Skip to Content

Hometown Heroes East Los Musubi Featured on HBO and Jimmy Kimmel In Same Week

2:08 PM PST on February 1, 2022

Doreen Nakama and Adam Martinez have been quietly selling musubi in the streets of L.A. the way that Nakama’s Japanese-Hawaiian grandfather taught her for seven years now under East Los Musubi. Throughout the years, the couple has added their own spin to the time-honored dish born out of World War II rations in Hawaii, like adding crushed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to musubi and offering katsu and tofu versions as well.  

Last week they made their national TV debut by being featured on Lisa Ling’s new food culture show on HBO Max, Take Out. And last night, their barrio-rooted musubi was enjoyed by Jimmy Kimmel and Guillermo as Kimmer interviewed Ling about her new show. 

Of all the dishes Ling featured in her series, she chose East Los Musubi to showcase, proudly telling Kimmel and Guillermo about Nakama’s backstory and the history of Boyle Heights. “So this is Mexican, Japanese, and stoner food?” Kimmel responded, jokingly, before taking a big bite of the musubi and proclaiming that it was tasty. The moment, although short, was a significant moment in representation for L.A.’s real eastside. It reflected the vast foodways of the AAPI, Mexican, and mixed family communities of the working-class neighborhood that so many try to homogenize constantly. 

“We are honored every day with getting to represent the history of the city where my Japanese family found a community to live in after WW2,” Nakama posted on her personal Instagram, where she also sells highly decorated cakes to order. Her grandfather served in the famous 442nd Regiment and ironically enough, Ling's team found out about East Los Musubi after a volunteer organization posted about Nakama and Martinez feeding volunteers cleaning up the gravesites of the 442nd Japanese Soldiers at Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights.

“These segments are dedicated to our friends and family raising proud mixed families; we see you. We are here to represent those who never felt enough of one culture or race being mixed,” Adam Martinez tells L.A TACO. 

East Los Musubi’s next pop-up is at Shop Mi Vida in Highland Park on February 20th. Check out the rest of their schedule here

Already a user?Log in

Thanks for reading!

Register to continue

Become a Member

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from L.A. TACO

Spot Check: Colombian Desgranados In Echo Park, Mexican Wine Festival At Mírate, and Perverted Waffles in DTLA

Plus, a party highlighting pan-African cuisine, a new Taiwanese cookbook by an awarded local from the San Gabriel Valley, and a Little Saigon food festival that starts tonight! Welcome back to Spot Check!

September 22, 2023

This 24-Year-Old Latina Mortician Beautifies the Dead and Influences the Living

Growing up in Arleta with a first-generation family from El Salvador, Berrios admits that her family only embraced her career choice two years ago, after she started to win awards like “Young Funeral Director of the Year.” The 24-year-old works as the licenced funeral director and embalmer at Hollywood Forever cemetery. As a young person born in peak Generation Z, she's documented her deathcare journey on TikTok and has accrued more than 43K followers on the platform. 

September 21, 2023

Meet ‘Carnitas Rogelio,’ The Family-Run Stand With The Best Michoacán-Style Carnitas O.C. Has to Offer

Michoacán-raised Rogelio Gonzalez slices the cuerito (the pig skin) in a checkered pattern to ensure a light crunch in each bite and utilizes every part of the pig, from the feet to the liver and intestines, which he binds together in a braid. 

September 20, 2023

‘The Office’ Star Rainn Wilson Brought Jerk Chicken Tacos to the Picket Lines Outside of Paramount Studios

In three hours, D's Tipsy Tacos and her team passed out “roughly 100 plates” of tacos, burritos, rice, beans, nachos, and quesadillas to striking screenwriters and actors.

September 19, 2023

Five Common Plants to Avoid When Creating Your Green Spaces in L.A.

Almost every time I visit a property with landscaping issues, the problem starts with bad design: the wrong plants in the wrong place. Here's advice from a third-generation L.A. landscaper and noted taco expert.

September 19, 2023
See all posts