Thursday, September 20, 2007

My Last Blog: Sayoonara!!! :(

Bringing some closure to all things Tofu
This will be my very last blog to say "good-bye" and close my blog! I just wanted to say "Thank you" to all the those people who visited my blog both before and after the 2007 Tofu Festival! Thank you to all those people who read both my blogs entitled "2007 Tofu Festival," and later, "Post-Tofu Festival." It was a really fun, exciting, interesting,and rewarding experience all at the same time, to have a personal blog, because I am a Tofu, and I never thought that I could be so "tech savy." hehe.Who would have thought?
Through this blog I learned a lot about the capablitlies of wi-fi tecnology in the Little Tokyo community and its much needed importance to not only bring technology, communication, and the world wide web to the community, but to also help "bridge the gap" between the older generations and the younger generations, and having that "one interpersonal connection" be a wi-fi internet connection or a "technological connection" of any kind. I really see the future of community and technology tied together as one! This union is embodied in the heart, mind, and spirit of the Little Tokyo community! =p I also strongly believe that Little Tokyo community will taken this difficult, but exciting and rewarding "technological role," with both arms held wide open. Our community will try, with whatever means necessary, to meet the techological needs of members within the community, and those outside the community, as best we can. Hopefully, new technology such as the Little Tokyo Unplugged, a community wi-fi network, will one day at a time, bridge members of the Little Tokyo Community, with members from the greater Los Angeles and outlying areas. Gambarimashoo! (Let's all work our hardest!)
I also learned a great detail about the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC), where I work at as their "one and only" Tofu mascot!!! I have to work hard because I am a Tofu, but the staff at LTSC are super nice and super kind. I really loving working with such nice and caring people! I hope that I can come back to LTSC for another Tofu Festival and work again with such great people and such a great community-based organization!
Now that my job is temporarily over, I may come back, you never know, but for now, this is my last good-bye as LTSC's and the 2007 Tofu Festival's mascot!!!
I will miss you all! I had a great time writing this blog, so I hope you guys will revisit my blog once more, even though the Tofu Festival is long over, and a take a stop in your busy lives to reflect on anything on my blog and leave learning something new, about Japanese and Japanese culture, about the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) and the Little Tokyo Unplugged Network, about the 2007 Tofu Festival, or about the Little Tokyo community and what community means to you! Whatever you walk away with learning from my personal Tofu Festival blog, I "thank you" for reading and supporting my cause, and more importantly, the cause of the Little Tokyo Service Center.
Minnasan, sayoonara! (Good-bye everyone!)
Arigatou Gozaimashita! (Thank you very much!)
Tofujii Tofu

A Technological Perspective to the LA Tofu Festival

The Little Tokyo Unplugged Booth:
Scavenger Hunt Game
During the 2007 Tofu Festival, I, Tofujii explored not only the food booths, health booths, community booths, and merchant booths at the festival, I also explored the tecnological booth as well. I got to see the many different booths offered at the festival and got to meet many interesting and unique people! What a great and fun time I had!

There, in between the drink booth and the volunteer booth, was the Little Tokyo Unplugged Network, with its cute posters that featured colorful anime drawings on its poster, and displays of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and runner-up positions. The posters also attracted many visitors at the Tofu Festival, because of they featured annedoctal messages on them, as well as a picture of me, Tofujii Tofu. You always need a little humor in every poster!!! The Little Tokyo Unplugged Network also stood out from the other Tofu Festival booths, because the Tofu Festival booths had big, large, orange banners, that displayed the booth name and the booth number on it, but the Little Tokyo Unplugged booth had one big banner on it, that read "Little Tokyo Unplugged: a community Wi Fi network." The banner was in big, blue letters with a white border, and a blue background, and the Liitle Tokyo Unplugged logo had a Japanese wooden watchtower in the background with the very first step of the watchtower reading "WiFi." The blue banner caught my eye, because it looked so nice from afar, amidst many other booths at the Tofu Festival.

