LA (2017) = My Happy Place…

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The first Wednesday in November always marks the start of my annual extra long weekender in LA. It’s my time to relax, recharge, eat and imbibe.

Just coming off 3 weeks in South East Asia, this trip felt like it came quickly, and with little preparation. But my LA restaurant list is deep so I knew I’d have no problems filling my stomach for 4 days, with little research.

Wednesday lunch: A morning flight meant that my first meal would be lunch. I knew it was cheesy, but I couldn’t get the image of a pizza I’d seen on @infatuation_la’s instagram feed earlier in the week and knew that it was exactly what I was craving.

Spago La cocktail
The Tiffany Twisted cocktail with Rose Champagne, Aperol, St-Germain and lemon wasn’t what drew me in, but I was on vacation and wanted to celebrate.
Spago LA salmon pizza
This pizza with house cured smoked salmon, dill creme fraiche and topped with ikura from Spago was everything I wanted from my first bite in LA.

My first night in LA, happened to also be Game 7 of the World Series with the Dodgers up against the Astros. Plans I’d made to meet up with my friend Bryan were changed to accommodate watching the game, which was ok with me. We ended up at the Bludso’s on La Brea, (a totally different experience than what I’d had at the original in Compton many years ago). We nibbled on some ‘cue throughout the game, but no one was in a particularly jovial mood due to the game (and thus I didn’t take any photos).

After the game, we were close enough to Pinks that it was the logical option to fill my stomach. Funny enough, it seemed that Dodger fans must have been too depressed to eat, as it was the first time I’ve been to Pinks where there was no line up!

Pinks Dodger blue

Pinks chili cheese dog
Chili cheese dog, chili fries and a Dr Brown’s cherry soda, ’cause I “had to”.

Thursday Lunch: Outside of Japan, LA is the only place I’m willing to go for a blow out sushi meal, and after a night of eating poorly,  I was craving something clean for lunch.  Sushi is something that’s easy to do when you’re solo, so it’s become a natural thing for me to seek out while I’m in LA. I have quite a few sushi places I want to try on my list, but Sushi Tsujita was close and their lunch omakase looked amazing.

Sushi Tsujita lunch sushi omakase
Hadai (Japanese snapper) with yuzu, ika (squid), bluefin tuna, iwashi, chawanmushi (egg custard) with scallop and uni, buri (yellowtail), young red snapper with grated egg yolk, toro and ikura&uni.

Tsujita Sushi lived up to my expectations and I was happy, especially since I asked for “easy rice” so I could get through the whole experience without over-stuffing myself, (which is the problem with many of the multi-course extravaganza’s I’ve been having lately).

Thursday Dinner: An evening at The Comedy Store, meant an early easy dinner. Or so I thought. I originally chose Night + Market WeHo because I knew I’d get a good meal composed of 3 solid dishes there and it was walkable to the Comedy Store. What I didn’t account for were the extra’s my friend Bryan (who’d just started as the manager at Night + Market) would send out.

So much food but it was all so delicious. Nam kao tod, fried pig tail, pork toro, hidden treasures, an unknown curry and garlic green beans
If you’ve never been to the Comedy Store before, I highly recommend it!

Friday Lunch:

I was meeting my friend Mel for lunch and decided to let her choose the location. Mel is an indulgent food (and drink) lover like me, and I knew wherever she chose, we’d have a great time. After pouring over the just published Jonanthan Gold 101 Best Restaurants list for 2017, and much other deliberation, she chose Lukshon (#4).

Lukshon tea leaf salad
Tea leaf salad with cabbage, crispy chana dal, macrona almonds, peanuts and sesame.
Lukshon butterfish
Refreshing Hawaiian butterfish with lime cells, chile, herbs and coconut snow.
Lukshon sichuan dumplings
Sichuan dumplings with kurobuta pork, spicy vinaigrette and peanuts.
Lukshon lobster banh mi
Lobster banh mi with pig ear terrine and spicy green papaya slaw.
Lukshon spicy chicken pops
Not on the lunch menu but served at lunch, spicy chicken pops were as delicious as Mel promised they’d be!
Lukshon heirloom black rice
I was stuffed by the time this Heirloom black rice with Chinese sausage, onion, roasted garlic and egg hit the table, but the flavours melded together with oozing egg yolk was just too delicious to pass up.

