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February 19, 2024

Good Life - Pat Liu of Liu's Cafe

The first thing you'll notice about Pat Liu of Liu's Cafe is his smile. Wide and free, it's the kind of expression that lights up a room like an uncontrollable explosion of good energy the moment he makes eye contact. Often the first thing you see when pushing open the glass doors at the sun-drenched Koreatown eatery, it's a fitting introduction to a space that's meant to convey the intimate feelings of some of our most nostalgic memories with food. "Liu’s Cafe is a nod to our experiences eating at comfy Chinese mom-and-pop restaurants, affordable street stalls, and crowded night markets across Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Shanghai." And indeed it is, from the interior design which blends the charm of mid-century American roadside diners with elements of traditional Chinese decor that has the feel of a third-wave Taiwanese eatery to the thoughtful pricing, nimble service, and simple menu. And the fare—it is in a word: delicious. If you love tasty comfort food, be it an egg tart or a savory bowl of Chiayi chicken rice, Liu's delivers its renditions with personal flair that triggers ratatouille flashbacks of eagerly consuming personally cherished dishes at a sweltering night market. What Pat and his partners Alex Park, John Kim, and Eddie Lee have created with chef Lareine Ko and pastry chef Isabell Manibusan—more than triumphant—strikes at the heart. And that's perhaps the greatest triumph of all.

Pat actually went to the same middle school as Goodfight co-founder Christina Chou, before she (in his words) "went to the genius high school and left the rest of us behind...." (haha) For us, we're just happy to see more good people introducing food that has deeply personal significance to more people in our city. And in the spirit of beloved Jonathan Whitener and the words of his restaurant partner Lien Ta, "keep going to [these] restaurants. All the small independently-owned ones that are feeling challenged to compete with...everything. This business is hard, but it is fueled by passion, stress, and care...." Good Life continues:

Yenny Hsieh - What is something that makes you feel authentically yourself?

Sharing laughs over food and drinks with 3-4 of my closest friends - talking about absolutely nothing.
What does food mean to you and why did you get involved in the food industry?

Food to me is all about being comfortable and connecting. Many of my fondest memories revolve around food, from learning how to use a wok and basic knife skills from my mom as a kid, to cooking Sunday night dinners with close friends over cheap bottles of wine.

Getting involved in hospitality was something that started as a joke, that quickly snowballed into something real. My partner, Alex Park, who had recently quit his job as an investment banker, was visiting LA during the height of the pandemic. Enjoying a few beers sitting outside Chapman plaza, we noticed a "for lease" sign plastered over a beautiful glass façade - a storefront we mused had endless potential. Just for kicks, Alex called that number to see what they were offering - and the rest is history. :)
Favorite city to holiday in and why?

Taipei always has a soft place in my heart - even as an American born, third culture kid, it’s a place where the sights, smells, and eats always feel familiar and comfortable, while still being different from daily life.
Where do you see Liu's Cafe in five years and what's your hope in creating your space?

We hope that Liu's Café is a staple restaurant in not just our neighborhood of Koreatown, but also a destination for locals across LA. We feel that Chinese/Taiwanese/Hong Kong style food has been underrepresented, and hope that we can bring these flavors to both those that grew up with them, as well as to a wider audience that may not be familiar with them!
Name your favorite three dishes people might not know unless someone introduced them to it?

Braised Pork Trotters (豬腳) is one of my absolute favorite dishes - super aromatic, the meat and rich collagen become super tender, without tasting greasy. Anytime my mom and grandma made this, I would demolish whole rice bowls with the meat and sauce.

Steamed Pork Belly With Rice Powder (Fen Zheng Rou 粉蒸肉) was always a Chinese New Year's special, and I always loved the soft texture of the meat combined with the spiced flavor of the rice flour, along with the sweetness of the sweet potatoes it sat on top of.

Five Spice Bean curd with shredded pork (香干肉絲) - another dish my mom would make (definitely a pattern here) that we would also always order at restaurants. The bean curd (香乾 xiang gan) or 豆乾 (dou gan) is an extra-firm tofu that comes smoked or flavored with soy sauce and spices before being packaged and sold. The firm texture allows it to be tossed without falling apart, and thus really well complements veggies and other meats in a stir fry. The saucy, salty, spicy components of this dish made it another rice guzzler for me.
Best feedback you can get from a customer?

"Delicious comfort food, amazing service, at an affordable price. I will eat and order from here at least once a week!"

What's your question for the next person?

You have a button. When you press it, it does something - What does yours do?


Photographer: Calvin Nguyen

First Image: Pat wears the Lunar Shop Tee

Second Image: Pat wears the Freestyle Shirt, Lunar Shop Tee, and Florider Trouser Brown. Alex wears the Rappeler Hoodie and Gilman Denim Pant. Eddie wears Milky Way Shirt and Florider Denim.

Second to last Image: Pat wears the Alden Blazer, Freestyle Shirt, Lunar Shop Tee, and Florider Trouser Brown


Goodfight - Good Life - Pat Liu of Liu's Cafe

Goodfight - Good Life - Pat Liu of Liu's Cafe

Goodfight - Good Life - Pat Liu of Liu's Cafe

Goodfight - Good Life - Pat Liu of Liu's Cafe

Goodfight - Good Life - Pat Liu of Liu's Cafe

Goodfight - Good Life - Pat Liu of Liu's Cafe

Goodfight - Good Life - Pat Liu of Liu's Cafe

Goodfight - Good Life - Pat Liu of Liu's Cafe

Goodfight - Good Life - Pat Liu of Liu's Cafe


"Good Life" is an ongoing conversation with special people in our community. We've always understood that we are the sum of the people around us, and you can find out more about Goodfight by learning more about THEM.

Each Good Life interview is ended with subjects leaving a question for the next person without knowing who they will be--this creates an unbroken line of communication between people who are mostly complete strangers, ironically unaware of how they are unwittingly connected through various relationships in our world.

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