As I was already very impressed by the banner, I then became even more estatic that there were players that anxiously came to the Wi-Fi booth, and actually wanted to first find out what exactly was the "Scavenger Hunt Game," and second, what they would need to play, and third, how would they play the game? As an third person observer, I witnessed two LTSC interns and two high school volunteers helping to assist players with these questions. I even saw players of the Scavenger Hunt game getting free water bottles! LTSC is so generous to provide free water to all volunteers and SH Game players! =p I asked the two interns where did they find such good prizes? They told me that the prizes were donated from a generous Japanese cell phone company, located in the Honda Plaza of Little Tokyo, called Ike Mac. This was already Ike Mac's second time donating to the SH Game, and they were very supportive to continue to host such a fun game! Ike Mac donated such great prizes such as Mp3 players, an AM-FM radio player, and USB memory sticks. I thought that the prizes were so great.

The Scavenger Hunt game's purpose is to promote the knowledge, sustainability, history and the living tradition of the Little Tokyo community, by encouraging players of the Scavenger Hunt game to go around Little Tokyo, by foot, and search for the answers to the questions provided online at the Scavenger Hunt Website. Participants had to use a PDA or a laptop, because players had to connect to the Little Tokyo Unplugged Network, which greatly helps to promote the free, commnity centered, wireless network. Once many Tofu Festival visitors know about the Little Tokyo Unplugged network, more and more people hopefully will come to Litte Tokyo, bringing their cell phones, pdas, and laptops with them, and connect to the Little Tokyo Unplugged network.

Players seemed to come away with a vast and deep knowledge of the Little Tokyo community, by learning much about historic Little Tokyo, and about the struggles of Japanese and Japanese American, Issei, or first-generation sojouners, who believed that they could find success in their new country, America, by working very hard and creating such a great community such as Little Tokyo, that has lasted for over 100 years! Some players I talked to said that "I learned by playing the [Scavenger Hunt] game that you often miss little things around you," or "I learned much about Japanese American history and struggles that I didn't know before," and "I think this is a great way [the Scavenger Hunt game] to promote the wi-fi network in the community and for people to patron the businesses." Finally, one person said "I think that this [Scavenger Hunt] game is a good way to bring people out to the [Little Tokyo] community. We need more young people to come."

Overall, I think that the 2007 Tofu Festival and the Scavenger Hunt Game was a great success, and people from all backgrounds, cultures, professions, personalities, experience levels with past Tofu Festivals, and those having knowledge about the Little Tokyo Community, and about the Japanese and Japanese American Experience, still walked, ran, or drove away, with a very special feeling; a feeling of COMMUNITY!
I felt very privledged to experience such a remarkable feeling!!!


Tofujii Tofu


The pictures featured in these photos were taken from an LTSC Intern, Vinh Nguyen. (All rights reserved)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

2007 Tofu Festival: Other Perspectives

The Non-Food Booths:
A very informative experience

As there were alot of people at the Tofu Festival enjoying good fun, lively entertainment, and friendly people, I, Tofujii, tried to venture off to check out some of the other booths, besides the Tofu ones. It was not long before I ran in to some booths that caught my eye. After all, the Tofu Festival is not only about "Tofu," but actually about other informative things such as community service, cultural information, public and health service, and don't forget fashion and Asian arts and crafts!

