Category Archives: Los Angeles

6 places to get empanadas in Los Angeles & San Diego

It is ironic, but the places I prefer to get Empanadas are in San Diego, not in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is a city famous for its culinary delights and movie stars. However, with our 40% Latino population, you will be hard pressed to find good Mexican or Latin American food here. San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, and New Mexico are the optimal destinations for Latin cuisine! Ironically, once again, San Diego, which is right next to the border, has some of the world’s worst tacos. But, in Los Angeles, you can get very tasty tacos from trucks on the street at midnight!

Old San Juan: Los Angeles
This place has allegedly closed in the last few months. Their appetizers were spectacular, but their dishes didn’t suit me at all. They had amazing empanadas (which they call pastelillos in Puerto Rican Spanish) with chicken, beef, pork, and crab. The soft and flavorful fillings made these empanadas my favorite anywhere. Additionally, they had salsa tropical with mango and other wonderful non-Mexican ingredients in it which went great with their tarot chips. Something to try at least once. My favorite was their plantain alcapurrias. They were shaped like plantains made with ground and deep friend plantains. The insides were chicken, beef, pork, or crab. Personally, I liked beef the best in their pastelillos and alcapurrias, but all of their appetizer variations were amazing.

Here are some yelp locations that also have alcapurrias in the Los Angeles area
http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=Alcapurrias&find_loc=Los+Angeles,+CA

Nonna’s Empanadas: Los Angeles
This is a place right on the West-side of Los Angeles near Beverly Center and Beverly Hills that specializes in empanadas. They have dozens of varieties of empanadas including fruit empanadas. The place is run by Argentinians by the way. What I noticed is that the flavors for the Argentinian and Chilean empanadas seemed to my not that well educated palatte to be authentic. Unfortunately, although the other nationalities of empanadas tasted good, they were obviously not made by someone who knew the culinary culture of those countries.

I tried a samosa there. It tasted remarkably un-Indian. Good though! The shape of a samosa is supposed to be triangular and three dimensional, and a particular size. The shape adds authenticity. Food at this restaurant is in a sense mass-produced, so having customized shapes for the turnovers just isn’t part of the plan — so far. But, maybe things will change. I also tried a Russian Pierogi. I had one at a Russian Deli in San Francisco which had the authentic flavor. But, Nonna’s had neither the huge triangular shape, not the distinct greasy and brothy flavor that the real thing had. I recommend Nonna’s for a great experience and a fun time, but not for authenticity unless you order the Argentinian or Chilean empanadas.

La Paella: Los Angeles
This is a very nice restaurant right on the border of Beverly Hills on San Vicente. They have all types of paella to share (no individual portions to my dismay.) Their wines by the glass were very affordable and in very good taste as well. They have many traditional tapas dishes, and other entres from Spain. The staff is excellent and consist generally of people from Spain who prefer traditional food (based on my conversations with them.) The chocolate moose is a favorite of mine, and their empanada is the icing on the cake. Recommended, especially for a date!

Little Spain: Los Angeles
This is a place that has been in the 3rd Street Farmer’s Market for about two years. I went there twice and liked it. They offer paella for single customers in small sizes which is unusual. Great wine, nice service, and of course is it always a pleasure to be in the Farmer’s Market which has an ambiance of fun! They have chicken empanadillas too.

Bertas: Old Town, San Diego
There is a place in Old Town, San Diego called Bertas which has a very nice Lamb empanada. I enjoyed their ambiance, food, artwork, service, as well as the relaxing environment of San Diego in general.

Sevilla Night Club: Downtown, San Diego
It was a long time ago. But, I enjoyed some unusual tapas dishes there including an empanada. Great service. They are right on 5th ave in Downtown San Diego.

An eclectic assortment of Unusual things to do in various neighborhoods of Los Angeles!

There are many blogs that inform you of what the best restaurants, museums, activities, and other attractions there are to do in Los Angeles. Honestly, it’s a little hard to pick good places since there are so many good places. This article is going to focus on activities that you might not have thought of before. Not all of these activities might be for you, but keep an open mind, and your life might be changed from reading this article.

Universal Studios
If you are from out of town, you really need to visit Universal. See how movies are made! See live shows for all ages about the movie industry. Experience what it is like to be in a subway station that gets suddenly flooded! Go on a back lot tour as well and see what a real studio complex looks like! There are lots of rides there too. There are other studios in town that have tours for visitors. Universal is my first pick, but try the others too.

