Some of my Favorite Los Angeles AAPI-Owned Businesses

About a month ago I stared working on a blog post called “A Perfect Day in Chinatown,” filled with recommendations of things to do, eat, drink and buy in one of my favorite neighborhoods in Los Angeles. This post was in reaction to the way the pandemic had affected this vibrant community, but in light of the larger conversation about AAPI racism in our country, I’m expanding this beyond just Chinatown. I’ve been reading more about what we can do as AAPI allies, and something that keeps coming up is support small businesses, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites.

I grew up in a city extremely lacking in diversity (other than the wonderful Mexican community I had the privilege to grow up around,) and when I moved to Los Angeles my mind was blown by the extreme and wonderful melting pot that it is. There is SO much culture here – and when I say culture I don’t mean museums and fancy restaurants, I mean the manifestation of so many communities from so many different places. I don’t have enough words today to express how much my lens of the world has expanded just from being in my own city, but for today I would like to share some of my favorite Asian-Owned businesses, Chinatown and beyond.

I’d also like to note that my original post featured businesses in Chinatown that were not Chinese owned, and while I love Wax Paper and Howlin’ Rays, it is not lost on me that supporting these white-owned businesses in an Asian neighborhood is it’s own form of subconscious racism and white gentrification that I have contributed to, and something that I am working to be more conscious of. So for my first post of Los Angeles Recommendations, here are some of my favorite AAPI owned businesses in town, and resources to find more.

Chinatown Small Businesses

Before I give you my recommendations, the CCED (Chinatown Community for Equitable Development) has already made some incredible resources of small businesses I’d like to share:

Both of these are incredibly helpful and filled with GEMS.


Some of my favorite Asian-owned Los Angeles Restaurants

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March Heart List

Welcome to the Heart List – where each month I’ll be sharing things I’m ✨ViBiNg✨ with. This will include things to brighten your day, actionable steps for good causes, wine recs, things to do in LA, inspiring accounts to follow, wish list items, and more!

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Small Steps Lead to Big Things

^ That’s it, that’s kind of the whole point. I obviously would like for you to keep reading, but essentially that headline is the TLDR version of the previously titled article “My Mini-Mantra and Goals for the Semi-New Year.”

And while I’m well aware that Valentine’s has already come and gone, and I’m still over here thinking about “New Year” resolutions, I figure that time doesn’t actually exist anymore, we can agree this is fine. Better not best, the journey not the destination, and all that.

For very obvious reasons, 2021 is off to a different start from any other year we’ve experienced. Staring knowingly down the barrel at what could realistically be another six to ten to twelve months of isolating or at the very least distancing, with the activities from our past lives non-existent, we are required to pivot. With my options limited and emotional bandwidth depleted, I’ve decided to do something with my goals that I’ve never done before…. be realistic. No snowballing, no building ambition upon ambition, not letting perfectionism get the best of me. I’ve got no European adventures to plan or TV shows to pitch, and if 2020 taught us anything, I hope the lasting lesson is to be gentle with ourselves. Sometimes surviving is all that needs to happen.

When setting annual intentions the past, I’ve chosen a single word to channel for each year – balance, clarity, drive. This year instead, I chose a mantra: Small Steps Lead to Big Things, which to say is what I am actually focusing on is consistency. Doing at least one thing, no matter how small, each day, to get me to a different personal elevation by this point next year. Within this mantra I set just a couple more tangible goals…

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About 3 months into quarantine, I was in desperate need of a creative outlet. Missing my friends and eager to document this surreal time in our lives, I had the idea to do a socially distanced portrait series. Knowing that there would forever be plenty of photos of ransacked grocery stores and desolate street scenes, I asked my friends to let me photograph them in a more whimsical way. Combining this vision with my need for human contact came the title of the series: Extrovisions.

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31 Before 32

Here I am, having blown out the candles on another new year, sharing another one of my birthday goal lists. I’m feeling guilty that I’ve posted so little to this blog as of late that last year’s list is still on the front page, but I can at least take some comfort looking down the list and noting all the other things that have kept me busy during 31.

If you’re new to my lineup of intentions, when I was 25 I started compiling a numbered list of annual goals in accordance with how old was turning. They range from micro (learn to do a cartwheel) to macro (sell a book), and tangible (renew my passport) to the more expansive (work on being comfortable being alone.)

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Just A Shitty Blog Post

I’m writing something bad to make way for something good. 

This post is here to pop the cork, to detangle my brain. To alleviate both myself and the reader from any pretenses or expectations for what’s going to live here. 

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Feels like Mother’s Day

Well, it’s time for Mother’s Day, and as you might imagine I’m not in the best mood about it. I’ve been depressed for a minute and couldn’t figure out why until my therapist suggested maybe it was the imminent maternal celebration bumming me out. It immediately made all the crying in the shower this week make sense.

This is year two without her and I gotta tell you, it doesn’t really feel any better. The pain has numbed for sure, but there’s not a day of my life I don’t feel the deep, looming sadness. There’s not a week that goes by without crying. Not a beat of my life that doesn’t result in frustration that she’s not here.

Bad days are made worse because I can’t call her. Happy moments are immediately faded because I can’t tell her about them. It’s having a broken light meter on your mental camera and every shot of your life is just a little bit off, no matter how hard you work.

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New Year, New (?) Me


OK, so I’m aware that we’re 3 weeks into 2019 and that’s not standard greeting at this point, but as far as we – you and I, writer and reader, blogger and bloggee? – are concerned, this is our first meeting of the new year – so just roll with it, ok?

I hope this new year finds you well, because, not to blow my own horn, but I’m kind of killing it. In a time where everyone is doing celery juice cleanses and joining gyms and signing contracts in blood to Marie Kondo, I am at the front of the parade. I’m steering the float, conducting the band, and doing other metaphors for leadership that I don’t know because clearly I’ve never captained anything. I should basically just purchase a sandwich board with NEW YEAR NEW ME painted on it in letterpress calligraphy.

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30 Before 31

About five years ago, I started an annual tradition of making a list of goals to accomplish by my next birthday. I prefer this to resolutions (for New Years I pick a word I want the year to embody as opposed to a list of things), because I feel like there’s less universal pressure and I tailor it more to my age than the year itself. 

Each year the number of goals correlates to how old I am – IE: 25 things to do by 26, 26 before 27, and so forth. If you’re interested, you can see 25, 26 & 27 HERE. (I realize I’m going to have to cap the number at some point, because anything more than 30 already seems excessive, so we’ll see…) 

I love checking in throughout the year with a reminder of things I want to accomplish, then being able to look back and see what was important to me and how I’ve grown and changed. In the wake of my recent birthday, Im sharing this year’s list of goals with you, accompanied by how I did in terms of accomplishing them. 

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Birthday Suit

My birthday is in exactly five days and, right on cue, the annual feelings of melancholy, anxiety and introspection are sinking in. I’m not the kind of person who doesn’t like acknowledging my birthday – lets be honest, I’m a glutton for most any kind of attention – but the event always tends to bring out a bit of unease. And nothing brings this existential angst to the forefront more than the act of finding the perfect birthday outfit. 

The outfit that sets the tone for the new year, the one you look back on and immediately remember who you were at that moment in time. 

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