The Tofu Festival booths I visited include the Beer Garden, where booth #95 was located, called Singha Beer. Here, people came to escape from the Tofu Festival heat to escape from the blazing hot sun and sat down with friends and family to enjoy themselves with some ice cold beer.Everyone at the Beer Garden seemed to enjoy themselves, which costed 5 script tickets. I noticed many people wearing a colorful, festival wristband, which indicated that they were 21 years or older.
I then headed over to a Japanese cultural booth called the "Aomori Tourism and Convention Association." They were located in the Health & Fitness area, booth number #34. This booth had alot of valuable information about Japan such as prefecture (state) information as well as city information that tourists can learn about. I loved that my friend and I were able to take a free "goodie bag" of free stuff that I could fill up with free maps, pamplets, bookmarks, and tourist brochures. The "goodie bag" was so cute, because it had a really cool picture of the red-faced, scary-looking Aomori (Japanese god or deity) from Tohoku, which is a prefecture located in the north of Japan. I also enjoyed that people at the booth were very friendly, and were willingly to answer many of my questions about Tohoku, where the Aomori orginated from, and about the much anticipated Aomori float itself, a replica brought all the way from Japan!!! People in the Little Tokyo community were actually building the Aomori by hand!!! This was one of my favorite booths to visit in the entire Tofu Festival!!!
As I made my way down to further booths, I stopped by booth #69, which was the Chinatown Service Center. I, Tofujii, work for a non-profit company, the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC), so I was interested in other social service and community agencies. I had volunteered at CSC before, but I wanted to get a better knowledge of what CSC was all about. As I checked out their booth, I got to pick up brochures that talks about CSC's involvement within the Chinese and Chinese American community, in Chinatown! CSC is involved with the immigrant and elderly community, helping people and improving people's lives everyday. I really learned a lot about CSC and their purpose as a social service agency.
Finally, the Rafu Shimpo was a really nice and interesting booth for me to visit. I enjoyed visiting their booth the most because I know, being a member of the community, that the Rafu Shimpo, is one of the most active, involved, and influential newspapers in the Little Tokyo community. I talked to the Rafu Shimpo representative and he was quick to hand me brochures of the latest news, really chic and new graphic looking bookmarks, and informed me about the upcoming new sections in their newspaper such as their new sports edition and youth page, including a section dedicated to martial arts! I can't wait, since I do a little martial arts myself! Rafu Shimpo, overall, is a great newspaper, that continues to do such good for the Japanese and Japanese American community, as well as helping to contribute overall to entire Los Angeles and Southern California communities.
That's all for now! See u soon with my last blog about one more ecxiting and memorable experience of the Tofu Festival!
Mata ne! (See u later)......Coming back soon! =p
Tofujii Tofu

Tofu Festival: More Memorable Experiences

2007 Tofu Festival
Delicious Food Booths
On the day of Saturday, August 18, 2007 and Sunday, August 19, 2007, there were so many delicous food booths at the festival! I was so anxious to go out and taste all the delicous foods that the festival had to offer!
I love Tofu for many reasons, some being health reasons, but others being community reasons, because many people come together when they share something in common, such as Tofu.
I never dreamed that so many people loved eating Tofu, and would actually travel thousands of miles just to taste or eat Tofu. This is really impressive for those people one a tight budget! I really was so appreciative that everyone from the community came out to support the Tofu Festival! It just shows how much people can love a certain food and acutally try to encorporate it in to their busy lives. This is really hard when you think about it, because good health is so hard to maintain in the hustle and bustle of city life.
The Tofu booth that I really enjoyed eating was the delicious Korean food, Sundubu, that was at the festival, at booth #7, called BCD Tofu House. I mentioned this booth in an earlier blog, but I am revisiting it once more. You remember things later, even after the event has already passed. The Sundubu wasn't too spicy, nor too mild, but it was just right. I really enjoyed eating it so I went back for a second helping. It was only two script tickets and I really liked that there was a man yelling "come get your hot sundubu!" The man's enthuaism really made a difference on the overall experience at the Tofu Festival, both for me as Tofujii, and for the visitors of the Tofu Festival!
I also enjoyed booth #3, named Berth 55 Seafood. I really liked that this food had really good seafood and the owner of the booth is really nice, a regular patron, who comes every year to the Tofu Festival! Berth 55 Seafood hosted their original and world famous "Tuna Poke Salad," which tasted really fresh and delicious. I usually like sashimi, or Japanese raw fish, and their Poke salad, is basically raw fish on a bed of salad, with a layer of tofu on the bottom, which was really good to eat. As my tongue dipped in to the salad, the lettuce absorbed the hot temperature inside my mouth and all around me. The Tofu had a really nice taste, and the Poke seafood was really soft and yummy!
Booth #70, Starbucks, had a really tasty drink, called "Summer Frappaccinos" which came in many colorful colors, such as green and purple colors, hence the name of summer, such as semi-purple summer skies and green grass, green trees, and ice cold green tea. I tasted their purple drink, and me and my friend thought it was cold and refereshing. Starbucks gave these colorful drinks away, as part of their free samples! I remember the line being very long and people walked away with a smile on their face and a Frappaccino in their hands! What a great way to escape from the heat and the August sun rays.
Some of my other favorite food booths, which were completely sold out mind you, included booth #8, by Church of Perfect Liberty, hosting their cruchy, tasty, and oh so good, Tofu Tostadas! The Tofu Tostadas were guzzled down both Saturday and Sunday! I managed to get to eat one Tofu Tostada at the Tofu Festival and it was so good! I remember wanting to eat just one more, but it all gone. :( It was only 2 script tickets, just like the Sundubu was! I also rushed my little tofu body over to the Otafuku Foods, Inc., or booth #9, which were selling the Tofu Okonomiyaki, or Japanese Pancake w/Veggies. I can still smell the warm Oknonomiyaki bread and taste the sweet Okonomiyaki sauce that stuck on to my tongue, leaving a longlasting experience.The vegetable shavings added a flavorable taste to the Okonomiyaki. I even had the nice volunteers at the food booth put on some sweet Japanese mayonnaise (slightly sweeter then American mayonnaise), on top of the Okonomiyaki, to add even more flavor to the already delicious, Japanese pancake.
That's all for now.....I'll write one more blog about the other interesting observations that I experienced at the Tofu Festival, such as the "non-food booths," before I close-out for an extended rest, or yasumu, in Japanese.
Until next time! See you, bye bye!
Tofujii Tofu

