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Kiku, Suama and Shigure Mochi at Fugetsu-Do.
NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDE

A guide to local favorites in Little Tokyo

Kiku, Suama and Shigure Mochi at Fugetsu-Do.
  • By Mia Nakaji Monnier
  • Photos by Lisa Corson
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Little Tokyo
Los Angeles
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Little Tokyo is quickly changing, as the loft apartments, boutiques and trendy restaurants of the neighboring Arts District spread across the border. The northeast corner of downtown L.A. has been a cultural hub for Japanese Americans since before their forced removal during World War II, and many community organizations, artists and activists are still here, using the concentration camp story to advocate for immigrant and minority groups facing discrimination today.

Meet Mia Nakaji Monnier

Mia was born in Pasadena and moved seven times across the country before finishing high school in L.A.’s South Bay. After going to college in Vermont, she came back to L.A. in 2010 and has lived here since. Before going freelance, she worked on staff at the Rafu Shimpo, the local Japanese American community newspaper, based in Little Tokyo.

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Little Tokyo

Japanese American National Museum
The museum has a permanent exhibit, “Common Ground,” dedicated to the timeline of Japanese American history, from immigration to the World War II concentration camps to the redress movement of the 1980s.
Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave. Los Angeles, Calif. 90012
Suehiro Cafe
In a neighborhood quickly filling with expensive food, long live the oasis of Suehiro’s lunch special. For $6.50, you can have a full meal.
Suehiro Cafe, 337 E. First St. Los Angeles, Calif. 90012
Fugetsu-Do
This Japanese dessert shop sells bulk mochi bits to frozen-yogurt shops, but that’s only the beginning of what it can do with rice flour. Fugetsu-Do’s sweets range from traditional Japanese red-bean-paste-filled daifuku to very American interpretations like peanut butter mochi.
Fugetsu-Do, 315 E. First St. Los Angeles, Calif. 90012
Cafe Dulce
Everything at Cafe Dulce seems designed to inspire delight, from the colorful pastries to the adorably illustrated cup sleeves. Go for the tapioca rolls or dino-egg rolls, both chewy and subtly sweet beneath a thin crust.
Cafe Dulce, 134 Japanese Village Plaza Mall Los Angeles, Calif. 90012
Cafe Demitasse
The first location in a small local chain, this coffee shop always has interesting seasonal drinks, like the sparkling sour cherry iced tea. Its pastries come from local Sugarbloom Bakery and include the kimchi spam croissant, the answer to your umami craving.
Cafe Demitasse, 135 San Pedro St. Los Angeles, Calif. 90012
Kinokuniya Books
From Studio Ghibli movies to stationery to Japanese literature in both Japanese and English, there’s a souvenir for everyone here.
Kinokuniya Books, 123 Astronaut E. S. Onizuka St. #205 Los Angeles, Calif. 90012
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Mia Nakaji Monnier
Mia was born in Pasadena and moved seven times across the country before finishing high school in L.A.’s South Bay. After going to college in Vermont, she came back to L.A. in 2010 and has lived here since. Before going freelance, she worked on staff at the Rafu Shimpo, the local Japanese American community newspaper, based in Little Tokyo.
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Lisa Corson
Lisa is a contributing photographer to The Washington Post based in Los Angeles.

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