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Los Angeles Food Guide by Bonsai (Ryan Hubert)

Bonsai is an American DJ/production duo consisting of Ryan Hubert and Tim Glusko. Originally from opposite coasts, the two eventually met one another in San Diego and enmeshed their lived experiences in dance music. Bonsai currently gears up for the release of epic three-track EP, ‘Rule of Two’ on Steyoyoke Recordings. With a commanding style that doesn’t adhere to confines of any one genre, Bonsai’s addicting blend of dance music primes the duo for a sharp trajectory in the electronic music realm. Within this Los Angeles Food Guide by Bonsai, Ryan Hubert will present his most favourite spots in the city.

Los Angeles is a sprawling city, and the county is even larger. It spans from the Malibu coastline to the Angeles National Forest, to the famous San Gabriel Valley. As you can imagine the food scene here is as diverse and amazing as its people, possibly even more so. Because it is so plentiful and vast, I will take you on a journey through the food and drink of a Saturday when I perform in my home city. I spend most of my culinary journey at home in LA proper, Downtown.

Ryan Huberts LA love story

I was born in Rancho Cucamonga, California, a rock’s throw east on the (now) I-210 freeway. I never ventured to the biggest, and most well-known city, in California enough as a child/adolescent. For the indoctrination into ‘La La Land’, we need to rewind to university. I found my way into the dance music community circa 2008 while attending San Diego State University. Instantly I fell in love with the people, and the vast world within our world.

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I started going to shows and club events as often as I could, craving the connection with people I felt there. Like so many other ravers, I experienced a completeness, a feeling I felt nowhere else. I quickly became known as a festival-goer, and as soon as I could, a club rat. The music, the lights, the sound, the ambiance — I craved this more than I did anything else. It quickly became my life.

Fast forward to 2018, and I made the move to the formidable, vibrant city of Los Angeles, ‘The City of Angels’. The move was the physical manifestation of the “leap of faith” into the formidable music “industry”. If I was going to make it in this industry, this city would give me the best chance to do so.

Where to get the best coffee in Los Angeles

I am very much a creature of habit, and I require a routine, some might call it a “ritual”. I am a fairly superstitious person by nature. For me to operate at peak performance, whether that is to play a show or spend a day producing in the studio, I need the optimal source of caffeine. For that, we start in Los Angeles proper, the heart of Downtown. We will head to Broadway, looking for “The Eastern”.  It is a beautiful Art Deco building, built around 1930.  It is the only building constructed between the Great Depression and World War II. Nestled on its ground floor sits a quaint little Swedish coffee shop that serves beer, called IlCaffé. Very Chic, very European, and makes an amazing espresso. Southern California almost always has excellent weather, and even before the pandemic, they had a sizable patio located right on the sidewalk which spills directly into a closed lane on the street. This is ideal for people like me that enjoy the outdoors and people watching. My morning consists of a coffee, a muffin, and oftentimes a light beer and sparkling water, while making a journal entry, prepping a set, or simply taking in the morning hours.

A hotel with a view over LAs skyline

Our Next stop will be the rooftop at the NoMad Hotel. Known for its sweeping views of the Downtown skyline and its excellent wine list, this is a must if you want to experience LA like a swanky and sophisticated 1930’s movie star. The façade is that of an old 1920’s neoclassical bank building designed to house The Bank of Italy. The entirety of the building takes its influence from Italy from its Italianate Lobby to its al fresco rooftop bar and pool. Take the elevator to the rooftop to reach the cocktail bar (that serves a full menu), and a lush pool area. The pool area is for hotel guests only from sunrise to sunset. The constant mix of people makes for, again, excellent people watching. Bring your snobbiest of wine friends, as this rooftop bar is host to my favorite wine menu Downtown. They have a special “Oysters + Rosé” menu which is always where I start, a glass of Cabernet, or one of their craft cocktails, and a Dry-Aged Beef and Bacon Burger. If I am going only for appetizers, I really love their house-made Guacamole and Ceviche. Be careful to not get too comfortable, the intoxicating atmosphere and excellent food and drink will keep you there all night.

Little Tokyo – LA’s best sushi and ramen spots

Finally, after a nap or soundcheck, we will head back to Downtown LA to the historic district of “Little Tokyo”. This is not something you will want to miss, as it is one of the largest official Japan-towns in the US. It is centered around 1st Street, spanning about 15 blocks. There is everything from shops, to a Buddhist Temple, to delicious sushi and ramen, and even a Japanese Rooftop Garden open to the public. This is, for me, tradition before every show I attend and/or play in my home city. The restaurants in the Japanese Village are all delicious, but typically have long lines and wait times. If you can spare the time, they’re all amazing, you really can’t go wrong. After walking around, taking in all of the culture and working up a pre-show appetite, I almost always head to Teishokuya of Tokyo (T.O.T.). I am typically in a little bit of a hurry because I like to get to shows early to network and get a feel for the party, regardless if I am personally playing or if I am attending as a guest. ToT is located through the Japanese Village on Second Street. I am an adventurous eater and what stood out to me was the modest selection of comfort food as opposed to only Ramen or Sushi. I always have to be particular with what I order because I can not carry out food to the venue, so ordering is always hard. Asahi Super dry Beer (large 20oz), a small bottle of a floral unfiltered Sake, an order of Takoyaki (octopus), Spicy Edamame, and I can never pass up their special TOT Ramen. I always leave comfortably full and ready to dance.

Where to find real LA street food

There is time for one more “bonus food stop”. When the shows I attend or play are in Hollywood, I almost always give into my indulgences and buy a bacon-wrapped street dog for the car ride home.  They are cooked right there on mobile flat-top carts by the nicest people. They are cash only and very heavy on the gut. I know I will pay for it the next morning, but the nostalgia of real LA street food gets me every time. Everyone has to do it at least once. I hope you enjoyed tagging along with me on my pre-show routine. See you all soon, Cheers!

 

Click here for the Washington DC Food Guide of the other half on Bonsai: Tim Glusko.

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