Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Brunch at Escala

 Escala - Artistic Soul Food.

I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered Sunday Brunch at this place in Koreatown.  The Chapman Market Plaza looks like a mystery for any one who just drives past it down 6th street.  That's because all of the bars are facing inward so you don't have much of a store front.  But not any more with the entry of Escala.  The giant windows face the street and give patrons great ventilation and view.  I can hear in my head passerbys saying.. WHATS THAT!?!

The decor inside is very cool.  The DJ spinning tracks on Sunday adds to the vibe which I was soaking up all morning.  Some of the decorative elements are obviously added in, but some made me wonder if they were originally a part of the building.  There was a Spanish church/mission feel that I thought was very unique.

Eventually this place will be busy, but right now it's not on the radar and all the creatures-of-habit will continue go to their usual brunch spots and wait one hour for a seat.  While Escala smiles from across the street.

 Food was pretty good.  Portions are smaller than what I'm used to, but this is probably a good thing.  We should get away from the notorious American sizes.  #supersizeme.  Chilaquiles,  Eggs Benedict and Loco Moco interpretations get an A plus for plating... but nothing to travel out of the way for.  The venue and energy were the most delicious parts of the morning.

 Oh and this Mango Chili Mimosa... t  Though I wanted a better punch.  MORE Mango.  MORE Chili!  For that I should have ordered the Sancho Reyes.  But tequila in the morning.. i guess I've made worst decisions.

 Oh and the Cafe de Columbia is $.25.  No joke.  Get it.

Sixty Beverly Hills - Rooftop Pool Party Movie Screening

My company hosted a summer party for our clients:  a roof top pool party movie screening in Beverly Hills.  No sure how much Los Angeles you can get with this event.

 During the early evening we enjoyed some sliders and the view.  I didn't know this place existed, but it was definitely one of the best rooftops I've experienced.  I'm wondering how open to the public this place is.  I also wondered how much my company put down to reserve all of this.

 As the sun set, the DJs started to relax and watch the screening of Weird Science from their cabanas.  A couple of people including myself got into the pool.

 I really wanted to invite my friends.  At the end of the night there were a ton of tubes and beach balls left to be disposed.  One of the clients took a handful of deflated ones for her church retreat.  I took as much as I could and called for a Lyft.  I stuff the giant trash bag of inflatables into his backseat and opened the passenger door to find my driver holding up a white board that read, "how's your night?  I'm deaf."  I was amused.  He was probably amused by my bag.  We chatted via white board at each red light.  He was a nice guy and I was interested in "talking" to him as much as I could write.  Like a white guy showing off his second year Mandarin, I gestured "thank you" in American Sign.  I didn't really see any sign that he was impressed so I just exited the car... maybe my accent was off.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Selfies as Reassurance

Last Thursday I attended a comedy show.  After the show, I got on stage to take a picture with some guys.  The mic was in front of us and the guys thought it would be funny to speak into the mic and spit gibberish.  We were quickly scolded by the staff, but here is the result of that group picture.

Lots of things weren't working for me that evening.  My awkward expression as a reaction to being yelled at.  My shirt that's one size too small even though I recently bought it and my hair which fell flat on my head giving me a really nice middle school look.  It's also not my best side.

One of the comedians that evening made a joke about how we look in the mirror and get disgusted with ourselves until we find the perfect angle.  When we find our go-to angle we say to ourselves, "I'm hot shit" and continue with out day.  After seeing this picture I declined an outing in Hollywood, Sunset Strip.  I felt inadequate.  I came home and showed Jimmy pouting - "HOW CAN YOU LOVE SOMEONE THIS UGLY!"  He looked at this picture and started to laugh!  Defending his chuckles as a reaction at the silly expression that I had.  But to me, this is what I look like that evening.  And it made me sad.   This is what I look like when I'm not smiling, adjusting, posing for a camera.  I dramatically concluded from this photo that I have completely let myself go and I should just jump into the gross tank and die.

