Food Photography Journal: V DTLA

by Alyssa P

Located near the Nomad Hotel on W. 7th street in downtown LA, V is an all-day restaurant specializing in coffee, sourdough pizzas and cocktails.

When you first step into V, the decor is like nothing else in LA. Once a former jewelry shop, V combines all the grandeur of the 1920s (see: the sloping high ceilings, intricate tile floors and marble finishes) with the velvet flare of a Scandinavian social club. Designed by Christian Lagerlöf and Benjamin Calleja, two Swedish designers from Livit (the largest restaurant design company in the world), V is part restaurant, part speak-easy and completely committed to elevating all aspects of the restaurant experience.

When we arrived on Friday morning, customers were scattered across V’s two floors, drinking coffee, engaged in meetings and checking emails. However, as the sun sets, this chic coffee house morphs into a crowded and vibrant social space, full of intimate nooks for private parties and plenty of plush seating, all centered around their famous jade and marble bar. If you’re looking for something a little cozier, make sure to ask about their backroom. Once a jewelry vault, this little space maintains its dense industrial doors while also boasting a wall of velvet booths and seductive red lighting. If you want a place that shows up great on your Instagram (or TikTok? is that a thing?), then look no further.

Although we were enamored with the decor, of course, we also have to talk about the food. We tried two starters (the Rabbit and the Goat and Tuna Ponzu), two of their pizzas (the Rosemary Mushroom and Honey Buzz), a salad (the Asian Portobello) and, to finish it off, three cocktails (the Brock & Co, Smoking Pot and Valley Girl). Let us preface with the fact that everything was delicious: V’s food quality is absolutely in line with their decor. However, even so, there were a few shining stars. We were especially fond of the the Asian Portobello salad (everything’s better with kimchi) and the Rosemary Mushroom pizza (which we got on cauliflower crust). Since I’m a vegetarian and Emma’s pescatarian, we’re always on the hunt for restaurants that serve both an omnivorous and herbivorous crowd equally. V’s now certainly on that list. Since we weren’t driving, we also had three of their most popular cocktails. Our favorite was the Smoking Pot because, besides that fact that it looks gorgeous in-person and on film, the combination of grapefruit, cucumber and mint makes for a super refreshing drink.

As their name implies, V may soon be coming to other major American cities. With a sister restaurant in Sweden already, we at Toasted Touch can’t want for other cities to get to experience the rare dining affair that is V.

V DTLA’s information:

Business Hours: Mon-Thurs 10am-11pm Friday/Saturday Sun: 10am-11pm

Address: 515 West, 7th Street, 90014

Visit their website and Instagram: @vdtla

Food Photography Journal: Dingle Berries

by Anna Lai

Located in an inconspicuous plaza right inbetween Rosemead and El Monte, Dingle Berries is the quirky, fun, and creative coffee and tea shop every boba fan needs to visit at least once in their lifetime.

Dingle Berries, Rosemead

Dingle Berries is a family-run business that focuses on the community: it’s what sets them apart from the thousands of other competitors in the San Gabriel Valley, and it shows. The moment you walk into the shop, you’re welcomed by the kindest employees who make you feel right at home. Every customer that walks into the store was happy to be there. It wasn’t just another boba run; Dingle Berries seems to have become a part of daily life for the community around them. It’s a place to chat, to catch up, and to grab their favorite drinks for the whole family.

The drinks are fresh and carefully crafted. Each and everyone of them have been incoporated with the local and international characteristics that reflect the multiethnic community of Rosemead and the San Gabriel Valley. There’s the Panatcha (my personal favorite) which combines Pandan extract with matcha. Rosemead takes the city’s namesake and incorporates rose with green tea, while WHOA-chata combines into a fun horchata and traditional milk tea mix.

Founder, John-Mark Reyes, says that he hopes to expand in the future, but for now, he’s looking for more organic growth. He’s focusing on the local area while working with other young restaurant and cafe owners in Los Angeles. It may take time, but Dingle Berries’ strong branding and commitment to its community will surely help the shop make its mark in the boba tea market.

The Toasted Touch team left Dingle Berries with our tummies full of delicious drinks and many new insights on community businesses and Instagram outreach thanks to the the cafe’s knowledgeable and welcoming owner and founder.

Do check out this place if you’re ever in the area. It’s well worth it!

