Born in Iowa and raised in Hawaii, actress Kiersten Warren ("Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," "13 Going on 30," "Desperate Housewives," and "Bunheads") spent her youth traveling the world, singing in Baptist churches with her parents. After modeling in Japan for the likes of Fuji Film, Warren returned to the United States to launch her acting career. Her first role was on "Magnum P.I." Warren resides in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter and has recently completed work on the horror film, "The Invisible Mother." Fans may communicate with her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/kierstenwarren).
Q. What's the best part of living in California?
A. If you look out any of my windows, you'd swear we live in a treehouse. It's so lush and green. There are major studios by day just down the hill and coyotes caterwauling by night. The smarter of the small pets know to come indoors. My Maltese is not one of these smarter dogs and you should pray for his continued safety. He will stand there barking back his resistance into the night. Mind you, in a fighting scenario with a Los Angeles coyote, young Harlan would have all the efficacy of a furry sock.
Q. What city is your home away from home?
A. Honolulu is where I grew up and I'll always feel more Hawaiian than anything. Weird, I know. If someone told you to go ask that Hawaiian girl something, you'd never walk up to me But the lau lau and the kaukau at the luau is deep in my soul. Every so often, I YouTube "Kanaka Wai Wai" just to have a nostalgic cry. Lanikai is my favorite picnicking beach and Waimea is my favorite swimming beach. And walking on the beach is the best exfoliator for your feet that one can have.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?
A. I went into Ciudad Juarez (Mexico) with my family and I was so jazzed for that trip. I was just 10 and I had a huge crush on a Marine of Mexican descent named Peter Rodriguez, who went to our church. He could do a string of back handsprings after church in the front yard and what's not to love about that? Anyway, I figured we were going to visit Peter's homeland and I built it up to be something the border town just couldn't deliver. It was hot and I truly wasn't ready for the shock of naked child beggars. I worked myself into a First World hothouse flower frenzy, and threw up my morning cereal all over myself, so that I smelled like vomit the rest of the day. Not a good trip. I think I was silent for so long my parents started to worry. Possibly my first dream dashed. Or second. Peter didn't happen. And neither did Juarez. I learned on that trip that life is just tougher than most people think, and I'm heaps smarter for it, thank you very much.
Q. If you've ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?
A. We've gone to Winter Park, Colorado, for the past four years or so, so I guess it's becoming the ritual. The snow is gorgeous and that waffle place is everything. There's an ice rink out front and the snowmobiling is the closest you'll get to being in a James Bond film. Just don't get the bossy, bad attitude guide because that happened one year.
Q. What city stands out in your memory?
A. Tokyo is tops, because I made money there as a teenager back when the gaijin face was all the rage in their magazines. I worked for Kanebo Cosmetics, Nissan, Mister Donut and became a regular in their popular teen fashion magazine called Olive. I grew up the kid of Baptist missionaries in Hawaii, so Tokyo was my Rumspringa, of sorts. I went to Japan four years in a row for three months at a time. Its culture imprinted on me with a hangover fondness now for anything kitschy cute. I loved the way the women spoke like kittens on helium. And the men spoke like angry cartoon dogs. And I can find the best shabu-shabu in any city anywhere by dead reckoning and that came from my time in Japan.
Q. What are your favorite restaurants?
A. There's a dim sum dive in Honolulu that I love. It's called Royal Kitchen, and if I haven't gone within the first hour of landing on that island, then I'm late and on my way there. I get the baked cha siu bao and pork hash. The Four Seasons has a bar/restaurant in Budapest that looks out over the Chain Bridge. I had a delightful drink named after an actress who lived in the hotel. It seemed appropriate. In town, I love to go to Ca Del Sole (http://cadelsole.com/) for great Italian, then to El Floridita (http://www.elfloridita.com/) for Cuban and salsa dancing. Once a week we're at Katsuya (https://katsuyarestaurant.com/). And we love Nobu (http://www.noburestaurants.com/).
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)(c) 2017 DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.