The next day I put more product in my hair, wore a better shirt and took a selfie.  There it was... my angle.  Hair is up, mustache is macho, tummy is hidden, eyes are soft.  This is the guy that I think I look like.. this is the guy that I think appears in front of people 24/7.  This is #me.

It's a reassurance.  It's an adjustment of my reflection that I'm satisfied with which allows me to feel confident, capable and valuable.  Regardless of what people say - "stop it, you look fine!" The only thing that can convince me is... a selfie.  A selfie that is not candid, but rather an image of the BEST angle, best expression, best side, and best lighting.  Completely not candid... completely a facade.

And it helps that people "like it" to make me feel that much better, giving me more self worth. You can conclude that more reassurance is achieved with frequent selfies.  And this one picture was sufficient... for the weekend.  15 likes?  Including my own like?  I'll take it.

#selfie #nofilter #selfimage #candid

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Echo Park Lake... It Looks Like A Painting

I've blogged about Echo Park Lake many times before, but it's because I love it and don't use it enough.  I get amused when people from West LA ask me if it's safe.  To them I respond with the picture above.  It looks like a fucking painting... but with people of color.. that's how safe it is.

In July we enjoyed the return of the Lotus Festival  which brought us some culture dance shows, festival foods and dragon boats.

But I guess it's good that people think Echo Park is dangerous because it keeps them out of the neighborhood. For your organic kale and cupcakes, please stay west of the 405.  The fact of the matter is, this neighborhood is ethnically diverse and if you're scared to come here please stay away so that we can enjoy it.


In June, Tommy had a low key birthday celebration at the lake.  We had brunch at the boat house where they served us food at our picnic spot (So as long as our number was visible from the kitchen)  What wonderful service.  Tommy wanted us to paddle boat and pretend we were mario karting... but we quickly realized how tiring padding was.   Though we got pretty close to the fountain and got a little moist.   We noticed a drone above our heads and I found the video clip! If you squint, you can see us!

I also made a video using a simple video editing APP.  Check it out!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Kush Sake Bar

I usually do a what-I-ate monthly round up, but I thought I would try something different using my camera phone pictures and VSCO cam app and focusing on a restaurant.  I wanted to treat out Jimmy this Monday evening by taking him to Kush.  A new sake bar in Echo Park that opened just two weeks ago.  It's exciting to be an "early adopter."  Is this tech term transferable to food?  Anyway, we thought it was just going to be overpriced Japanese bar food on sticks, but we were delightfully surprised by every dish that we ordered.

While I was enjoying my usual tsukemen at Silverlake Ramen last week, the server handed me the menu to Kush - a restaurant closer to my house by the same owner.  I felt like I was getting tipped off on a brand new exciting place! I love Silverlake Ramen - despite the implications of its name, Silverlake Ramen is not water-down Americanized ramen.

Anyway, we drove 1.5 miles and found residential parking and sat at the booth.  Only one other person was there.  We started the meal with mushroom with truffle salt (4) which was the perfect appetizer.  Jimmy looked up at me with surprise, "this is really good."

The dips that come with the meal are great to enhance the flavors, but everything was very well seasoned.  The dips included: pepper/salt magic, sweet Japanese mayonnaise and soy sauce daikon.

Jimmy loved the chicken liver pate, brie cheese, honey on toast (4.50).  The berry on top added perfect sweetness.  The japanese pumpkin with honey sauce (3) was tasty and a good filling dish if you're worried about getting full.

The Japanese Meatball (9) which is a chicken meatball, poached egg and mashed potato was so savory and amazing.  We licked the bowl clean.  We also ordered marinated pork belly (3.5) which is always a winner.  I found myself really savoring each bite and dipping it in each dipping piece to see how the flavor would be enhanced.  The pork belly is definitely better than the wagyu beef (6) probably because it was fattier.