Church of Scientology
This is one of the strangest places I’ve ever been. On the surface it is a normal building, with better than average people visiting. You can take courses and study programs there as well. But, once you get involved with their classes, you will begin to discover how bizarre their teachings are. This is a great place if you want to explore the philosophically unknown!

Westwood Village
Los Angeles Metro has several really cool streets to hang around in. 3rd Street Promonade in Santa Monica, Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena, Sunset Strip, Melrose, and Westwood Village. Westwood Village is unique from these other cool locations because they have a University in the neighborhood, and this is where the students hang out! There are endless cool restaurants, shops, and coffee houses, not to mention two very popular hookah lounges with a hip mix of Middle Eastern music and hip hop.

Huntington Gardens
If you love gardens, there are the Descanso Gardens, and Huntington Gardens. I’m not sure which is better, but I have been to Huntington more times! Huntington is very stately with a following of very old school people who look like the old rich. There are gardens of many varieties including Japanese, Chinese, Desert, Italian, and more. I enjoy the Australian trees quite a bit. You can enjoy the museum if it is not under renovation, and they have a cafe as well. Enjoy!

Chan Dara
This is the most famous Thai restaurant in Los Angeles. Their traditional food is excellent, but I don’t care for their experimental fusion. One reason this restaurant is popular with the guys, is that they attract amazing looking women. There are many knock-outs who work as waitresses there, but the customers include many beautiful ladies as well. It just seems like a custom to be beautiful at Chan Dara. By the way, the seafood pad Thai is my favorite dish!

Griffith Park
Go for a night hike at Griffith Park. Go in a group of course. There are regular Sierra club group hikes at night. See the city from the hills. The observatory is wonderful at night by the way! Make sure you are in reasonable shape, because the hill is steep. Usually, the moon and stars do a good job lighting the park at night, but bring a few flashlights just in case. If you see eyes looking at you in the dark, it’s probably a deer.

Cafe Tropical
This is a great little cafe in Silver Lake. Not only do you get to try a great cafe with amazing Latino pastries, but you get to see this hip artistic enclave in the middle of Los Angeles. Enjoy Napoleans, popovers (their specialty,) tiramisu, and other types of European and Latin American goodies along with coffee.

The Unurban Café
This nutty place is loved by many. There is a regular crowd that has been going there for years. They just hang out all night, and they typically know each other. Go on comedy or music night to see amateurs doing their thing. The artwork there is really off-beat too. I just love the picture of the Leave it to Beaver family in the bathroom — so quirky! This cafe is on Pico in West Los Angeles near the border of Santa Monica.

Kabbalah Center
Kabbalah is based on traditional Judaism via the traditional text — The Zohar, which was lost for over a thousand years and found by a Spanish Jew in the middle ages. However, the Kabbalah folks keep their doors open to those of all faiths. It is common to see Christians, Muslims, blacks, Asians, and other (presumably) non-Jews there. It is not uncommon to see black orthodox Jews walking down the street in that neighborhood, not to mention blacks who have Jewish lineage such as the Ethiopian Felasheem who are nearby on Fairfax. Even Madonna studied Kabbalah at one time! Kabbalah Center has a class for beginners that is a sort of introduction class. There are many lectures, activities, talks, and other fascinating events there including Friday night Shabbat dinner! What I like about Kabbalah center is that they are not only spiritual in their philosophy, but welcoming, fascinating, and fun. I met many interesting people there, and you will too. Check out their book store!

Alibi Room
I am a huge fan of Kogi’s korean tacos. If you can catch the food truck on one of their stops, that is great. Their burritos with hashbrowns and kalbi are the best. See their twitter account for details on their Los Angeles locations. But, there is a bar in Venice that serves many of the items on the Kogi food truck menu. It gets crowded in there as it is a hip and popular place — even on a Tuesday night! Parking is not that great, but not that bad. Just go early, so you can get a seat.

The Bungalow
This is a favorite hang out for me in Larchmont, a block South from Chan Dara! The staff at the Bungalow is really friendly, and their food is an unusual mix of egg dishes, entrees, cafe items, etc. I love their Moroccan iced coffee. It keeps me palpitating. Their specialties are their cakes which include Red Velvet, Chocolate Moose, and cakes of various other colors. You gain 10 calories just by looking at their dessert display. Bring a friend, hang out, and share a dessert. You can sit on the street, inside, or on the side or back decks at this fun cafe. If you go at a popular time, it can be packed. I even saw one of the Kardashians there once, but don’t tell anyone I said that!

