Where LA Food Influencer Jen Z Goes for Sandwiches, Kimbap, Boba and More

Need a place to eat in LA? Jen Zhang has you covered.

5 min read

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Jen Zhang moved out to Los Angeles eight years ago from Illinois, with no intentions of becoming one of the city’s most popular food and drink influencers. While studying business at USC, she started a make-your-own watch company called Rotate, a brand that she still maintains today. But two years ago, she got inspired to start her own TikTok based on her growing love of food and drink (with an extra push from a social media contest) and today has amassed over 100K followers. “I like experiences that are really unique,” Zhang says of her channel’s scope which includes not only food and drink, but things to do, beauty, and more. Having lived all over LA, she prefers the West Side where she is currently situated in Marina del Rey. Here, she shares some of her favorites spots for noodles, hangover meals, easy weeknight dinners, and more!

It’s my first time in LA, what are the must-trys? 

I love some of the more famous spots like Lawry’s The Prime Rib for both the meat and the throwback vibes, Gjusta for just about everything, and the BCD Tofu House for the tofu soup. But I also like to take my friends and family to lesser-known places as well, like Cafe 50’s. I love it because it's decorated floor -to-ceiling with 50s decor, the prices are cheap, they have 50+ milkshake flavors, and is just the most classic American diner. I also love C&O Cucina because they have the best free unlimited garlic knots and so many great pastas! 

What are your neighborhood mainstays?

I live in Venice so my go-tos are C&O Cucina for Italian food, Ekkamai for Thai food, and Society Kitchen for breakfast. It’s dog-friendly, has high-quality food, fun drinks, and a great vibe!

What do you order when you don’t feel like cooking dinner?

That changes a lot. I love Sushi Katsu-Ya in Studio City, they are the inventors of spicy tuna crispy rice! And in West LA I like Tasty Noodle House for authentic Chinese food at a low price with large portions, Seasalt Fish Grill for the freshest fish and chips in Culver City, and Moto Ramen (also in Culver) for tonkatsu (some of the best I’ve tried)!

What’s your favorite pre-hike meal (ideally near a hiking trail)?

I like to eat sandwiches before any hike for energy. My favorites are Bay Cities (Godfather sandwich is the OG and so worth it) on the Westside, or Ghost Sando Shop (which isn’t too far from Runyon).

What are the best spots for dumplings?

Anywhere in the 626 (San Gabriel Valley). Mama Lu’s and Lunasia Dim Sum House are both top tier. Closer to home, I like Dan Modern Chinese, It’s a smaller menu where everything tastes good, especially the soup dumplings. 

Kim bap?

Kimbap Paradise in Torrance! They specialize in fresh kimbap and have different flavors which I love. 


I love Tasty Noodle House. Tatsu Ramen in Sawtelle is affordable and has huge portions. I love 101 Noodle Express in the 626 because it’s super cheap and delicious. 

What do you order when you’re hungover?

Korean ox bone soup (seolleongtang) from Haemaru in Koreatown. Cures all! They make huge vats of the soup and it's slow cooked over the course of hours. It’s very flavorful. 

What’s your favorite weekday lunch (when ordering out)?

I like the paninis from Il Tramezzino in Beverly Hills; it’s an iconic spot that’s been around forever and specializes in paninis (like the famous chicken pesto). I also like pastrami from the legendary Canter’s Deli in Fairfax. 

Go-to coffee/breakfast order?

I go to Society Kitchen for their breakfast sandwich (sunny-side up eggs, bacon, monterey jack cheese, tomatoes, garlic-herb aioli on toasted sourdough) and house brewed coffee. 

What are the best boba spots in LA?

Teaspoon in Sawtelle and Chatime (multiple locations) are solid — both are boba chains. For a local one, I recommend Ume Tea in Culver City. They have plushies in their cups, it’s super unique! 

PHOTO CREDIT: courtesy of Jen Zhang