LA in photos

1. My grandmother (Popo)’s name plaque.

2. & 3. The prayer table with gold and silver for her afterlife.

4. My little cousin Sam.

5. Cousins.

6. Big Aunt and her blonde grandson.

7. Mommy and Second Aunt.

8. Cousin and his family.

9. Life is good when you wake up to a box full of pho being put together for your breakfast.

10. More cousin hang outs.

11. The best boba milk tea I have ever had.

12. & 13.  Uncle’s corgi.  He’s a special little piggy.

I’m heading back to NYC tonight on the red eye.  My family is growing — 3 of my 7 cousins have 2 kids each now, all within the past 3 years.  It was great seeing everybody in one place, but sad considering the reason why.

In memory

My maternal grandmother…my popo, passed away a few days ago.  She was 93 years young and she was a fighter up until the end.  Born in Shantou, Guangdong China, she fled to Vietnam during the Japanese invasion of China during WWII.  She married my GongGong in an arranged marriage sometime in 1939 or 1940 (my mom doesn’t know) and over the years raised 7 children.  My mom was the fifth child and the third girl.  A few days before the fall of Saigon, she and my grandfather left Vietnam, money sewed into their clothes, leaving everything they had to join most of the family already in California.  By then my own parents had married and were living in Rhode Island.

My Popo was resilient, full of grit and gusto.  She was the matriarch of the family and there was no questioning it.  She passed a lot of that strength down to my mom…they shared the same stubborn streak, which in chinese we describe as being hard necked.

My best memory of Popo was when she “fattened me up”.  When I was 9, I spent the summer in Los Angeles with Popo (GongGong had passed by then).  She lived on the hill above Chinatown, so everyday I would walk down to the markets with Popo, buy the day’s groceries and walk back up the hill. I would always be carrying the lightest of the bags but without fail, I would complain the whole way up about how the plastic was cutting into my hands.  I also remember being embarrassed by the umbrella she carried around to shield us from the sun.  She worried for my skin even before I knew to worry.  Anyways, when I was young, I had a thing for this preserved shredded pork stuff (still do actually) that was sold in plastic tubs which we called yok si.  So, like the typical chinese grandmother, she would poke my bones, comment on my chicken legs and visible ribs, and feed me heaping bowls of rice with yok si in between meals.  I loved it and gobbled it all up, playing the good little grand daughter by bringing her and her friends water and tea while they played mahjong.  I gained about 10 pounds that summer and went back to San Francisco a bit rounder than before.  I remember my mom and aunt greeting me with, “Wah!  You’re so fat now!”

 

nem nuong love

Yesterday we ate three noodle meals.  Pho in the morning, ramen for lunch and banh canh gio (other type Viet noodle soup) for dinner.  Today, it’s a wrap day.  My uncle Richard took us out for nem nuong wraps. second to pho, these wraps are my favorite Viet dish.  plus, you end up smelling fish sauce in your hands for the rest of the day.  good thing or bad thing?

No joke, LA has the BEST Asian food ever.

Nem noung is garlic and sugar marinated barbecued pork patties.  At the table, you wrap the pork up with lettuce, rice noodles and mint.  A quick dunk in nouc nam and its ready to be devoured.  Seriously delish.

uncle richard, aka richard-fufu. 

cousin eddie, aka shortie.  😉

glasses: bonlook – scarf: nordies rack – necklace: hand me down from my mom -top and tank: madewell – jeans: f21 – flats: frye – bag: pour la victoire

ramen love

Coming to Los Angeles means two things: hanging out with family and eating noodles.

LA to me = San Gabriel, Alhambra, Rosemead, Monterey Park.  LA, the asian part.  I’m ok with that though because this part of LA has the best noodles ever, all kinds.  The best Pho, the best fun and mein ever, the best ramen ever.  I would happily eat only noodles while I’m here in asian LA.

For lunch today we went to a ramen place in Rosemead called Shin Sen Gumi.  So yummy, even yummier than Katana-ya in SF which is my favorite in the city.

Gyoza, char siu tacos and spam misubi.  Om nom nom.

our ramen: Kris’s (sister’s) with roe and egg, Eddie’s (my cousin) with extra char siu and mine with extra char siu and spicy miso.  Holy crap it was yum.

I swear this is the first time ever I’ve been able to eat noodles without geting splashes all over my top. Kris and Eddie helped me snap photos.  Kris was sure to remind me to give her photo credit, so here it is.  Photo credit to my sister, Kris.  and Eddie.

The ultimate LA background…the parking lot of a strip mall.  

There’s my new bag!!!  I was super excited to find this at Nordie’s Rack last week.  It’s the perfect size, color and it has a cross-body strap.  Not to mention it was a steal.

sunglasses and glasses: bonlook – coat: gap (hella old) – top and jeans: f21 – belt: gap (hella old) – flats: frye – bag: pour la victoire

Family photo time.  My mom, sister, Popo and me.  Popo doesn’t remember who I am anymore. Popo needs round the clock care now and she talks to herself a lot.  But she still mentions how tall I am every time she sees me.  “Wah.  hou gouw ahhh.”  some things never change.