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'Inexpensive Hawaii' can be found in Belize

Kenneth Choi has two high-profile films in the hopper. He portrays Jim Morita, one of the Howling Commandos in the action film "Captain America: The First Avenger." He also has finished shooting the remake of "Red Dawn." A resident of Los Angeles, the 39-year-old actor talks about some of his favorite places and explains why he wants to revisit a destination that conjures up bad memories.

Q: What is your favorite vacation destination?

A: I traveled to Belize last year and had an amazing vacation. I divided my time between two cities, Placencia and San Pedro. Belize has a tropical climate, and is quite affordable and is developing a reputation as an inexpensive Hawaii. If you want to hide away someplace that is extremely low-key, Placencia is perfect. San Pedro is more touristy and modernized.

Q: Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A: Portland is the perfect weekend getaway. I studied acting in Portland and lived there for five years. It's a small city with so much to do. There's beautiful scenery, a great bar scene and so many fabulous restaurants. Andina (andina, Beast ( and Paley's Place ( are some favorite eateries. If you visit, check out Washington Park and its Rose Garden and Japanese Garden. Hit Powell's bookstore. And you must get a Spanish Coffee at Huber's (

Q: What are your favorite hotels?

A: I've worked in Vancouver (British Columbia) on a couple of television shows and films. I always stay at the Sutton Place Hotel (, where most out-of-town actors stay. In Portland, I like to stay at the Hotel Monaco (, which is a Kimpton Hotel.

Q: What are your five favorite cities?

A: I was living in London for four months last year while shooting "Captain America." I love that city. I spent a week in Paris with a great friend who is French and speaks English — thank goodness — and I fell in love with the City of Light, as most people do. Chicago is my hometown and will always have a special place in my heart. Portland is definitely in my top five. Gotta include Vegas!

Q: What are your favorite restaurants?

A. A.O.C. Wine Bar and Restaurant ( in Los Angeles has a menu of delicious small dishes and a great wine list. Leila's Restaurant ( in Oak Park, Calif., is about 30 minutes away from Hollywood. Zagat restaurant guide awarded Leila's "Most worth the drive." Now I know why.

Q: Where would you like to go that you have never been?

A: I'd like to visit my friend and his family who live in Australia. That trip is long overdue. I have friends from Spain who have invited me at least five times. It's ridiculous that I have not gone. A friend of mine co-owns Mango African Safaris out of Portland; that's definitely on my list.

Q: When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A: Earplugs, an eye pillow and a hat.

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