Los Angeles

How to Support the Asian-American Community in Los Angeles Right Now

Take a stand against AAPI hate in all its shapes and forms.

Little Tokyo Service Center
Little Tokyo Service Center
Little Tokyo Service Center

Anti-Asian hate is nothing new. You’re just hearing about it more-from last week’s racially motivated attack in Atlanta to the alarming uptick in hate crimes across the country. But from everyday microaggressions to violent incidents, the AAPI community has historically experienced discrimination-which has only been fueled by COVID-19 and the harmful rhetoric surrounding it. Approximately 1.5 million AAPI call Los Angeles County home, with some of the largest Asian ethnic enclaves outside of their native countries. These vibrant, diverse communities contribute so much to our city’s rich cultural tapestry-and right now, they need us.

If you’re saddened, disturbed, and outraged by the racism and xenophobia, it’s time to take action. Here are several ways you can show support and allyship to your Asian and Asian-American friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors.

Donate to nonprofits supporting Asian and Asian-American residents

Asian Americans Advancing Justice provides free resources and services-especially for vulnerable, low-income immigrants who aren’t proficient in English-in addition to running an anti-Asian discrimation project you can help fund. If you’re incensed about the increasing occurrences of violence against the elderly, Asian American Senior Citizens Service Center is dedicated to increasing awareness of this community’s needs-now more important than ever. The Center for Asian Americans United for Self-Empowerment (CAUSE) advances political and civic empowerment through nonpartisan voter outreach, training, education, and leadership development.

You can also donate to any of Los Angeles’s many community-oriented organizations, including the Little Tokyo Service Center, Chinatown Service Center, Korean American Family Services, Filipino American National Historical Society, Search to Involve Pilipino Americans, and The Progressive Vietnamese American Organization (PIVOT).

Volunteer to keep elderly members of the AAPI community safe

Inspired by a similar project in Oakland, Compassion in SGV is a new organization that helps keep vulnerable people in the San Gabriel Valley safe. Volunteer chaperones provide a sense of security by accompanying the elderly to their cars, buses, or other destinations. Don’t live in the SGV? Mobilize volunteers to offer assistance to AAPI neighbours in your community.

Little Shop of Mary's Banh Mi
Little Shop of Mary’s Banh Mi
Little Shop of Mary’s Banh Mi

Patronize AAPI-owned restaurants and businesses

The pandemic dealt a huge blow to the restaurant industry, but many Asian eateries endured the added hardship of COVID-19-related stigma. One of the best ways to show your support is by spending your dollars at AAPI-owned places (which, coincidentally, will also make your stomach very happy). While there are far too many to name, some of our favourites include Mei Lin’s newly opened Daybird, cooking up Szechuan hot chicken in Silver Lake, and Ryan Wong’s Needle, serving tasty Hong Kong eats in the same neighbourhood. There’s also Little Shop of Mary‘s mouthwatering banh mis, family-run Woon Kitchen, Lao Tao‘s Taiwanese street food, Yang Chow‘s Chinese classics, Saikai Ramen Bar‘s perfectly executed bowls, Broken Mouth‘s homestyle Hawaiian dishes, Pok√©works‘ famous sushi burritos, Lasita‘s Filipino rotisserie and lechon-inspired menu (a new concept from the guys behind LASA), Simpang Asia‘s crave-worthy Indonesian fare, Pho Hue Oi‘s noodle soups, Mayura Indian Restaurant‘s Kerala-based cuisine, Gamboge‘s Cambodian sandwiches, and any number of restaurants in the SGV (here’s a primer on the area’s best dumplings).

Once your stomach’s satiated, start shopping at Now Serving-which stocks must-have cookbooks, ceramics, and more in Chinatown. Sawtelle mainstay Black Market is a lifestyle boutique with the coolest clothes and trinkets. Over in Eagle Rock, Leanna Lin’s Wonderland curates covetable art, toys, and decor, while Japanese gift shop Bunkado is still going strong at its original downtown location since 1946. Founded in 1888, Pasadena’s family-owned F. Suie One Co. is your go-to for Asian antiques and furniture.

Original wedding plans derailed? Monica Wang‘s The Revery (a gorgeous, natural-light-filled photo studio and event venue) is partnering with Studio Komorebi on all-inclusive micro wedding packages from April to July. Also, look into floral design and event planning company The Loved Co.