So yes, Mel is as indulgent as I am, so it was no surprise our many course, many drink lunch was just that. We were too full to think about dessert, but lucky for me, Mel gave me a sweet parting gift from a bakery around the corner that she used to frequent when she lived in Culver City.

Dolce Isola Ivy cookie
Hands down, the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever had from Dolce Isola – The Ivy Bakery.

Friday dinner: Stuffed from lunch, I had no desire to put effort into dinner. I thought of ordering in, but knew a walk would do me good. I went for a wandering through Westwood Village and originally thought of hitting up KazuNori for handrolls, but the lineup was insane. Instead, I remembered a recommendation that Mel had made a favorite in Westwood, the House of Meatballs, and seeing as I could easily get a seat at the bar, I was in.

House of Meatball
Just Like Mama meatballs solo, topped with Pink Panther their creamy marinara sauce.

Saturday breakfast:

My list of LA “must tries” keeps growing, but despite that, I continue to have a few favorites I keep returning to. All 3 of my meals on Saturday were repeats, but I was fine with that because I’ve been thinking about each since my last visit.

Backyard bowl acai
Backyard Bowl‘s green bowl with açaí, banana, spinach, kale, lime, ginger, apple juice base, topped with granola, strawberry, blueberry, chia seed, honey. So much goodness to fuel my morning shopping jaunt. I wish I could get an acai bowl at home with this much goodness and at a price point that I don’t have to shake my head at.

Saturday lunch:

I come to the AOC Wine Bar every trip to LA. Lunch or dinner, I’m always happy, but I’d never done brunch before. I was excited to try the brunch menu for something different which turned out to be soul satisfying but not too heavy. I was being mindful because I had a big meal ahead of me.

AOC Wine Bar asparagus polenta
Grilled asparagus with polenta, other roasted vegetables and (not so) soft egg.

Saturday dinner:

It was Girl’s Night Out in LA and we made the most unlikely choice of Honey Pig for Korean barbecue. We knew it would be a meat-fest but didn’t care. K-town in LA is king for bbq and we queens were ready to overindulge.

Honey Pig korean bbq
Maybe I should mention Girls Night comprised of 2 women. Yes we over-indulged and I feel no shame in it.


Honey Pig pork

I love that the sprouts and kimchi are placed on the grill along with the meat.

Honey Pig rice
The secret at Honey Pig is to leave enough bits of kimchi and meats on the grill, so there’s lots of flavour to add to the rice at the end. 

Sunday morning:

With just a few hours  to spare after waking up before having to leave for the airport. It was enough time for a hike (to work off the pig from the night before) and some more indulgence before the flight home.

The hike up Runyon Canyon wasn’t as beautifully sunny or warm as it has been in the past, but heck I knew it was cold and rainy at home, so I appreciated every step of it.

One last meal and I got to knock something off my list that I’ve been aching to try for a few years now.

I am a big fan of Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook (Animal, Son of a Gun, Petit Trois) and have been looking forward to trying Jon & Vinny’s for a while. The “no reservations” thing means it’s been out for dinner and there’s too much on the menu that I want to try for me to have wanted to come solo.

Our hike ended early enough that we were lucky to be able to get a seat for breakfast with only a short wait. This was definitely the meal I wanted to end this trip to LA with.

Jon Vinnys BLT
BLT with grilled Gjusta ciabatta, bacon, arugula, tomato, aoili and a runny egg. The bread on this was insane.
Jon Vinnys pizza
Known for their pizza’s, I had to get one. Lucky for me, I could use breakfast as my excuse to order a pizza I’d eat at anytime of the day. Breakfast pizza with Yukon Gold potato, rosemary, olive oil, parmesan a very runny egg and Nueske’s bacon.
Jon Vinnys sweets
The sweet case tempted me the whole meal. I grabbed a couple bombolones and cookies for the flight home.







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