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A trip to Oiwake's!!!


The all you can eat Japanese Lunch & Dinner Buffet!

Oiwake is a very well-known restaurant, similar to the Chop Suey House that was mentioned in my earlier blog. Oiwake's is a nice restaurant for eating good Japanese food, while being on a budget. Even though I am Tofujii, a Tofu, I know good Japanese food when I taste it and I definitely like Oiwake's food, because it tastes good and it good for me too! hehe.

Oiwake's is known for their lunch special, featured during the lunch hours of 11:00AM - 3:00PM everyday. The service is great and I love that I can eat all the rice (both fried and white), Tofu salad, desserts, miso soup (with Tofu), sushi, and of course, their chief's special, which changes daily, as much and as often as I'd like! Sometimes, Oiwake's chief special includes "Specials with Tofu!!!" Yum Yum Yum!!!

The dishes that I tried (please see above) were the Tofu Salad and the Tofu Dish with Beef and Vegetables.The Tofu Salad (pictured with thirst-quenching Iced Green Tea) was a real treat, because the lettuce in the green Tofu Salad tasted really crisp, the tomato was sweet and soft, melting in my mouth, and the cucumbers just as delcious and crispy as the lettuce was!

The other "Chief's Special" that I enjoyed eating was the Tofu Dish with Beef and Vegetables. The beef in the dish added much flavor to the overall taste of the dish. The beef (please see above) we're not those types of meat that hurt your mouth or teeth, but rather, the meat was soft and flavorful. Also, the Vegetables just added a "great compliment" to the square-shaped Tofu. There we're onions in this dish, but they weren't strong tasting at all, they acutally just sensuated the flavor in to the Tofu. That's the joy of Tofu! Tofu may be plain at first sight, but think of Tofu as "one big sponge.....a sponge that absorbs the flavor in to the Tofu!!!" No matter what compliment, Tofu can absorb the flavor!

I also ate their delicious desserts while at the lunch buffet. They offer an array of desserts like cake, soft serve ice cream, really good custard desserts, and others.....the list goes on.

Oiwake's website is: I encourage you to visit their restaurant when you come to Little Tokyo. Oiwake's is not just a place to eat Tofu and other healthy foods, but a place that sits in the middle of the Japanese Village Plaza (JVP), where their location is a prime spot to hang out with friends, especially for their delicious food, private rooms (you can reserve) and Karaoke that you also can enjoy!!!

I enjoy eating cold tofu, drinking flavored tea drinks, as part of my summer culture and tradition....whatever your "summer plans" are, (yes, there's still a little bit of summer left), don't forget to eat Tofu, come to Little Tokyo, and have fun! =p


Tofujii Tofujii


The cute pictures of Oiwake resturant and the pint-sized fish were taken online from Oiwake's website (All Right's Reserved)

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Trip To Las Galas

Tofu Rice:
A Real Treat For Everyone!!!

On Monday, August 27th, I went to this small, but really cute restaurant, named Las Galas Lunch/Dinner Restaurant, located in the Japanese Village Plaza (JVP), at 103 Japanese Village Plaza, to try some of their delicious Tofu!!! I wandered to their plaza during a quiet Monday afternoon. I immediately noticed their patrons sitting outside eating under an umbrella.