Or pay a visit to any one of LA’s ethnic pockets, where you’ll find a plethora of AAPI-owned restaurants, markets, and small businesses that deserve your patronage-like Thai Town, Historic Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Bangladesh, Chinatown, Little India, Little Tokyo, and Sawtelle’s Japantown.

Burmese Please
Burmese Please
Burmese Please

Support local entrepreneurs’ social-media-based pop-ups

Last year’s restaurant lockdown birthed exciting, new culinary ventures on social media (and shined a spotlight on a few existing concepts, too). Chinese-Indonesian-American Brian Moeljadi helped launch Cash Only Productions, a culinary collective that creates food products, apparel, and events. Burmese Please shifted from cooking at Smorgasburg pop-ups to offering takeout from an Arts District kitchen. KinKan and Debi Sushi create artisanal chirashi boxes that are almost too pretty to eat. You’d be remiss not to order one of Ishnoelle Chin’s‘s delectable ube cheese or buko pies. Sandy Ho‘s beautifully dyed dumplings and fortune cookies make the perfect gift (plus, she’s committing 10% of all online sales to a different nonprofit each month). So do Jennifer Ban’s’ stunning Korean rice cakes-which are steamed and piped with intricate white bean paste flowers.

Studio ATAO
Studio ATAO
Studio ATAO

Follow LA-based thought leaders and groups who promote AAPI interests

Chinese-American chef (and Thrillist Local Hero) Jenny Dorsey offers a unique point of view through her work with Studio ATAO, which uses events and exhibitions to explore issues like unconscious bias and immigration. Her commentary on how food can be used as a medium for identity, representation, and social change is enlightening. Entrepreneur Jing Gao is another prominent voice in the community, leveraging her premium Chinese food company Fly by Jing (a.k.a. makers of your favorite chili crisp) to challenge the hierarchy of taste in the West. Writer/comedian/actress Jenny Yang combines humor and activism to tackle race and class, while Angry Asian Man‘s Phil Yu has voiced his opinions on Asian-American affairs and pop culture for years.

A nonprofit collective of creative voices and influential leaders, Gold House rallies for multicultural representation and socioeconomic equity. Meanwhile, apparel brand Asian American Girl Club, founded by actress Ally Maki, celebrates AAPI women.

Speak up if you witness anti-Asian crimes or biased incidents 

We don’t have truly comprehensive and accurate data on anti-Asian crimes, so it’s critical to keep track of them. You can report crimes to Stop AAPI Hate, which helps monitor and respond to incidents of violence, harassment, and more. Between March 19, 2020, and February 28, 2021, the organization logged nearly 3,800 incidents in the U.S., a figure that’s likely far higher in reality.

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association has established pro bono legal resources, while Asian-Americans Advancing Justice offers free bystander training workshops that teach how to intervene effectively without compromising your safety. Fearful for her own parents’ well-being, Esther Lim-a second-generation Korean-American born in LA-launched a grassroots project, creating booklets on how to recognize and report hate crimes. Digital and print versions are now available in seven languages.

Tiffany Tse is a Thrillist contributor and a proud member of the AAPI community in LA.

Los Angeles

How to Spend a Weekend in Topanga Canyon

Nature and the arts collide in this beloved canyon community.

Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

Situated in the Santa Monica Mountains and known for its vibrant creative community, Topanga is one of Los Angeles’s most prized destinations for art and outdoor enthusiasts alike. And while LA boasts its own sprawling landscape of fun to tap into, you’d be remiss to miss a chance to explore this tucked-away collection of state parks, and cafes, and restaurants-especially when it all rests just 20 minutes away from the city. From a quaint caf√© with dazzling canyon views to a world-renowned, open-air theatre, here are the best ways to pass some time in Topanga now.

Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray

Friday

Book dinner at Inn of the Seventh Ray
Owner Lucille Yaney opened this iconic restaurant in 1975 after spotting the property on a drive through the canyon with her late husband Ralph, and it’s safe to say she had a good eye. The land perfectly fits into Yaney’s vision of a romantic, alfresco dining space with tables tucked into cozy nooks and gazebos, all beneath canapes and fairy lights. Today, Yaney co-owns the venue with executive chef consultant Brad Miller. Together, they continue to fulfil the restaurant’s original mission to serve pure, natural foods reflective of the season’s best. That approach appears in dishes like 8-Hour Black Vinegar Braised Short Rib with creamy rosemary polenta, duck bacon Brussels sprouts, and caramelized onion and fig jam; Roasted Mushroom Toast with oyster mushrooms and sherry tarragon cream; and Beets & Whipped Black Pepper Creme Fraiche. Consider the carbs here. Pastas and sauces are made in-house and from scratch, as is the bread (available regular or gluten-free), an order of which you won’t want to miss. Check out the wine list, too, which offers a robust organic and biodynamic selection that has helped the restaurant garner some impressive accolades in recent years.

