“My heart was bursting when I came here—it just felt right,” says Linda Sivrican of Sesame L.A. (936 N. Hill St.), her new pan-Asian market in Chinatown’s Central Plaza. The neighborhood is a nostalgic place for Sivrican, who was born in Vietnam and grew up in Upland, California. As a child, she used to spend weekends shopping and eating in Chinatown with her family. As a young adult, she studied at the nearby Institute for Art and Olfaction and went on to work as a perfumer, opening her own shop, Capsule Parfumerie, in Beverly Grove. Now she also has Sesame L.A., with its stylish, carefully selected mix of pantry staples.
“We have a super-small space, so everything we put in here we really, really love,” she says. Have a look.
Camphorous Steaming Herbs
“When you get sick or when you’re about to get sick, you boil these leaves in a big pot of water and hold a sheet over yourself and give yourself a whole-body sauna,” says Sivrican. “They really work. I grew up on the herbs, so I wanted to introduce them to people who aren’t familiar with them.”
Destroyer Jams and Nut Butters
Sivrican became friends with Jordan Kahn after he hired her to make fragrances for his famed avant-garde restaurant, Vespertine. She was keen to carry some of the gourmet-toast accoutrements he makes. “He’s been super supportive.”
Omsom Spice Packets
“They make it easy to create popular Asian meals at home,” she says of these pre-blended seasoning packs. “I love that they’re made by Vietnamese sisters who are loud and proud of our culture. I’m partial to their Vietnamese blend.”
“This is made by my mom’s former business partner in Orange County,” Sivrican says. “It’s a rich, fragrant dip, marinade, and sauté sauce with just the right amount of umami and spice. It’s really versatile and works with all types of protein and vegetables.”
Sivrican’s mother, who has worked in food for years, offers up comfort fare like veggie curry, beef bourguignon, and crab-and-asparagus soup in the refrigerated case. Sivrican says, “The food tastes like an elder makes it. So if you grew up around it, it would remind you of home.”
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