As the seventh busy week of my SURF project came and went, I found myself experiencing a serious case of déjà vu. How so you might ask? By taking a visit to Tokyo! Well, to be precise, Little Tokyo. This past weekend was the 70th annual Nisei Week (“nisei” meaning second-generation in Japanese). So, my friends and I decided to head down to Little Tokyo to check out the festivities and eat some delicious food.
Although, it certainly is a hassle and very difficult to get around places in California without a car, it isn’t impossible. Here’s a shot of the inside of the metro train. Thought the closest station to Caltech is a mere inch away when looking on Google maps, it does take about 30 minutes or so of walking to reach it. But, once you’re there, the metro can take you anywhere from downtown LA to the Pacific coast, and you can even connect at Union Station onto the Amtrack and ride it all the way up to San Francisco.
Little Tokyo is about a 40 minute train ride from the Lake Station where my friends and I hopped on (although it's not too bad considering it's about a 25-35 minute car ride and more if the traffic getting into downtown LA is bad, which it usually is). Famished from our trip, my friends and I decided to take a stop at Daikokuya restaurant, which is famous for their ramen. But, being as famous as it is (with over 1700 review on Yelp and a 4-star rating) my friends and I had to wait a good 40 minutes to eat. However, we were willing to wait only because of the festival. Because when there's a festival, there are tons of booths with yummy food for sale! One example?
This stand selling takoyaki! What is takoyaki you might ask? Well it literally means "grilled octopus". But, to describe it more thoroughly, takoyaki is like a round dumpling with a diced octopus and pickled ginger inside and covered with a special sweet, soy-saucey takoyaki sauce, dried seaweed, Japanese mayonnaise, and green onions. So it might not sound very palatable to the Western tongue, but trust me, they're delicious. And very, very hot! Don't make the mistake some of my friends did and stick the whole ball into your mouth. They told me it was very painful and I'm sure it was very true.
But, back to the food.... After waiting just under 40 minutes, my friends and I headed back to Daikokuya, our hunger partially satiated from our snacking, but still craving more delicious food. And were we rewarded. Pictured is the Daikokuya ramen special: A miso-based broth containing ramen noodles, a hard-boiled egg, tender grilled pork, and lots of green onions and pickled ginger. Though the ramen was a little rubbery for my taste (my friends teased me about being too snobby about Japanese food), the flavor was delicious! Definitely worth the wait :)
After eating, my friend and I decided to check out some more of the booths and stores. But, among the touristy shops, were some more traditional Japanese displays. One being a gallery of flower arrangements. I'm no expert on Japanese flower arrangement so I won't even try to describe their history and purpose other than to say that they sure are unique and very beautiful!
One of my favorite things about being at Caltech in the summer? Having the time to spend time with friends! During the year, while there is always plenty of time to be with friends (read, do problem sets with friends and fall asle... stay awake in class together) it's always difficult to find the time to go places together, if not partly because all of my friends who had a car last year decided to be lazy. But, in the summer, even though SURF takes up most of our times during the weekdays, there's always plenty of time on the weekends to get together and explore more of LA!
Another nice thing about the summer is being able to (bake as I mentioned on my last blog) and to be able to cook. While the Caltech dining services provides dinner for on-campus students during the school year, all of us are left to fend for ourselves during the summer. But, instead ofbegrudgingwhat might be a predicament to some, I embraced this chance to eat healthier and yummier foods. Well, that was the plan at least. While I'll admit that there has been many meals of instant noodles, instant mac, and instant everything else, as well as diet-portioned dinners of peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches and egg, ham and cheese omelets, there are those ambitious days when I try to cook. Like this one! So, while this isn't 100% handmade (the sauce base was already pre-made), I did have to go through the trouble of cutting and cooking the chicken and mushrooms and frying the egg, so I'll give myself the credit of saying that this was a homemade meal :) And it nearly as delicious as any of the pasta dishes as the ones I eat back at home.
And of course, the best thing about summer is going to many different dessert places.....
But, time to lose all those calories!! Till next time :)
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.
Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under the mentorship of senior research technologist Dr. Xiaoqing Pi. Dr. Pi’s guidance and mentorship has been instrumental to the development and success of my internship at JPL, where I use machine-learning to enhance the accuracy and integrity of navigation and communication signals. In addition to helping me develop an understanding of atmospheric and ionospheric remote sensing and machine-learning, Dr. Pi has often offered his insights on how to improve my researching skills. Dr. Pi was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions regarding his research and advice for future student interns. I believe many students can benefit from some of the lessons that he has taught me:
The transition period to remote learning was a very uncertain time, especially for research and the Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. Many hands-on projects had to pivot at the last minute to facilitate off-campus contributions. However, many Techers were able to take advantage of the research opportunities offered at Caltech and JPL to make the best out of remote learning and research. To paint a picture, I’ve interviewed a few talented Techers for some insight on what researching from home looks like for them.