Dingle Berries Information:

Business hours: Mon-Thu 11AM-10AM | Fri-Sat 11AM-11PM | Sun 11AM-8PM

Address: 9711 Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770

Visit Dingle Berries’ Instagram: @dingleberriescoffeeandtea

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Food Photography Journal: Neighborhood Coffee Shop

by Emma Zhang

When the warm sunshine pours in through Neighborhood’s French windows, and gently shines upon their big wooden table and dusty pink walls, you know it’s time for a good cup of coffee.

Neighborhood Coffee Shop is located on La Brea Ave in Los Angeles. It serves vegan ice cream, after-dinner drinks, light food, and, of course, a selection of deliciously made coffee.

The moment we stepped into the shop, we knew we would enjoy our shoot here. We loved the relaxed and balmy vibe across the space. It was so picturesque that we started to wonder whether Neighborhood really needed our food photography services.

Part of our shooting was done in their outdoor area, where food was beautifully decorated with shadow and light.


With their beautiful drinks and space, anyone can effortlessly create their own Food Photography Journal at Neighborhood. We spent such a great time shooting and talking with the crew at Neighborhood. The memory of that afternoon stays like a slow-motion clip among all the hustles of our life.

Neighborhood information:

Address: 133 S. La Brea Ave. Los Angeles CA 90036

Business Hours: Mon-Fri: 7am-6pm | Sat & Sun: 7am-7pm

Visit Neighborhood’s Instagram: @neighborhood

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Food Photography Journal: Labobatory

by Anna Lai

What do you get when you combine a laboratory with boba? Well, you get all sorts of crazy but delicious drinks like 52 Shades of Red, Bobatella, NaCaramel, and much more.

Labobatory is a trendy boba (or bubble for our NorCal friends) tea shop located in the San Gabriel Valley. In an area saturated with countless other boba tea shops, Labobatory stands out with its unabashed ability to combine more traditional tea bases with ingredients people usually wouldn’t imagine with boba (Nutella? Charcoal? Cookie butter?).

With all the fun flavors and creative concoctions, this place was a must go for our team of boba addicts! It also helped that the owner is a fellow USC Trojan. Fight on!

Labobatory Information:

Address: 819 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

Business Hours: Mon-Thu 12PM-10PM | Fri-Sat 12PM-11:30PM | Sun 11AM-10PM

Visit Labobatory’s Instagram: @labobatory

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Food Photography Journal: Steep LA

Steep LA, cutest teahouse ever and also Toasted Touch’s first ever food photography client. We first spotted this cute LA Chinatown teahouse while browsing online, and we couldn’t wait to shoot there.

By Anna Lai

Steep LA’s bright and homey interior is combined with delicate tea and delicious food. The teahouse is located in Chinatown’s Mandarin Plaza and is part of a growing number of small restaurants and cafes setting up shop in the historic quarter. The teahouse serves up both traditional (you can even do a tea ceremony!) and new mixes of tea-based concoctions and also sells really cute clay teapots and hip attire courtesy of clothing brand Apt 135. The place is great for groups with a large courtyard outside to enjoy snacks, or if you’re a single-for-life like me who just wants to relax and enjoy a cup of tea.

Browsing the cafe’s collection of teapots really brought me back to my parents’ hometown of Canton, an unassuming city in southern China. No one really knows about this place outside of Asia (and even within Asia), but it’s the third largest city in China and has been a burgeoning trade city for over a thousand years. It’s where dimsum came from, where the first of maritime traders made contact with China, where the first Chinese Americans came from, and where modern China found its roots. Today, it’s known for its fresh food and confusing mix of old and new. It’s not as new and technological as Shenzhen, not as glamorous as Shanghai, nor as grand as Beijing, but Canton holds its own as a city that has continuously retained the old and brought in the new for China. Within the old alleyways of Xiguan and Dongshan, the two main historical quarters of Canton (and a place of love stories and legends), cafes and teahouses much like Steep LA have also popped up in recent years. They’ve brought new life to these delicate dwellings that had been falling into disrepair just a decade past. Young and old alike now sit under the eaves of the long arcades and in small courtyards, enjoying a time past with a cup of tea served from a tiny clay pot.

In a similar manner as the cafes and teahouses of Canton, Steep LA brings to Chinatown a legacy of Chinese and American history and culture while integrating a touch of new. Definitely check this place out if you’re ever in the area or if you’re looking for somewhere that has both awesome food and drink!

Steep LA Information:

Address: 970 N Broadway Suite 112, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Business Hours: Tue-Sat 11AM-7PM | Sun-Mon CLOSED

Visit Steep LA’s Instagram

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