Kush is really pushing to be a sake bar and offered tastings of the "Mirror of Truth-seiko."  This was recommended to us by the server as the best pairing to our order.  Jimmy declared that it was really refreshing and perfect.  We will order this next time we come!  We also had the hot sake which warmed our bellies!

The bill came in this cute vintage cigarette box that looks like it came from the Rose Bowl Flea market.

5 stars! Trendy, classy and very affordable for refined and exquisite taste.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Harvard and Stone

For my birthday this year I wrote down a list of things that I wanted to do before finally settling on doing a joint birthday which I will blog about later.  Last year was a birthday blitz - my rooftop birthday at Perch on Thursday, James' wine bar bash on Friday and Davids Abbey debauchery on Saturday.  The following Sunday I gathered the group to do a beach adventure.  This year David was out of town and James and I combined.  So that left some open days for me to do some smaller things.

I gathered the roommates, Mony and Tim who were visiting for a dress up night; stopping by Harvard and Stone for some happy hour cocktails in East Hollywood.  We were early and took advantage of the setting to do some low light photo shoots.

We used our cell phone flash lights to produce extra lighting which worked for a few shots.  We didn't do this for long since it was quite annoying for other people.

There was a smaller bar in the back.  I took a stab at channeling RENT the musical.  LOL.  Most of the other pictures were pretty blurry.  Sad face.

There's also an upstairs that can be reserved for private parties.  But they charge a lot to reserve.  I felt like I celebrated my birthday here without going through the stress of reserving a table.  After a round, we were on our way to La Descarga which has a similar vibe.  To my surprise, both venues were holding burlesque shows.

I don't have any pictures from La Descarga, but it has always been on my to-do list to return to see a show.  Last time I was here was in 2010 on a weekday.  We were comfortable since it was an off night.  This year, it was crowded and cramped.  We enjoyed the burlesque show and bounced before we got too sweaty from the crowd.  Done and done!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Coastal Living

Manhattan Beach

The Strand House at Manhattan Beach pier is spectacular.  This is the view from our lunch table.  Front row seats to a tsunami and I hope that glass is thick enough.  It felt like a quick vacation and something I appreciate much more since I don't live near the coast.  Those are giant glass windows that protect us from the harsh natural atmosphere.  They are obviously cleaned rigorously everyday to provide the best view possible.

Come for the view, not for the food is what I wrote in my Yelp! review.  Though this hamachi is delicious, it's nothing too special especially for the price.  But again what are you really paying for?  I'm paying for this pretty picture.


This was the view from The Sunset restaurant in Malibu.  I pictured a beach side wedding reception here.  Someone offered to take a picture of me and a new hire by the beach.  We politely agreed.  The photographer then called out.  "now KISS!!!"  To this we both said... "we just met!"  Which made for a very awkward interaction.  We rushed back to the restaurant to join the others and share the story.

I guess we make a cute couple.

Many bottles of wine in and we're acting silly.  You can kind of see the ocean out the window.

What an attractive looking team.  We enjoyed wine tasting at a place off the PCH.  I pretended to taste the wine, but really I was just pounding it.  And by pounding it I mean sipping it and by sipping it I mean I was asking for the 3rd taste after finishing the 2nd in 4 seconds in front of the bartender.

Marina del Rey

Oh don't mind us!  We're just making our way to our yacht wearing our pastels.

The boat went in circles around the marina while we schmoozed and schmoozed.  People avoid this event because they feel trapped.  But I think it's quite nice to be a on a boat looking out.  There were three levels with food, dancing and whiskey tasting.  I definitely took advantage of that.

Will Rogers (Ginger Rogers)

I took this photo a while back when I noticed how dense this area of the gay beach was.  Everyone.  Rainbow flag.  Bad circuit music.  It's interesting how the gays flock to this secluded area a few miles north from the touristy Santa Monica pier.  No one would ever know.

What I liked about this is that there are a variety of body types.  I wasn't drowning in muscles.