Their Tofu tasted really good and I liked that this particular establishment has lunch specials! =) This is great for students or anyone on a budget, because you don't have to pay full price just for lunch or a light meal!!! They also have plenty of condiments (please see above) that you can enjoy such as spicy Chinese sauce, Kikkoman soy sauce, pepper, salt, and teriyaki soy sauce. The last condiments I particularly enjoyed! yum.....teriyaki just goes so great with Tofu. I think that Tofu is very plain and bland, so a little teriyaki sauce makes a difference to your mouth and to your palette!

That day, I ate their "Tofu Vegatarian Bowl,"or you could call it their "Tofu Fried Rice in a Bowl," hehe, but I noticed that they also have a "Tofu Teriyaki Bowl." They even offer Tofu Bento too! My mouth started to water when I saw their Tofu Chowmein and their Tofu Curry too! It was all the dishes that I enjoy, except with Tofu in it! All of these dishes look very appetizing because you can see the food in the menu, which is posted outside the wall, that has many illustrative pictures of their food, while looking outside. I appreciated that because customers can get an understanding of what their eating, before they actually eat it. This was the first time that I ever ate at this restaurant, so the menu's really helped me.

Throughout the summer, I passed through the Japanese Village Plaza and noticed their cute, little corner restaurant at the end of the plaza, facing 1st Street, but never had I acutally tried out their food. I'm glad I did because I thought that the price was really good and their Tofu was even better.
See u later with another blog....Remember, there's only a few more blogs left for this month! =)


Friday, August 24, 2007

Tofu Festival-My Experiences

"The Great Food I had at Tofu Festival! "
I had a lot of fun at this year's 2007 Tofu Festival! I ate so much dishes of Tofu, I can't even remember exactly how much good fun that I had at this year's festival. It was really great tasting all the wonderful dishes and eating all the Tofu there!
I particularly remember the very tasty Korean food at the festival!!! I ate on Sunday, August 19, 2007, around 4pm, the delicious Sundubu dish (Korean spicy Tofu soup) that I ate. It was only two script tickets, or two dollars! The booth was number 7 and the name of the company was called "BCD Tofu House." I heard that "BCD Tofu House" is a very famous company in Korea and I think they may have it in Koreatown too! I really like this restaurant and booth's Korean food, especially considering I'm not Korean. I think for foreigners, even people from other Asian backgrounds, such as me, Japanese especially, we may not be used to eating such "spicy food." Therefore, I loved that BCD's food was not spicy at all, but not too watery either. BCD's Korean food was just right, right in the middle of my tummy! hehe.
I will blog another blog about other dishes I ate at the Tofu Festival!
Ja mata,

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Historical Chinese Cultural Experience

"A Trip to the Historic Chop Suey House"

I took a trip to the Chop Suey House on Monday, August 13, in Little Tokyo and ate Chinese food that was really delicious! The plate I ate came from the "lunch menu" and was a dish named "Mapo Tofu" or "Mapo Chicken Tofu." The dish consists of delicious bites of Tofu spread over a plate of white rice and includes small pieces of chicken.

I thought that the dish needed a little spice added to it, so I pepped up the Tofu Plate, by adding the Chinese chile oil to it. Since I am Japanese, I only know the Japanese name. Pardon me. The Japanese name of this chile oil is call "Layu." You can find this condiment at your local grocery store in the Asian Food Section. =) Layu is one of my favorite condiments!!! I think that Layu originated from China before becoming a favorite in Japanese cuisine. I also noticed the other condiments on the table at the Chop Suey House which included pepper and salt. These condiments we're so very delicious and added a great taste to the Tofu dish!!!
The Chop Suey House has been around for a very long time! Just a historical note, this restaurant was very well-known among Japanese and Japanese Americans that used to live or work in Little Tokyo, up until the 1940's, and still remains so even now! Many young people, including college students, such as UCLA students, have fundraisers and meetings in the evenings at the Chop Suey House with live entertainment, many including upcoming Asian American progressive artists, performaing live in Little Tokyo. The Chop Suey House is a great place, for me, Tofujii to hang out with friends!
I suggest that everyone come and visit the Chop Suey House soon!!! Don't miss their lunch specials that are under $10.00! Even with the coke I drank, this meal was under $12 bucks! I mean you can beat that in L.A.!
So next time come and visit Little Tokyo's historic Chop Suey House!