Yuko Watanabe had to learn a lot of plant names. She lists them with as much confidence as she does her extensive soup menu. Calathea, pothos, Swedish ivy, song of India.
For over a decade, her Yuko Kitchen has fed Los Angeles Japanese comfort food — something like your friend's mom might cook for you after the school, Watanabe says. But this pandemic spring, when streets emptied and her phones grew quiet, a mini-jungle took over the chairs and tables, her cafes pivoting to sell nourishment both for the body and the soul.