Comedy Club Improv night
I went several times with friends. It is a very unusual place with some unusual people. It’s on Franklin in Hollywood. You need to pick the night and the event. I went and saw amateurs once, but on a different night saw Jack McBrayer from 30 Rock, and boy was he good. He is just the same in real life as on the show — always happy, smiling and funny. I start laughing just looking at him because he radiates funniness! The crowd there loves comedy and loves the film industry. Many of them are from around the world and many have interesting stories to tell.

The Mayan
In the mood for a night club? I have been to the Mayan many times. They have live bands and played mostly salsa when I used to go there. It is downtown, and it is a large club. There are some regulars who are amazing dancers, so come prepared to see some action! In any case, go there sometime before the end of the world!

The Pantry
Dine in 1920’s Los Angeles at The Pantry. The first time I went there, the elderly male waiter looked like he had just stepped out of the 1920’s. This is a popular spot downtown with those who work the night shift. Their menu is classic American. There is nothing amazing about this restaurant other than it brings you back to a very different time. It also brings you right into the financial district downtown.

Summary
I hoped you liked my tour. There are many other places to visit in Los Angeles. When guests come to visit from far away, I like to take them to as many different types of neighborhoods as possible, so they can get a feeling for the city. If you are doing a tour of the city, you might enjoy my picks, but don’t forget to visit Sunset Strip, Koreatown, Malibu, or some of the other great places in Los Angeles County.

10 things to do in Griffith Park, Los Angeles

People come to Los Angeles in search of fame, or to get a job in the film industry. But, Los Angeles is an interesting place simply because it is a city with many sides (and corners.) You can enjoy a fast evening on the Sunset Strip with the stars and wanna-be stars, or go downtown to hang out with the executives in their suits. You can enjoy casual cafes in the Larchmont district, or enjoy ecclective bookstores and restaurants on Santa Monica’s 3rd street promenade. You can enjoy exotic hispanic foods in the Echo Park and Alvarado Street areas of Los Angeles West of Downtown, or enjoy fine dining in Bel-Air. This is a city of choices, and the choices are all yours. But, what about nature in the city?

Griffith Park is the largest urban park in the United States. It covers 4310 acres of land. The allure of the park is that there is so much to do there.

The Griffith Park Observatory
If you are doing out on a date, there are not too many places as romantic as the Griffith Observatory. It is a beautiful building in the hills with an amazing view of the city over stone balconies! Wow! Parking can be difficult, and you might need to take the shuttle up, so plan ahead. Or hike up if you go during the day.

Hiking in Griffith Park
There are 53 miles of trails in Griffith Park. Some are steep, while others are more two-dimensional. Hike over large grassy areas, or woodsy areas. You can hike up to Bee Rock (you won’t get stung,) or enjoy many other hikes. Parking for hiking is easy, except during the weekend when half of Los Angeles likes to go there to picnic and takes up all of the parking spots (at least the good ones.) There are multiple entrances to the park, so you need to learn how to get in and out, and where to park. Not to scare (or rattle) you, but once in a while there are rattlesnakes, and an occasional (large) tarantula. Deer, coyotes, and ticks seem to be there all the time. Just don’t let toddlers run around unattended if there are coyotes around just to be on the safe side. Group hikes are common at Griffith Park especially with the Sierra Club. But, they typically hike at night. Don’t be afraid if you see a pair of eyes staring at you. They are probably just harmless deer!

The Mars Exhibit
This is something that no longer exists, but it is a fond travel memory that I cherish. I went with a friend who asked me if I wanted to see something out of this world. Of course I said yes. There were huge displays of what the surface of Mars looked like. Mars was at its closest to the Earth that it had ever been. We were able to see it through a telescope as well which was uncomfortable for my eyes, but interesting.

Horseback Riding
Griffith Park is a great place to rent a horse and go riding. Just make sure you can control your horse. I saw a horse get spooked (by me while I was just sitting hanging out in the bushes off of a steep trail.) The horse threw the girl off and she blamed me. I told her I was just sitting there not even making any motions.

Attend a drum jam session
Every Sunday, the drummers of Los Angeles unite and just jam together. This has been going on for decades. There is a whole tribe of these drummers. I have seen as few as four and as many as dozens. Some of the crowd brings their own narcotics to smoke, so don’t inhale if you are near those folks! If you are not sure which part of the park they are in, just drive around with your windows rolled down, and you will soon hear. Or just find the Merry-Go-Round Parking Lot.