Check into Topanga Canyon Inn
In addition to plenty of excellent Airbnbs available to rent in the Canyon, there’s Topanga Canyon Inn, a charming bed and breakfast comprised of two Mediterranean-style buildings-Casa Blanca and Casa Rosa-both built by the owners. Guests can enjoy bespoke design details in each room, along with gorgeous mountain views from their own private balcony. Come morning, join other travellers for breakfast, served daily at Casa Rosa.

Saturday

Get coffee at Café on 27
Ready your camera for a coffee date at this AM eatery and caf√©, where ample (and busy) outdoor seating offers some of the Canyon’s best views. A full breakfast and lunch menu is available (complete with hearty orders like eggs Benedicts, soups, and club sandwiches), but for lighter morning fare, spring for a pastry and any of their specialty drinks, such as the turmeric latte or Moroccan mocha.

Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock

Hike Topanga State Park
Spanning 11,000 acres and 36 miles of trails, Topanga State Park is the largest state park within the Santa Monica Mountains and one of the world’s largest parks within city limits. Visitors can access the grounds via more than 60 entrances. Once on the trails, enjoy sweeping vistas while exploring the region’s range of plants, habitats, and wildlife, including several resident bird species.

Grab lunch at Topanga Living Café
Guided by their Topanga upbringing and need for a community gathering spot with great eats, sibling team Agustina Ferguson and Bayu Suryawan opened this daytime eatery in 2016. Ever since, locals and visitors have found refuge in the caf√©’s warm, airy space and nourishing, hyper-fresh fare-all California-inspired with global influences. Check it out in plates like the Island Style, a breakfast salad with Balinese corn fritters, a poached egg, and house-made chilli jam, or the tacos (Baja Fish or Baja Shrimp, Carne Asada, or Kabocha Squash), made-to-order and served on handmade tortillas. If you’re seeking something shareable, try the Farmers Market Crudite, a seemingly humble order whose bright beet hummus reminds us that eating your vegetables is, indeed, very cool. And take a drink to-go. The team here takes great pride in their coffee (organic espresso, courtesy of their iconic pink La Marzocco machine) and a lineup of made-to-order smoothies, juices, and teas. Shop your way through town
Visitors can stroll through the town centre’s most popular shops for various fun finds, including Moona Star, Pebbles, and Topanga Homegrown. Be sure to stock up on specialty, local snacks at Canyon Gourmet and satiate your sweet tooth while you’re at it. The organic soft-serve there is a must. Pro tip: Top it with any of their artisanal syrups for a winning combo, namely, the vanilla with cardamom.

Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum

Catch a show at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
This beloved open-air theatre has hosted productions for decades and is recognized worldwide for its Shakespeare interpretations. In addition to its annual summer season, which includes works like Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the venue hosts concerts, rehearsals, and classes throughout the year for budding actors and playwrights of all ages.

Snag a slice at Endless Colour
This family-run pizza joint specializes in from-scratch pies with clever topping combinations (think purple potatoes, fontina, and truffle oil in the Purple Molly Potato or spinach, leeks, and goat cheese in the Super Greens). Bring some friends, order a pie or two, and check out the drinks list, which includes offbeat options like orange wines and hard kombucha.

Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery

Sunday

Check out The Canyon Bakery’s “Sunday Funday”
Situated on the grounds of the aforementioned Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, this bakery specializes in naturally leavened breads, pastries, cakes, and cookies using locally sourced, whole grain flours. There’s a takeout window on Sundays, from 9:30 am until the bakery sells out. A strong following lines up for favourites, such as whole grain croissants and gluten-free pizza, so be sure to arrive early to get your fill.

Try tacos to-go at La Chingona
On your way out of town, grab some tacos at La Chingona, where a team puts forth fresh, organic, gluten- and dairy-free tacos. Orders range to include options like grass-fed beef (carne asada), shrimp (wild-caught), and soy chorizo and can be fashioned into plates beyond tacos, too (think tostadas, salads, and bowls). Open only on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays; this taco stand sees good demand. Plan accordingly, pending your travels, especially to savour an order or two of the churros.

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Nicole Schnitzler is a contributor for Thrillist.

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