We were there to go on a Hello Kitty shopping spree and nothing else. When a something shiny or a something yummy intrigued my fancy and I wanted to stop and look, mom would be like, “NO. We don’t have time for that. Let’s go!” So for all those years I’ve been visiting Little Tokyo, the San Rio store was the only place embedded in my childhood memories of Little Tokyo.
We’d park the car, rush through the crowds, and as soon as we reached San Rio, I was in my happy place. The pencils, the pens, the erasers…oh my! I had to get a little of everything that tickled my fancy. Remember those old school pencil boxes? It would have compartments for your writing things, an eraser compartment, a built in pencil sharpener, and a bunch of buttons on the side to make all those things pop open. I had a freaking collection of those! I also had almost every pen, pencil, and eraser imaginable. I freaking LOVED lead pencils. And I usually got a new backpack every year. Mom and I would have disagreements about backpacks. I’d want the cuter one. She’d want me to get a more functional one.I’d always want to spend the entire day browsing through the Hello Kitty stuff, but mom always rushed me out after picking out all of the essential back-to-school items I needed. It was always heartbreaking to leave when there was so much more I wanted to see and buy.
I couldn’t help reminiscing about those Hello Kitty visits. Now I am a grown up and have the freedom to browse and linger as much as I wanted at the San Rio store. I don’t know if this is the same location, but it sure does seem smaller in here than how I remember it.
Things appear to be much bigger when you are little. I went inside, for old memories sake. I browsed around, but there really wasn’t anything that I needed at the time. After a quick browse around the store, I left. Oh yeah, and there is a Hello Kitty convention coming up in October. Would it be totally weird if I went? I'd imagine it'd be mostly little girls running around. But then again, grown women like myself seem to make up a huge demographic of Hello Kitty lovers. I see so many cute Hello Kitty household items....and I even saw Hello Kitty vibrators...WTF, right?! So maybe Hello Kitty really is not just for little girls like I thought.There are many things to explore at Little Tokyo. It was the first time coming here in a couple of years. I always hate paying for parking, period. I usually park in the structure when I come here. I paid $5 for parking there for a few hours.
It was pretty packed that beautiful sunny day. It is summertime and everywhere I go seems to be freaking overly packed. I hate it.
Maybe it’s the old lady in me kicking in, but I seem to enjoy quiet and peaceful places more these days, -like I’d rather be at a quiet bookstore where I am the only person there than to go to a bar or whatever crowded and noisy place with a bunch of noise and drunks.OMG I even saw this one creepy (looking in his 40’s) guy gawking at the young teenaged looking Asian girls that were walking by. And he was being so obvious about it too. I think guys like him come to these places just to do that lol.
The one thing I really don’t like about this plaza is that there are no public restrooms around unless you go into a store. Everyone goes to the grocery store to wait in a long line just to use the restroom. I was in line for about 25 minutes. And I spent the time in line staring at the instant ramen section. All that staring got me tempted to buy a couple as soon as I was done. But when I saw the line for check out, I just ran out. No of couple packs of ramen is worth going through all that waiting time again.The grocery store closes earlier than other places, so that means you’d probably need to go into one of the restaurants and buy something to use the restroom. Or go across the street and you may find something available, like a tea shop.
I wanted some ice cream or frozen yogurt. There are quite a few options available. But coffee sounded better. I went into one of the little bakery places and paid close to $5 for a Vietnamese Iced Coffee in a small paper cup mostly filled with ice. I thought it was a joke. It was overly sweet too. I felt like I was drinking Diabetes in a cup. It was Diabetes in a cup filled with ice. I hate it when places cheap out by filling cups with mostly ice and a tiny squirt of the liquid.I enjoyed browsing through the stores and finding cute little Japanese items. I did buy some things. But for me, there weren’t really too many things that were tempting to buy. It’s more fun just browsing there.