The Greek Theater
Enjoy concerts at the Greet Theater. Look on the internet to see what is playing!

The Los Angeles Zoo
Los Angeles has a nice Zoo in Griffith Park. It is not famous like the San Diego Zoo, but I went there many years ago and thought it was one of the better attractions that I had been to in Los Angeles.

The Merry-Go-Round
I’m not sure when it is functioning, but it is a great place to bring kids if you want to be around a half million other kids.

Train Museum (Travel Town Museum)
Like trains? There are a whole lot of them at the train museum. It is not a huge museum, but children will appreciate seeing a choo-choo train up close!

Bicycle Rental
Never tried this, but I heard it is fun. Personally, I would stick to the horses or hiking, but that is up to you!

Golf
You can even play golf at Griffith Park, and what a nice place to do so!

Halloween
There is a Halloween ride at Griffith Park, and the Old Zoo is an interesting place to hike. They used to have Halloween attractions there too, but not anymore.

More information
http://www.laparks.org/DOS/parks/griffithPK/index.htm

You might also like:

4 places to get ice cream in Los Angeles
http://blog.meander411.com/2014/02/11/ice-cream-in-los-angeles/

Have you ever taken a hill tour of Los Angeles?
http://blog.meander411.com/2013/11/12/have-you-ever-taken-a-hill-tour-of-los-angeles-ca/

Best places to visit in Koreatown, Los Angeles as a tourist

Best places in Koreantown Los Angeles

Most gringos don’t venture into Koreatown at all. They might drive through on their way to work, but they look at all the signs in Korean and get alienated. To be honest, Koreatown is not a safe place at night, and English isn’t spoken by all. It is not an uninviting place, it is what it is. You will quickly notice that Korean culture is substantially different from Chinese and Japanese culture which you might be more acquainted with. If you are English speaking, there is plenty to do, you just have to know how to select what to do.Korean cuisine is very different from other Asian nationalities. It could be considered an acquired taste.

Koreans love dishes with pickled flavors like kim-chee, pickled bean sprouts, radishes, and many other dishes. They also love BBQ on a metal plate. Koreans believe that having BBQ where the flame hits the meat directly can cause cancer, so they prefer their national form of BBQ. Although I am very comfortable and familiar with Asian cultures, I only know a few words of Korean. I feel at home in koreatown — at least to a point.

My picks for things to do in Koreatown!

(1) Sam Gyup Sal at Palsaik
Pork Belly is a food that is traditional in Korea. It was served to coal miners as the Koreans know that the fats in pork belly help to clear toxins from the lungs and also protect the liver. Don’t eat too much or you will gain weight. But, there are specialty restaurants that excel at cooking this popular form of meat. Palsaik is famous for having eight flavors of Samgyupsal including garlic and wine flavored. I went there once and enjoyed it. They give you lots of vegetables to eat with your meat, and you traditionally wrap the meat in a leaf and eat it. Fun! But, you need to bring a friend or two to share their large minimum order.

(2) The Prince
This is a very English looking interior. You might feel that you are in Britain in the 1940’s in this building. But, the food and guests are Korean. I went for my birthday. Popular dishes include Korean style chicken wings with rice balls in a chili sauce. The rice balls are actually elongated rice cakes and not balls, but I don’t know what else to call them. Putting semantics aside, the flavor was excellent and this is a fun basement pub and restaurant that is worth a visit!

(3) MaDang 621.
This is an upscale Korean restaurant near Western and 6th Street. I think they have changed their name since I was there last, and they changed it before I was there as well. But, the food is popular. When you have Korean food, they typically bring, “Pan-Chan” which are small dishes with kim-chee, tofu, pickled radish, rice cakes, and other goodies. You can drink at the bar here as well. This is a great place to bring your boss according to the internet. See if they have Mung Bean pancakes which is one of my favorite Korean dishes. I think they change the menu from time to time, so ask!

(4) Interchew
Sojutown Closed! How could they do that? They were so nice. But, you can visit Interchew for a similar experience with a less cool name. If you visit Koreatown, try some Soju at one of the other bars. There are many types of Soju and they will all put hair on your chest so you can be macho like Korean men (& women.) There is barley, rice, and potato Soju. The rice one tastes more like vodka than sake, but it is interesting. For me, I can’t handle my Soju, so I don’t drink it. But, you’ll enjoy tasting it at a minimum!

