It’s unimaginable to not smile round Atsuko Okatsuka. Together with her charming bowl haircut, eye-catching outfits, and disarming candor, the slapstick comedian, actor, and author is quick changing into a family identify following the smashing success of her debut stand-up particular The Intruder, which premiered on HBO in December. Earlier than lighting up the stage for thousands and thousands of streamers along with her distinctive model of humor, Okatsuka was successful TikTok with the #DropChallenge, which she created along with her grandmother final 12 months.
When Okatsuka immigrated to the U.S. at age 10, she settled in West Los Angeles at her uncle’s condo along with her mom and grandmother. Coming from Chiba prefecture not far outdoors Tokyo, Los Angeles’s countless sprawl and fewer reliable public transit was one thing to get accustomed to. “I used to be on Colby Avenue close to Barrington. I did suppose, ‘God, we’re strolling rather a lot simply to get to McDonald’s,’” says Okatsuka. “After which if we didn’t wish to eat at McDonald’s, it was simply Marie Callender’s proper subsequent door. So in my head, it was both McDonald’s or superb eating.” At house, meals have been principally cooked by her grandmother, who served easy stir-fried greens, steamed white rice, and “candy slimy hen” on cafeteria-style trays.
Nowadays, Okatsuka lives in Silver Lake along with her husband Ryan Harper Grey, an actor, director, and producer. When she isn’t on the highway performing to sold-out crowds, the charismatic comic might be discovered sipping mezcal on the rocks at her neighborhood watering gap or tucking into a complete sizzling pot solo on the Santa Anita mall.
Eater LA sat down with Okatsuka to listen to the place she likes to eat and drink in LA, why much less is extra in relation to Japanese meals, and what makes the Cheesecake Manufacturing facility splendid for celebrations.
Eater: How has rising up in Japan influenced your palate?
Atsuko Okatsuka: As a child, I didn’t actually dabble in spices and issues like that. It was quite simple. I simply went with no matter flavors the adults really helpful. Japanese curry might be essentially the most flavorful factor that I used to be consuming again then. Once I’m consuming Japanese meals now, I would like easy flavors. If I do get rolls, it’ll simply be one fish in it. I received’t do those with three or 4 fishes, flakes of tempura, and drizzles of various issues. I normally don’t go for those which are named, like, the Obama Roll.
Does this choice for extra simple flavors prolong to different cuisines?
It doesn’t, as a result of with Korean meals or Caribbean meals or no matter, I’m like, “Make it as wild as potential. Put all of the spices in there. When you have tzatziki sauce, garlic sauce, and hummus, are you able to simply put all of it on my plate? Sure, I do know it’s an additional $5.”
You’ve been touring rather a lot recently. Have you ever encountered something scrumptious whereas on the highway that you just wished existed in LA?
Richland Middle meals courtroom in Chicago’s Chinatown — it was actually wonderful. They’ve northern Chinese language meals that’s actually good: potato noodles and hand-pulled noodles with a really particular taste that we haven’t tried or seen earlier than. It virtually made me right into a foodie the place I used to be really studying stuff and Googling, which I by no means do.
Once we have been in Edinburgh, Scotland, the meals by the immigrants there have been by far a few of the finest I’ve ever had. I imply, the Malaysian meals in Malaysia, you’ll be able to’t beat that. However for Edinburgh? I used to be like, “What even is the inhabitants of Malaysian individuals right here?” It was known as Kampong Ah Lee. After which there was Tajore, this South Indian restaurant the place they’d any such curry that I’ve by no means had in LA. I’ve tried to search out Chettinad Village curry in LA and I haven’t fairly discovered it.
Once you’re house in Silver Lake, the place are you consuming and ingesting?
Edendale could be very walkable for us. And we’re about comfort, and that’s the place my husband and I went on our first date, too, so it’s sort of good and candy. For a sit-down, now we have actually been digging this place known as Izakaya Osen if we wish to perhaps impress a pal on the town or have a pleasant meal with my supervisor or one thing. For breakfast, if you wish to seize one thing actually quick, we’re close to Atwater Village and Ryan actually loves Tacos Villa Corona. It’s only a window they usually make breakfast burritos. I get the steak breakfast burrito with no papas.
You’re usually lunching within the San Gabriel Valley with household. The place are y’all consuming?
We go to Arcadia rather a lot; that’s the place my grandma and my mother stay. We eat a mixture of independently owned and chain eating places. Sushi Kiyosuzu is a Japanese restaurant in a predominantly Chinese language neighborhood, however they do properly. It’s a wife-and-husband couple, their daughter Mirai [Nagasu] is a pal of mine and a former Olympic ice skater.
I’m going to Meizhou Dongpo which is within the Arcadia mall. It’s chaotic going over to Grandma and Mother’s, ? We’ve to assist them arrange a Google Residence machine or determine why their telephone isn’t working, or pay the payments and stuff. It’s good throughout lunchtime on a weekday at Meizhou Dongpo. It’s so spacious, I swear it’s like a banquet corridor. We wish to go there to have some house and eat scrumptious Chinese language meals. I wish to get this sizzling pot that has Spam and quail eggs.
What under-the-radar spots are you at the moment loving?
Chang’s Backyard in Arcadia for Sichuan twice-cooked pork and water-boiled fish. The clam soup is de facto good there; it’s a lighter taste and offsets the Sichuan taste. They’ve this fried rice in an egg omelet — you open up the egg omelet after which there’s the fried rice in it.
And what are Grandma’s favourite spots?
She’s the one which was like, “Let’s go to Chef Tony.” We like consuming gold leaf generally to be like, “Wow, are we wealthy now?” They usually put gold leaf on a whole lot of their meals. I all the time love sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves. I additionally actually like tripe with radish, however they don’t have that there, so I’ll simply get the shu mai. It comes with a little bit caviar on prime so you’re feeling fancy once more. She loves this Korean place in Arcadia, too, Myung Ga Haejangguk; they’ve good galbi-tang.
Are there any eating places or neighborhoods value braving LA visitors for?
I get actually excited after I get to go to Little Tokyo. I like getting the broiled mackerel at Suehiro Cafe. That’s a mom-and-pop store that’s doing actually nice and I’m so happy with them. Additionally, Marukai Market. Their sushi is de facto, actually good. I can eat that rather a lot, the hand rolls, and generally I’ll even get a curry with katsu. We use their microwave, get a seat within the little plaza, and simply take a second. That’s our picnic time. We don’t hike and stuff, in order that’s us going outdoor. I haven’t gotten to try this shortly due to the tour, however after I can, that’s a enjoyable Sunday exercise.
Once you’ve acquired one thing to have a good time, the place are you headed?
Cheesecake Manufacturing facility — go large or go house, ? I don’t actually eat that sometimes everyday, so we’re like, “The place do individuals go or used to go earlier than they acquired all cool? The Olive Gardens, Cheesecake Factories, Crimson Lobsters.” I actually just like the jambalaya there. In the case of American or Western meals, I get actually into the creamy, the ranch, the cheese. In order that’s a time for me to get gluttonous. You possibly can barely make it out of there alive however I sort of like that. Hey, it’s my birthday.
This interview has been edited for size and readability.