Japanese American National Museum Store

Best Of LA, April 2007

A rare museum shop that doesn’t take itself too seriously, the Japanese American National Museum Store is filled with playful items like Shiso Fine aprons, sushi-shaped candles, and wind-up dueling sumo wrestlers. But you’ll also find elegant Noguchi-designed silverware and ceramics, handmade tea bowls by celebrated ceramists daikon sprout seed packets, and a broad selection of books. 369 E. 1st St., 213-830-5685. 

Sure, the usual artists’ monographs are at the Hammer Museum Gallery BookStore. But so are overflowing sections on landscaping, photography, and art criticism. The children’s department—filled with Haba toys, Blabla dolls, and (yes) more books on art and artists—is also a standout. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, 310-443-7063. 

Bounty from around the globe makes up the bulk of treasure at the Craft and Folk Art Museum Shop: Indonesian wood masks, African baskets fashioned out of telephone wire, and silver jewelry from Tibet. Eco-conscious toddlers can find handmade toys that run only on imagination.  5814 Wilshire Blvd., L.A., 323-937-4230.

The loft-dwelling aesthete with modern tastes can’t go wrong buying one of Marc Newson’s clear plastic dish racks or perhaps a set of Tord Boontje’s graphic plates at the Museum of Contemporary Art Store. There’s a swell selection of artist-designed silk-screened T-shirts to fill the closet, too. 250 S. Grand Ave., L.A., 213-621-1710. 

The Pacific Asia Museum Store‘s mantra is “All things Asian.” That translates to Chinese celadon vases, Tibetan trunks, and traditional Mongolian velvet hats. We love the antique and vintage pieces, such as Japanese tansu chests and wood-block prints, as well. 46 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena, 626-449-2742. 

 

Best Museum Café, August 2013

Few cultural institutions can claim as essential a dining experience as the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo. The Chado Tea Room occupies a corner space just off the main entrance and mirrors the museum’s minimalist design with ashen woods and granite. The aroma of browned butter and strawberries is as comforting as a Zen garden. Care to join the tea sippers on the patio? Servers are happy to suggest just the right kukicha blend from the list of more than 300 varieties. Fuel up for that World War II exhibit with light sandwiches, such as the smoked-tea egg salad or warm scones with clotted cream and jam. They’re not exactly Japanese, but who’s complaining?