(5) Try a Korean coffee house
There are a dozen coffee houses in Koreatown. The one I’ve been to is Haus. But, on yelp you can see a ton of them. Koreans have very chic coffee houses and it is fun to go there and hang with them.
http://www.yelp.com/list/korea-town-coffee-houses-los-angeles

(6) Korean BBQ in general
I don’t eat Korean BBQ that much, but there are many places that serve this. It is a central part of the culture and you need to try it. Basically, they sell you some raw meat, and you cook it yourself on a hot metal plate or rock. They have vegetables too (lots of vegetables) and various alcoholic beverages. They even have an alcoholic drink that tastes like sweet potato which is their national flavor.

(7) Visit a spa
Korean spas are different. If you are not Korean, you will stand out. People have saunas, massage, and all types of things. There are a few decent spas in Koreatown. I have never been to one, but they are popular with the locals and would make a great tourist experience!

(8) Visit a Korean mall w/a food court.
There is a mall on Olympic and Western. They have all types of stores, a Korean supermarket that sells all types of Korean alcoholic beverages and foods. There is a food court in the basement, and lots of other fancy places to shop. If you have never seen this mall before, it is worth a shot.

Review of Mud Hen Tavern, Los Angeles, CA

I recently had to treat my housemate to a birthday dinner. We didn’t know where to go. It was either a jazz restaurant, Black Dog or Mud Hen. If there had been a restaurant called the Angry Pig, I’m sure that would have been on the list as well.

Mud Hen is an innovative restaurant with a very satisfying menu. I ordered a variety of dishes which we mostly shared. The lamb meatballs were excellent. The asparagus with sesame almond sauce was very satisfying as well. I also had a very unusual dish called a Scotch Egg. It was an egg, covered with sausage, and then breaded and deep fried, served with a watercress salad and aioli. Very satisfying and unusual.

The dish that was the most sophisticated was the pumpkin ravioli. It was served with wild mushrooms, kale, garlic, and we skipped the cheese since I don’t like cheese. It was a very delicate dish with softer flavors.

I decided to end the evening with a Whiskey BBQ Brisket. I got it with vegetables instead of the potatoes au gratin. Wow! This dish was oozing with flavor, and the apple puree sauce to the right and the white horshradish dip to the left blended perfectly with the rich and spicy flavor of the seasoned meat! Yum!

The service is great, and they got a few of my jokes. But, here is how I would have “done up” this ecclectic Los Angeles restaurant.

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Hollywood version, not based on reality…
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A cage for two…
Mud Hen Tavern is a great place to eat if you don’t mind feeling cooped up. The stalls are all surrounded by chicken wire. However, out of respect to their clientele, they offer “open-cage” dining in the patio! I ordered a light meal. After ten minutes, the waiter came back wearing a beak, feathers, and carrying a bird feeder that had the contents of my meal. This has been the most interesting meal I’ve had since I was hatched.

As I was perched in my chair, and had barely pecked at my food, I just felt like such a bird-brain for ordering more than I could eat. Food isn’t cheap in Los Angeles. Then, the waiter, the head waiter, and the head-head waiter arrived to ask me what my experience was at their restaurant. I said it was good, but that I didn’t understand the significance of their pecking order. How much seniority do you need to be a head-head waiter, or does it only depend on how “good” you are? They told me that their seniority was just for the entertainment purposes of their guests and that they were all equals there, or at least pretended to be that way.

Then, they asked me if I wanted to do wine tasting — they had a wine tasting flight of something from LAX vineyards. It was a blend of a Cab, Merlot, and a shuttle! The wine was fun, but I felt that my feathers had been ruffled when I got the bill for the party of twelve next to me. $300? A simple mistake!

After the meal I said, “The food was great, and thank you for not injecting me with hormones!” They said, “We don’t do that here. We prefer to have free-range hormone free clients!”

Then, I signed my credit card printout, but they couldn’t read the signature because it was written in chicken scratch! The Mastercard transaction was approved, and after that I drove back to my nest to see if I had any new followers on Twitter — how befitting!

Tweet:
(1) Welcome to Mud Hen Tavern. Yes, we’d like a cage for two please! Just don’t inject us with hormones!
(2) Mud Hen Tavern is a great place to dine if you don’t mind feeling cooped up. The stalls are all surrounded by chicken wire.

