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I am a freelance writer for newspapers,magazines as well as a journalist for TV.
I am from Tokyo, Japan and have been living in Los Angeles since 1990.

#211- 7 hours in San Gabriel & Monterey Park

The other day, I had a wonderful time with two new Chinese friends (Ms.B & her sister, Ms.K).

Just 20 minutes driving from my place… there is suburban Chinatown/ new Chinatown (San Gabriel & Monterey Park in Los Angeles County) and I had an amazing time for 7 hours.

I have been to San Gabriel & Monterey Park a couple times in the past with American friends and a Taiwanese friend, but I guess I didn’t have enough experience of Chinese culture…


Ms.B treated me for dim sum at NEW CAPITAL SEAFOOD RESTAURANT in San Gabriel. There were so many people (about 100 people) waiting for dim sum, but it was worth of an hour wait. They served us very delicious dim sum.

I had eaten dim sum so many times with American friends in Los Angeles or my Japanese family & friends in Japan, but I ate new items with Ms.B & Ms.K the other day. Beef Tendon and Chicken Claws…it was my first time to taste those…! Ms.K told me, “These are good for our skin!”…Oh…nice… :)

Now I understand how my American friends feel when I eat my favorite “Fried Sweet Shrimp Heads” at sushi bar… :)

Culture shock #1: When I was eating Chicken Claws, I was almost eating everything (I mean, bones), thank god… Ms.K told me, “Yoko, don’t eat bones, just eat skins”. If I eat Chicken Claws with my American friends, I probably eat everything…!

Tips #1: Eat Chinese food with Chinese friends. More fun and more delicious.


After our dim sum, Ms.B and Ms.K took me to Focus Store. OMG… there are so many products from Japan, Taiwan and China. Compare to Gelson’s (I usually shop at Gelson’s) or Japanese super market (I go to some Japanese super markets once in a while)…amazing prices! I’ve got two bottle of Nigori Sake, a cooking knife and a ladle from Japan (they are “made in Japan” products). I was looking for that “made in Japan” stuff with reasonable price for such a long time…!

Then Ms.B and Ms.K took me to 99 Ranch Market, and I’ve also got some stuff there. I’ve got a 5 pound bag of Japanese rice for $4.99! … I can’t get a 5 pound bag of Japanese rice for $4.99 at Gelson’s.

Ms.K said to me,  “Yoko, you should get this bag of Japanese rice (15lbs) instead of that (5lbs)”.

Me: I am ok… that (15lbs) is very heavy. I can’t carry that.

Ms.K: I can carry this (15lbs) to your car, so you should buy it!

After I bought a 5 pound bag of Japanese rice…I saw a 15 pound bag of Japanese rice at the front of the store…

Me: Oh… no… same brand??? One bag for $5.98???

Ms.K: I told you! This 15 pound bag of Japanese rice is $5.98 and yours is $4.99 (5lbs). You should exchange your 5lbs bag to 15lbs bag.

Me: Oh…it’s all right… It’s heavy…but…wow…so cheap…!

Ms.K: Let’s go to exchange them!

Ms.K is so kind that she helped me to exchange my rice and she brought bag of rice (15lbs heavy) to my car.

I thought I am good at negotiation, but Ms.K is a super good negotiator!

Ms.B went back to the store as well. She got a great deal strawberries.

Wow, what a smart & kind Chinese people.

Culture shock #2: There are reasonable price Japanese products in new Chinatown (San Gabriel & Monterey Park).

Tips #2: Compare the prices, don’t hesitate to exchange products.


One restaurant and two stores later, Ms.B and Ms.K took me to LEE’S SANDWICHES ( for an iced coffee. Wow… a real Vietnamese iced coffee!  So tasty! Again, Ms.B treated me for an iced coffee and cookies.

What a nice coffee time… I was so happy in San Gabriel with two wonderful new Chinese friends.

Culture shock #3: The best strong & sweet iced coffee is at LEE’S SANDWICHIES.

Tips #3: If you like strong coffee, go to Vietnamese coffee place.


Ms.B asked me, “Yoko, you wanna buy a Japanese style roll cake right? I know the great place for you!”

Ms.B and Ms.K took me to the Bakery, KiKi Bakery. “Ok… I will get a roll cake!”

Me: OMG… So cheap!  $3.50 each?

Ms.B: No… three breads for $3.50.

Me: What??? I bought many breads at Gelson’s yesterday, so I can’t buy many breads today…Oh… you know what, I can freeze breads from Gelson’s, and I can eat these breads this week, right?

I bought some breads and a roll cake.

Culture shock #4: Tasty Japanese style breads and cakes are in new Chinatown.

Tips #4: Go to new Chinatown when you are hungry.


Ok… time to go home…

Ms.B: You wanna see DAISO JAPAN in Monterey Park?

Me: I’ve heard about the store, but I’ve never been to the store yet. Is that store nice?

Ms.B and Ms.K took me there… I’ve got a cute pink salad bowl, cute white & pink salad server tongs etc… we’ve been there for about one hour…

Culture shock #5: I thought Japanese products are very expensive (excuse me, I am Japanese from Japan!)… but there are very cheap & cute Japanese stuff at DAISO JAPAN…! “DAISO JAPAN” = “99 Cents Only Stores” + “IKEA”

Tips #5: If you want to buy reasonable price Japanese products, go to DAISO JAPAN.


I was just going for lunch in San Gabriel, but I spent 7 hours in San Gabriel & Monterey Park with two wonderful new friends. It was an amazing day & wonderful culture shock day.

Life is fun & delicious.

I hope you are having a fun & delicious life too :)

P.S. If you are looking for a house or condo (want to buy, sell, or interest in real estate), Ms.K is a realtor. Call Kerri at Keller Williams Realty in Pasadena (Office: 626-204-3300). Remember, Kerri is a very smart & beautiful woman, and I am a little bit a psychic (read my post on April 21, 2013) which means, I can tell “Kerri will help you to find your nice home or sell your home in Los Angeles”.

By Yoko Fujimoto
Los Angeles May 1, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Yoko Fujimoto

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