Sunday, February 15, 2009

Day 11: Imagine

Tenno Sushi is a little Japanese restaurant on South Central Avenue in LA's Little Tokyo that's popular with career people during weekday lunch hour. When I was there, I spotted two female police officers, a Korean couple and middle-aged business men in dark suits. The menu is heavily Korean-influenced. Even the waiters and sushi makers behind the counter were Korean. They all wore traditional Japanese kimonos. No wonder the lunch special dolsot udon ($6.95) was so delicious -- along with the shrimp tempura, the dish included a plentiful array of healthy ingredients, such as oyster, enoki mushrooms, corn, jujube, walnuts, chestnuts, seaweed, seatangle (konbu) and fishcake. Tenno, which means 'Emperor of Japan' in Japanese, certainly made me feel like a queen with all the textures floating around in my mouth.

The Kid ordered teriyaki chicken with furikake on rice, potato salad and orange (not sure what the red thing is -- beets?). While the chicken was only so-so, the ginger salad dressing had a nice tart kick to it.

My aunt is happily slurping down her dolsot udon soup. Tenno also has a full bar and sushi menu. The crab rolls were especially good.

Next to the men's restroom, John Lennon's famous mug adorned the "Employees Only" office. I was reminded of the weight of his lyrics:

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

I hope one day the state of the world will echo Mr. Lennon's words. Dreams are not just dreams, if you are willing to work towards a reality. And I imagine all the people sharing all the good eats, from Persia to the Philippines, India to Ireland. Let's unite!

Day 10: A bit of Pleasantville in Pasadena

Fair Oaks Pharmacy Soda Fountain, which opened in 1915, is a real old-school soda fountain and pharmacy in Old Town Pasadena that also sells gifts, old-fashioned toys and my friend, Curious George. You can order all manner of malts, floats, shakes and sundaes. Since I was banned to a 24-hour liquid diet following my choking episode (see previous entry), I got the Hand-dipped Banana Milkshake ($4.95). Nothing's better than a shake made with REAL fruit (in this case, real bananas). Even Curious George would approve.

Background, from l-r: banana split, seasoned salt fries, hot fudge brownie with vanilla ice cream.

A generous serving of Neopolitan ice cream accompanied the banana split, down to the cherry on top. Six scoops of ice cream is more than enough for pint-sized customers.

Young people enjoying their sundaes. I wish I had a close-up of the fudge -- it oozed down the vintage cups. Next time, I want to try the Lime Rickey or the Root Beer Float.

Strolling down Old Town Pasadena. The Metro bus stops by periodically to drop off and pick up commuters. Notice how the bus matches the LA Weekly newsstand in front of it.

I scream,
You scream,
ALL scream for ice cream!

Day 10: The Art of Choking

There are some things you think will never happen to you. There's skinning your knee, slipping in the bath tub and stapling your finger (all of which, sadly, I have experienced). And then there's choking. Most folks don't think much of it. Maybe you were eating too fast, didn't chew properly and the food got stuck temporarily.

Or it may get trapped in your windpipe. In which case, the Heimlich maneuver comes into play.

But let's backtrack: Sunny day, clear skies, Downtown LA at 10:30 a.m. We roll into Ctown for some Vietnamese sandwiches and freshly-squeezed orange juice, both of which were a mere 2 dollars each. A Latino husband-wife team sold the orange juice in a parking lot. Manning a shaded vending booth, the man squeezed the oranges in the fruit juicer as the woman poured the contents into plastic cups. Behind the booth was their faded blue pickup truck, where hundreds of bright oranges peeked out from barrels. This OJ is the real deal. The flavor of oranges, and oranges alone. Nothing artificial here.

In the car, we munched hungrily on Banh Mi Dat Biet, a hearty Vietnamese sandwich made of assorted sliced meat, daikon, cilantro and carrot on a crusty French loaf. However, when the car lurched forward, so did the carrot, lodging itself in the back of my throat. Alarmed, I grabbed my water bottle and guzzled it like there was no tomorrow. I thought it would go away.

But it didn't. A constricting sensation was cutting off my air supply as I gulped for breath. Oh, to breathe! My uncle, sensing my situation, quickly drove me to the nearest hospital (first picture). Fortunately, Huntington Hospital was nearby. After waiting something like an hour, I finally got checked out. It turns out that the carrot had scratched my esophagus, causing me discomfort even though it had gone down my throat. So, after all, I didn't need the Heimlich, but that was my first visit to the ER. And on vacation. I'm just that lucky.

Back on the road again, my little nephew cautioned me, "Auntie Sarah, don't eat the carrots, okay? O-kayyyy?" Don't worry, kiddo, I'm not going to do anything rash this time around.

Lesson of the day #1: Don't eat while the car is in motion.

Lesson of the day #2: Always bring your up-to-date medical information with you when traveling. You never know what calamity might befall you...erm, yeah.

That sandwich sure was tasty, though.