Places to have crab & crab cakes in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is not famous for crab, crab cakes, or crabby people, but I had to write this article since I found the perfect crab cake. When I go to most restaurants and order their crab cake, it is nothing special. The only memorable experience I have had eating crab in general was at a sushi place that served crab, shredded salmon, corn, and put it on a circular tortilla chip with a little sauce. Those flavors go together perfectly! But, enough about Japanese food, let’s crab about crab cakes.

#1 Pick
Asia de Cuba
This restaurant is right next to the world famous Sky Bar featured on Entourage on Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. It is a Cuban style interior with Asian-Cuban fusion going on. Try the smoky rum alone or with a mojito. It’s a bit expensive, but there is nothing like it anywhere. We tried many dishes there over the years. The coffee encrusted steak was an anomaly to my taste buds. I’ve never had anything like it. The bold flavors blended perfectly. I tried similar coffee encrusted dishes elsewhere, but it just wasn’t anywhere near as good as the experts at Asia de Cuba cook it. By the way, the chef normally comes out to greet the customers at this restaurant which is a wonderful touch!

But, what about the crab cakes, ah, the crab cakes. They were recommended to me by the waiter, and I will always trust that waiter from now on, except I can’t remember which waiter I had any more. The crab cakes are flavorful, moist, and oh so fluffy. The texture, the flavor, and the size of these isosceles beauties was acutely pleasing to my equilateral taste buds. In any case, if you live in Los Angeles, Asia de Cuba is a must if you like Cuban or Chinese food. Bring a thick wallet, because it is expensive!

Whole Foods
Are you a restaurant lover? You love to eat out at places with a nice ambiance? Whole Foods might not be what you have in mind, but I love being there, and I love the staff, especially in the seafood section. They know how I like my salmon seasoned and cooked. Whole Foods allows you to pick from many choices of raw or prepared seafood options. They have various types of fish, plus kabobs, crab cakes, salmon cakes, shellfish, and other goodies. They will cook it for you. Everything they have including the crab cakes is excellent. I prefer their Atlantic Salmon as part of my daily health routine. But, their crab cakes are really large, much less expensive than any restaurant, and the texture is fabulous.

Ruth Chris’ Steak House
I had crab cakes once there. They were great, but they are more famous for their steaks cooked at a very high temperature with butter. Their cooking process is a bit unique. It has been years since I was there, so the details are a bit hard to remember. The food there is expensive, but if you like their unique style and attentive staff, you will like it.

Gladstones
This Pacific Palisades shore restaurant has a unique seafood menu. I ordered the crab cakes which have a hint of dill, corn, and a sweet Thai dipping sauce. They were good, but nothing to write home about. Try the salmon tacos. Those were some of the best I’ve ever had and came with three chutneys — mango, blackened salsa, and avocado. Yum.

Crustacean
Sorry to change the theme from crab cakes to crab, but Crustacean in Beverly Hills is the place to go. It is my assistant’s favorite place in the world. Although they don’t have crab cakes to my knowledge their whole roasted crab is one of their most famous dishes. It goes amazingly well with their garlic noodles which is a dish that they specialize in. I tried a lot of their fusion cooking and enjoyed it every time. I didn’t like any of the desserts at Crustacean, and their wine list was average. But, go for the food. You can park for free after 6pm in the parking structures behind the stores on the other side of the street on Little Santa Monica. Oh, and before I forget — this is a hang out spot for the stars, so don’t be surprised if you see someone famous.

Itzakaya Japanese Restaurant
This little gem on 3rd street on the West Side of Los Angeles is where I had the crab, salmon, and corn kernels on circular tortilla chips. they have all types of kushi and small dishes to choose from. But a warning — there is no place to park unless you walk for four blocks, and expect to wait in line. This place is popular.

Ice Cream in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is not much of a tourist city despite the allure of Hollywood. There is actually not that much to see or do that is of any type of quality high enough for me to recommend. However, this is a city of great restaurants! Desert has never been the forte of Los Angeles. Everyone is on a diet around here. But, there is a growing trend of micro-creameries that are producing some great results!

