Restaurant Owner Has Deep Roots at JANM

Chef Andrea Uyeda at her restaurant, ediBOL. Photo by Carol Cheh.
Chef Andrea Uyeda at her restaurant, ediBOL. Photo by Carol Cheh.

 

On a recent lunch outing, a few coworkers and I decided to try ediBOL, a new restaurant in the Arts District. We were delighted to find that not only was the food delicious, but the gracious owner and chef, Andrea Uyeda, has many connections to JANM—her father designed the first public iteration of the museum, when it was located in the Historic Building across the plaza from the current facility, and she herself volunteered at the museum as a child.

Uyeda has a special fondness for JANM, and recently agreed to join the museum’s Neighborhood Discount Program for members. Current JANM members may present their membership card at ediBOL to receive a free order of fried pickle chips or rice fritters with the purchase of any large BOL. My group tried the pickle chips, and they are very tasty! Read on for an interview in which Uyeda discusses her restaurant’s origins and philosophy, and her family’s connections to JANM.

JANM: What inspired you to open a restaurant?

Andrea Uyeda: My earliest memories revolve around cooking—waking up super early on weekend mornings to make animal-shaped pancakes with my dad; my grandmother teaching me how to cook, season, and cool sushi rice to the perfect, glossy taste and texture; looking forward to mochitsuki all year, then making and eating mochi all day long on New Year’s Day; and home-cooked Sunday dinners at my grandparents’ house in Boyle Heights.

Growing up, a bowl of Japanese rice was a part of every meal. The ediBOL menu stems from my favorite way of eating: out of a bowl filled with fresh ingredients, hand-crafted flavors, and various textures and temperatures. Every item on our menu is served in a bowl, symbolizing love, family, comfort—all that’s good in life, with a punch of bold flavors that make you say WOW!

Andrea Uyeda tends to her customers, who in this case happen to be her cousins, at ediBOL. Photo by @social.agenda.
Andrea Uyeda tends to her customers, who in this case happen to be
her cousins, at ediBOL. Photo by @social.agenda.

 

JANM: Please describe your restaurant’s philosophy.

AU: I love creating, learning, sharing, exploring, collaborating—life is about feeling and connecting. I’ve had so much fun coming up with the ediBOL menu, which is a creative mix of favorite foods, flavors, textures, and temperatures. Each dish has roots in a lifelong love of cooking, with more recent layers of experimentation—playing with various ingredients, flavors, and cooking techniques until we hit the magic combination.

In addition to designing the menu, I have also had a blast sourcing our lapis azul granite high-top tables, enamelware bowls, deep blue chairs, dark wood dining tables, barnyard lighting fixtures, stone bathroom tiles, and the 300-year-old reclaimed teak used for our teal kitchen wall. Cooking, design, and woodworking are all passions of mine, and ediBOL is truly a passion project.

We hope to be creating a very special place for the family of workers here, the family of regular diners, and the various farmers, artisans, vendors, and neighbors whose passionate creations are showcased at the restaurant. We have a very welcoming space with an outdoor patio, and my ultimate dream is for ediBOL to not only serve great food and drinks, but to also be a place where people can gather and share their passions, which could include coffee, rice, beer, art, acting, writing, fashion, music, and lots more!

ediBOL's delicious pork belly bowl. Photo by Carol Cheh.
ediBOL’s delicious pork belly bowl. Photo by Carol Cheh.

 

JANM: What is your professional background?

AU: At age 13, I got my first job making waffle cones and scooping ice cream. Every job since then has been in some aspect of the hospitality industry, whether it be in the kitchen, operations, catering, marketing, purchasing, accounting, technology, design, or development. While completing a thesis on Japanese American cultural identity at Princeton, I worked the graveyard shift and ran a bakery/café owned by the mayor of Princeton. Sourcing the highest quality ingredients and coming up with seasonal scones and muffins each morning were always highlights of the day!

After graduation, I moved to Santa Monica and got a job as a host at Border Grill. Over the years, I steadily took on more responsibility as I worked my way up to Sales and Special Events Manager, General Manager, Director of Operations, Chief Operating Officer, and eventually, Co-Owner. I didn’t have a career plan or goal—I just knew that I always loved the energy of cooking on the line and being on the dining room floor.

ediBOL's miso peanut ramen. Photo by Kajsa Alger.
ediBOL’s miso peanut ramen. Photo by Kajsa Alger.

 

JANM: Tell us about your connections to JANM.

AU: My father, Robert Uyeda, was the architect for JANM’s first public space, located in what is now called the Historic Building. He was super excited to be involved in such a history-making venture. Somehow he got a bunch of young kids (my cousins, brother, and me) also excited to spend our summer vacations volunteering in the first JANM office, located in a loft space on Third Street. My aunt would drop us off and we’d spend the day licking stamps and sealing envelopes. When we got older, we graduated to transcribing interviews with camp survivors. I learned so much about our community’s history and feel so fortunate to have been a part of the early, formative years of JANM. It has been amazing to see so many of JANM’s ideas and dreams come to life.

ediBOL is located at 300 S. Santa Fe Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. Visit edibol.com to peruse their menu, make reservations, or place an online order.

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