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New Muji in Hollywood has some great finds for the cook, kitchen

For the last few years, every trip to New York, however short, I've managed to fit in a trip to Muji, a  Japanese design store in lower Manhattan. I have to replace the aluminum mechanical pens I seem to lose right and left, stock up on the small inexpensive notebooks that slip into a pocket -- and rustle around in the beauty section for Muji's plastic travel bottles for shampoo and sundries.

I check its kitchen section too for new products. Once, it was a diminutive stainless steel potato masher that I use for making guacamole, another time a small white-glazed donabe for two. I've carried back sturdy chopsticks, saucepans and kitchen tools from the Manhattan store.

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No more. A Muji store, even bigger than the Manhattan one, just opened in Hollywood.

On a visit the other day to check it out, instead of heading straight for the stationery section, I was waylaid by Muji Found, a section of items not manufactured by Muji, but "found." That would include nifty white metal toolboxes in several sizes, perfect for stashing silverware or kitchen tools, a fragrant cedar wood container bound in copper for rice  and intricate, handmade straw trivets and coasters.

In the cookware and kitchen section, which covers two walls floor to ceiling, I found two-handled stainless steel pots with aluminum cores and more of those small potato mashers. I picked up some red-handled chopsticks and a green-glazed, lidded curry bowl. And coveted a great deal more, such as the smooth wooden rice bowls and simple wooden trays.

I also sought out the nifty dusting system with telescoping handle and interchangeable micro-fiber dusting cloths I'd seen in the New York store.  The pieces are simple and good-looking, and it's something I haven't been able to find anywhere else.

The white-glazed donabe? Not here. Or at least not yet. Since the store is relatively new, the staff said the stock would be changing and expanding.

Because I know those little notebooks will always be in stock, for the first time I restrained myself and didn't leave with half a dozen lined and plain. Just with a few more mechanical pencils.

I swear I won't lose them this time.

Muji, 7021 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 785-2013.

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