Sprinkles
This is one of my favorite ice cream venues. Conveniently located in Beverly Hills next to a parking lot that offers free parking after 6pm. I love Beverly Hills for this reason. The first time I went to eat in West Hollywood I got a ticket for not turning my wheel. So, I just won’t go back. I’ll go to Beverly Hills where the city values repeat business and has ample parking! Sprinkles has cupcakes in their shop to the left. People stand in line to order out of the wall at night. It is such a strange scene. But, on the right, they have an ice cream place. The color scheme is white with red dots. It takes a while to get used to their interior design and color scheme. Flavors are very accentuated. Their pistachio is very pistachio-y. Their chocolate is very chocolate-y. They have many other unique flavors like Cherry Vanilla, Peanut Butter, and Coffee Almond Fudge (my favorite.) The quality of the food and service is fantastic, and the hot fudge is even better. Additionally, they have brownies and cookies that you can combine with your ice cream to make a sandwich.

Milk
A very unusual place. They have novelty ice cream sandwiches, and other ice cream products there, not to mention very unusual flavors like pumpkin, Mexican chocolate, and more! I tried their croissant bread pudding. Such a unique item. Milk is located on Beverly Blvd. a few blocks west of La Brea. They have a selection of ice cream, cupcakes, and other unique deserts and coffees. Parking is a little tricky, but have a good time and enjoy the neighorhood scene.

Umami Burger
Get unusual Asian inpired burgers, and very unusual ice cream flavors. I had ice cream that tasted like a particular type of Japanese beer once. They rotate flavors, so now they have some other unusual flavors. Then, for desert it gets better. They have boutique ice cream sandwiches from L.A. Creamery which is a microcreamery. Very delicious and worth it!

Peddler’s
I have not been there, but my roommate really wants to go. They are located in downtown Los Angeles on 458 Main Street which is between 4th and 5th. You have to get on a bicycle and peddle to churn your ice cream. How unique. I heard this place is fun. I will try it sometime soon and let you know!

Have you ever taken a hill tour of Los Angeles, CA?

When many of us think of travel, we think of riding an elephant in Thailand, seeing the Taj Mahal, or seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris. But, there are plenty of travel opportunities where you live that you can enjoy without an airplane ticket or even a date with a friend.

I spend most of my time in the flat part of Los Angeles. I am aware that there are hills, beaches, deserts, mountains and more. It is just that I live here, work here, dine here and have appointments here in this urban sprawl. I have traveled to 17 countries in my life and been to many states as well. I am no stranger to travel. But, it finally dawned on me a few months ago that the hills of Los Angeles County are not only pretty — they are a different world. As a student of feng-shui, I try to visit different environments to see how they will affect my business, health and mood. I learned that there are some very auspicious spots in the hills around here. But, there are so many, that you could have an entire day devoted to driving up and down hills.

Beverly Glen
If you live in a middle-class part of Los Angeles County and then drive around Beverly Glen, you will notice that a lot of people are in a huge hurry. I joke about them having a bladder disorder that makes them have to tailgate so they get to the bathroom faster. Wealthy people sometimes are wealthy because they get more done than the rest of us, and those tight schedules can lead to agitated driving! But, once you get further up the hill, you enter a different world. Driving the twists and turns of Mulholland can look more like a Chinese painting than anything else. In many parts of the hills, you might feel like you are hundreds of miles away from downtown Los Angeles. There are also lots of interesting little parks on Mulholland with hiking spots and a few restaurants on Beverly Glen half a mile down from the peak of the hill.

Pacific Palisades
If you like to see the beach and meditate in the manicured gardens of Self-Realization Fellowship, this is a nice place to go. There is also wonderful hiking in Temescal Canyon — don’t feed the deer! There are lots of little hills to drive up and down around here with great scenery. This area is not far from Malibu which has amazing hills with spectacular views of the ocean!

Mount Washington
This is one of Los Angeles’ hidden gems. Few people know about this place that can transport you back to the 1920’s. I go up to meditate at the SRF facility at the top of the hill. The bottom of the hill is wall to wall slums equipped with gangs, bad traffic, low end eateries and narrow streets. Knowing which route to use to surmount this perilous hill is key. I prefer Mount Washington Blvd., but suit yourself. Don’t come here at night if you don’t know your way around. This hill offers great views of downtown Los Angeles. I also want to note that I hear 1920’s music in my mind whenever I get to the top of the hill. This was old school America in its heyday. There was staggering wealth, and I can picture them having a lively social life as well. SRF has yet another meditation garden facility at the top of the hill. It is a world of its own with a beautiful lawn, a library, chapel, and meditation gardens. You will feel like you are in a different world up there!

