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 my friends, 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.  

It was Planned; A Late Night Sexual Proposition

There was a work event last Friday in Malibu.  I planned for lots of drinking, no driving.  How does one plan for this?  I put a phone charger and contact lens container in my pocket and gave the heads up to some people on the west side that I might need a place to crash.  I wore boxers instead of boxer-briefs so that if I drunkenly stripped off my clothes I wouldn't be too embarrassed.  But none of that happened even if I somewhat planned for it.

The evening ended and I actually was pretty okay to drive even after bottles of wine, beer and bourbon.  Well, maybe not on a freeway for 18 miles. Regardless, I purposely left my car at home and took the train to work that day.   It was 12:30 in the morning and I texted Jimmy who offered me a ride.  I didn't want him to go across town just grab me, so I looked up bus routes.  I found the 4 which was 2 blocks away from where I was and would drop me off near Echo Park Lake.  "It's okay, I want to test out taking the bus baby."  I responded.  Jimmy didn't argue - he knew I would push back because I wanted to have an adventure any way.  And he was absorbed in his fashion shows on youtube.

I wanted to see who rode the bus late into the night and how "doable" this was.  An experiment by a white collar worker pretending to be a part of a community that has less of a choice in life.  It's like ART.  Anyway, I was alone on the street and the bus arrived after waiting for 10 minutes.  I had credit left over from a day pass that I wanted to use which was also a part of my justification to do this. Surprisingly, there were a lot of people.  Folks from parties, going home after a long work day, just finishing an errand.  Lots of different types of people were taking the 4 line at this hour.

1 hour and 8 minutes to bus across town

The bus drove down Santa Monica Blvd.  Through the rich and poor neighborhoods and through West Hollywood.  I fell a sleep and woke up a little groggy in a dodgy part of the iconic street when suddenly an middle aged man sat in the empty seat next to me.

He put out his hand and said, "hello."  He was balding, overweight and ghostly paul.  I stared at his hand and paused for the longest time as if I was about to make a large life decision and needed more time to process what was happening.  I shook his hand awkwardly. "Hiiii..."  I dragged out my response in suspicious.  His hand was dry and puffy.  Was this guy going to shank me?  I was carrying my Nikon J1 that Jimmy bought for me.  Is that what he wanted?

"Do you want to come with me on the next stop?"  His English was mildly broken and I realized what was going on.  I was being propositioned for sex.  He must have assumed that I was a WeHo party boy, drugged up from clubbing and drunk-horny-desperate as if I was recently rejected by the person I was hitting on.  The switch in my mind flipped and I got scared.

Like a child my response was timidly direct. "No.  I'm going home."  And I looked away as if I had been shamed.  

"Hey! I'm just asking!" He raised both hands and got up from the bench.  The bus doors open and he stepped out waving thank you to the bus driver.  His escape route was so planned.  The moment that was awkward was short and he was on his way to where ever.  I was only 2 miles away from my stop.

Jimmy picked me up while I was walking in the direction of my house along the lake.  He was just about ready to go for his 2AM gym run.  It was perfectly planned.

Eating out June

June was a very colorful month for food. MMMMMM.

Cha Cha Chili - Alhambra - Spicy Pork Sliders.  Next to Chengdu Taste, a casual spot that's not too popular
SweetSalt - Toluca Lake - Salad with duck on top
Pink's Taco - Century City - Lobster Enchilada... tastes like it sounds
Samosa House Sunset - Silverlake - Pakora
AOC - Plate of bread stuff
Chicken and Rice - Cypress Park - The appeal in New York is that's is available and quick and open when youre drunk.  This store front is very unknown and tastes pretty much the same.  But the experience is quite different.
Ramen - Somewhere in the South Bay... Ramen is blending together
Square One at the Boat House - Patty Melt at the lake... delicious
C & O Trattoria - Marina del Rey - Great Italian food, fun vibe
Isaan Station - Northern Thai cuisine, got their Khai Yang Ob Oong (Charcoal grilled turmeric marinated chicken) so good
Cha Cha Chili - Alhambra - Kim Chi Quesidilla
Samosa House Sunset -
Taco Bell - Joe got me this waffle breakfast thing for my birthday
Rock N Brew - El Segundo - it's like a Yard House.  These Hawaiian tacos were alright.
Coffee Chop Place by Soul Cycle - Sunset Strip - Pizza... expensive pizza
Lemonade - Manhattan Beach - Tuna in Avacado.  My go to healthy snack

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Robyn + Royksopp

We checked out the Robyn and Royksopp concert at the Hollywood Bowl and made an evening out of it.  We had tons of amazing food and consumed it in hidden picnic area 7 towards the top.  We feasted.  Unfortunately our boxed wine + 2 bottles was not enough and we were dry 1/3 in.  But no worries.  It was still an awesome show!

The Hollywood Bowl venue is one of a kind. I just wish it was connected to public transit. Though there have been many times were we've been lucky enough to park at the right spot for quickest exit. For now tandem parking and shuttle buses parked in street islands will have to do!