Food Travel America / LAX / Layover

(Forced) Layover in LAX

I realized that I have so many posts pending, that I’m constantly feel overwhelmed and behind. Rather than trying to post in chronological order, I have decided to post on what I’m inspired to write about in the moment. So even though I was in LA a few weeks ago and have a mountain of posts to catch up on, I’m writing about my latest adventure in LAX. Mechanical issues… 1.5hr delay… Those 2 phrases were enough to send me sideways on my travel day to Oaxaca. I was booked on a milk run to Oaxaca, Mexico, because it’s not an easy  place to get to. YVR-LAX-IAH-OAX was my intended route.I had 1.5 hours layover between each, which is more than enough time even with slight delays. But then I heard the words, “panel reset” followed by, “heading back to the terminal” and even before I’d ever left the ground in YVR and I knew I my plans were about to change. I won’t go through the ordeal I had trying to confirm a way to Oaxaca, but let’s just say I ended up being stranded in LA for the day, so in true Vacation Sus form, I was going to make the most of it. Knowing the city so well has its advantages and within a short period of time, I found myself in a rental car driving north up the I405 to a lunch stop I wanted to go to a few weeks ago but never had a chance to try. I’d first heard about Tsujita from Chef Michael Carmichael at Ma Peche in July. He’d mentioned it as one of his memorable meals in the past year. I was somewhat skeptical after I’d asked him if he’d ever been to Japan before(he hadn’t), although he did get some credit for working for David Chang, known to many for his ramen. Could I trust the palate of a chef who’d never had the “real thing”? But then Ben told me he’d also been before, and concurred it was indeed good. 2 recommendations and an Eater endorsement, meant that it was on my list. A friend from LA mentioned that if I was going to Tsujita, that I needed to have the tsukemen and that while I was there, there were other places in Little Osaka worth checking out as well. I arrived at Tsujita at 2:31 and although their website says they’re open until 3pm, the closed sign was already up. Luckily, their Annex across the street was still open. I’m not a huge tsukemen expert but this was very good. I thought the broth was a tad garlicky, but richly flavoured. Tsukemen noodles are thicker than regular ramen noodles and these seemed even thicker than that. But the noodles had the proper toothsome bite that properly soaked up the intense broth. All in all, I was happy with this stop, although still curious to try the original Tsujita location to see how different their bowl is. On my way out, I remembered that the coffee shop came highly recommended so I stopped in for a cup.

A great pour-over coffee, although next time I’ll order something foamy as that’s what they’re known for.

And because I can be such a glutton, I had to stop in at Seoul Sausage to try out their fried balls. I was too full to enjoy more than a bite of each, but saved the rest to eat on the plane the next day.

Flaming Ball (l): Cheesy kim-chi fried rice with spicy pork served with DMZ, 
Lil’ Osaka Ball (r): Japanese curry rice ball with beef and potatoes served with shoga siracha mayo

Seriously stuffed by this point, I needed a walk. I knew exactly where my destination would be. Even though I’m in LA every year, it’s been years since I’ve gone to Santa Monica. I thought a walk along the beach as sunset was approaching would be the perfect way to spend a late afternoon. IMG_8209 IMG_8271 I wanted to make the most of my forced layover and I knew that meant I had to try somewhere new to eat for dinner. I tried my best to find something convenient to where I was but nothing was up to the standard of my impromptu adventure. My craving was quite simple by LA standards. I wanted something simply delicious and preferably vegetable focused since I knew I wouldn’t be getting a lot of those where I was going. At the last moment I remembered the hip Abbott Kinney strip in Venice after seeing it in a magazine a few weeks ago. A quick search later, I was excited to find 2 restaurants that fit my craving. It looked like Gjelina had more to offer me on the vegetable front, so I hopped in the car in search of a great meal. I sat at a large communal table and didn’t feel at all odd eating alone, surrounded by other groups. Well that was until the copious amount of food that I ordered hit the table and people around me started whispering about how much I was eating.

Tuscan kale salad, shaved fennel, radish, lemon, ricotta salata and breadcrumbs

Seared okra, black olive, tomato, pine nut, mint

Wood roasted cauliflower, garlic, chili and vinegar

Guanciale, freen olive, fresno chili and mozzarella pizza

Seriously stuffed again, with enough leftovers to hold me over for the following day of travel “no matter what happens”, I was happy that I made the most of a bad situation. Vacation Sus prevails over bad travel karma. Tsujita Annex: 2050 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles Gjelina: 1429 Abbott Kinney Blvd, Venice

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