Griffith Park
There are so many roads going through Griffith Park. So many things to do, and so many stories. There is a train museum, an observatory, a zoo, the old zoo is still there if you like to walk around. There is endless hiking. There are also holiday events. Horse rentals are also possible at this location. I once went to a very unique Mars exhibition about nine years ago (which was out of this world). There were detailed pictures of what the surface of the red planet looked like. If you need a favorite hiking spot — this is it. Watch out for coyotes and an occassional rattle snake. Enjoy great views on all sides of the hill, and night hiking is the norm until about 9pm almost every night!

Runyan Canyon
This is a great hiking place with great views. Near the top of the hill there is a house with horses that seems to be a favorite for movie producers. I’ve seen that house in at least one movie so far and they are always shooting around there! There are a few choices of trails, and the paths go up to Mulholland, and a few hikers cross over to hike on the other side too — don’t get lost! This is a popular place for people in their 20’s, 30’s and those who want to walk their dogs (annoying). Perhaps the most densely populated hiking trail in Los Angeles, you should come here at least once to see what it is like. Read the signs when parking on the streets below!

Silver Lake
There is lots of driving around to do in the hills of Silver Lake. See the beautiful lake from different angles in the hills. Be careful! The streets can be twisty and narrow. It is also easy to be on the wrong street since there are so many condensed together. There are many fun coffee houses and places to eat too, so enjoy. Cafe Tropical is my all-time favorite destination in Silver Lake as well as Tribal Cafe which is on the other side of the 101.

West Hollywood
This is not exactly in the hills yet, at least not on Sunset Strip. But, if you go to the Sky Lounge, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the city while sipping your Cabernet or Martini. Just don’t go when they are shooting a movie there, or they might not let you in!

Review of Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine: Los Angeles, CA

Review of Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine

This restaurant has been on my list since 2005 if you can believe that. Parking in downtown Los Angeles is so hard, and this is a type of place you want to visit with a friend. Food review is a hobby that I only pursue occasionally, so it is easy to see how this restaurant escaped me for so long.

I went with a friend. We originally wanted to go to a haunted house two blocks away. They were open, but were having a VIP night that was not discussed on their website. So, I suggested that we dine at Roy’s instead for an unusual experience.

Upon arrival, I learned that they had a new chef who liked to try unusual cooking techniques. I liked that idea. After all, I have the same type of food daily. It is fun to try something completely new. I looked over the menu. As a lamb lover, I decided to try a lamb appetizer. I also wanted to try the Macadamia Mahi Mahi as well as a Macadamia Cremeaux for dessert.

The lamb appetizer
The lamb was very unusual in that it was brought to me on a very peculiar see-through three dimensional glass object with a hole in the middle. You have to be careful, or the lamb will fall into the hole. The lamb came with mushrooms and flowers. I was advised that the Hawaiian flowers were edible. So, I tried a mushroom, and it tasted exactly like lamb, and had a similar texture as well. How interesting! The flowers had a very uplifting and “floral” quality to them. The lamb was tender and delicious. What an unusual appetizer!

Next I tried the Macadamia Fish.
This Mahi Mahi had been cooked in a crust of crushed Macadamia nuts. It was served with asparagus, sliced red potatoes, mashed potatoes with lobster sauce, and a sauce.

What I first noticed was that there were too many white objects with white tastes and an excess of blandness. The elongated green objects added some color, but didn’t really belong with this dish. It is tradition to have spinach, asparagus, or green beans with a fancy dish, but the flavors didn’t mesh in this case. For my taste, the encrustment was too thin, the sauce too light. But, the sliced potatoes cooked in butter were a delight. The best part of the dish was the mashed potatoes with the lobster sauce, but you only get about three tablespoons of it, so it doesn’t go far.

The pineapple coconut upside-down cake
My friend ordered this contraption. Very delicious and a hit among customers. It had a pleasant texture where you really feel all of the quarter-inch chunks of cooked pineapple. Very unusual.

The Macadamia Cremeaux
I loved our waiter. He had such a great personality! We discussed whether it was a cremeaux or a cremoix! I don’t know the difference and can barely pronounce French as well. This soft and exquisite dessert is like nothing other I have ever had. I would drive two hours to savor it again. Paired with blueberries and a berry compote foundation, the richness of this dessert was amazing. It really brought out the flavor of Macadamias in an environment of sweetness and smoothness which contrasts greatly to eating it raw which is merely crunchy.

Next time
When I go back to Roy’s, I want to try their lobster pot-stickers. I’m a lover of Asian dumplings and have had almost every type from almost every Asian country that exists, and a few from Asian countries that don’t exist!