When Phil "Doomie" Van Overeem filled out an application for a recent trade show, he listed his job title as "problem solver." Van Overeem is the owner and executive chef of Doomie's Home Cookin', a Hollywood restaurant that specializes in vegetarian and vegan comfort food. He does everything from cooking to the dishes, from taking care of repairs to managing the staff. "I literally live at the restaurant," says Van Overeem. He's not kidding either. He lives upstairs from Doomie's.
Food is a big deal for Van Overeem, even when he's not working. He spends much of his downtime visiting grocery stores and other restaurants. When he's not scouring aisles for tasty, unusual treats, you might find him playing music. Currently, Van Overeem promotes the monthly band/DJ party Violaine at Roberto's in Chinatown and has four bands/solo music projects (Red Lily, Of Despair, My Bandaged Heart and The Deathblossoms) in the works. He also heads out to industrial dance club Das Bunker every Friday to serve up tacos for the crowd. We caught up Van Overeem to find out where he eats once he's out of the kitchen and where he spends his nights on the town.
What do you like to do on your days off?
I like to drive through Mulholland. I like to drive over the mountain pass -- Laurel Canyon, Coldwater Canyon -- get lost in the hills. I like Coldwater Canyon and Mulholland but it's really about exploring on the roads that I don't know. I like to get lost and discover new things. You could look them up but it's kinda fun when you stumble onto them. There are hiking trails off of Mulholland, crazy mansions in Beverly Hills, hidden lakes and overlooks, even a secret place called Oz.
I like to go eat at different restaurants all the time late at night. A lot of times, I don't get to eat until two in the morning. I end up exploring K-Town, looking for different places. That's always fun. Eating is kind of what I do. That is my fun. Just going out to eat in restaurants is my big thing.
Where do you like to go to eat?
Usually, I eat Thai food three or four nights a week. If I have time for an adventure, I'll usually cruise through K-Town. There are a lot of new and different things there. My favorite fun thing to do is going to supermarkets of other cultures, so going to an Asian supermarket, like Southeast Asian supermarket or a Korean supermarket or a Japanese supermarket. They're all totally different. It's completely different products. They have different produce. They have different fast food stuff. It's like going on a trip to a different country, learning about another culture through what they're buying and what they're eating. Mexican markets. South American markets. Middle Eastern markets. Looking at the products and learning.
What are some of your favorite markets?
Sometimes, I'll venture out to the Alhambra/Monterey Park area. It's called Shun Fat. It's Chinese and Southeast Asian. There's a Korean one called H.K. -- something like that -- over on Western in K-Town. There's the Japanese one in Little Tokyo. There's one in Thailand Plaza that I'll go to for Thai stuff. We do a lot of shopping at Jon's Markets. They have a whole international aisle. They have a lot of Eastern European stuff and Armenian and Russian. Things like that. Those are the things I like to go to. You can find great things and great deals. It's kind of nice when you have a population that's large enough to sustain a market. You get stuff that's a lot more authentic as far as what they're bringing in because they have the customers to buy it. You get to see these things being imported in that you're not going to find anywhere else. That's what's exciting, finding those neighborhood pockets of communities in L.A. It's something that you don't find in a lot of other cities. Maybe in New York will have their pockets. Having traveled around a lot, it's one of the unique things about L.A., that you have this diversity.
When you're heading into K-Town at night, where do you stop to eat?
There's a place. I don't know what the name of it is. There's a picture of a goat. They're open 24 hours. [Note: Bulrocho Korean Restaurant] Have you ever been to Pipers on Western? People should support Pipers more. It's 24 hours. It's like an American diner, but it has some Korean stuff because it's in K-town. It's been there for a long time. It's a good alternative for after a club, instead of going to Denny's. I like to go to DuPar's at night. That's my other secret place to go at night, when you want to avoid the mess of Canter's, the post-club/post-bar drunks and all that. DuPar's is quiet. There's maybe one other table in there. [Canter's] is fun sometimes when you want to deal with the party aspect, but when you kind of want to sit down somewhere quiet, it's nice to go to DuPar's or Pipers.
Do you go to farmers markets often?
Not really. There's a farmers market right here. On Sunday, there's the Hollywood Farmers' Market. I had the restaurant for two years before I went there. It's open on Sunday in the morning. I usually end up staying up until 5 or 6 in the morning, so waking up at 7 or 8 for the farmers market doesn't happen ever. By the time I do roll out of bed, I have to be at work, so I don't have time to go to the market. This last Valentine's Day, we did a special menu. I went there three or four times, over three or four weeks. I was looking for something specific and they had it, which was really cool. I would go more often if I could wake up.
Are there any bars you hit up after work?
I don't drink so I don't really go to bars. I go to clubs occasionally, goth clubs and stuff like that. There is a really nice bar that's right around the corner from me. Sassafras. The whole interior motif is done like '20s and '30s New Orleans style. It looks like you're in New Orleans in the past. It's large inside.
Do you go to concerts much?
I'm weird with music now. I don't chase after it as much as I used to. After I started doing music more, things changed. I know Medicine is playing in August and I definitely want to go that. I think they're playing at the Echo. I think it's August 11. I saw them back in the day, back in the '90s, several times, by themselves and opening for other acts. They were always amazing. I always thought they were a better noise band than My Bloody Valentine.
Since you are a musician, do you spend much time looking for gear?
If I need gear, I'll try my luck at the pawn shops and hope they have something like that. They're kind of fun to go through and see what they have. If I need something really specific, I'll go to Guitar Center or Sam Ash, something like that. I'm pretty set on my gear right now. I've got my sound down, provided I don't break anything, knock on wood. I've got a dozen guitars and I only play one. That's how it goes.
What are your favorite venues for seeing bands?
It depends on the size of the band, of course. I have a personal affinity for the El Rey. I've seen a lot of great shows there. I actually DJed when The Cranes played there. The last time I was there, it was Brendan Perry [Dead Can Dance] and Robin Guthrie [Cocteau Twins]. That was, of course, amazing. I think it's nice. The stage is high. It's a long, straight shot from anywhere you're standing in the room. I like small stuff. They do shows at The Echo a lot where they get good smaller acts in there. If you're looking for being close, that's a good place to go. Those are good venues, The Echo and Echoplex. I should also mention Complex. They do a really good job with the concerts there.
Are there any local bands you recommend?
I'm less on top of it than I was before. One of my local favorites that I still want to back are The Meeting Places. They're actually on our Pandora shuffle for the restaurant, so hopefully I'm making them 1/5 of a penny every time their songs play.
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