Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Stuff to do this week

Since most people are not working(me) or partially working (most others), here's a rundown of stuff going on in LA that I would probably do if I had an endless supply of time, money, and energy.

Tuesday Dec 30
All You Can Drink @ Velvet Room
Korean nightclubs are a unique species indeed. If you've always wanted to try one out, revisit , or just feed your daily clubbing habit, this seems like a good deal to me. AYCD is never a bad thing. And while VR isn't the premiere ktown nightclub like Le Cercle, if memory serves me right from my last visit almost 2 years ago, this place is pretty flash. Expect to see lots of hot underaged asian girls and guys too chicken shit to ask for their numbers without the assistance of "booking."

I would call ahead to either confirm this deal or make a reservation if I were you.

$20 Ladies
$100 Gents

Velvet Room
3470-1 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 381-6006

Wed Dec 31
Giant Maximus
Giant used to be this weekly mega party in Hollywood back when raves where all the rage and people were dropping E and spreading that PLUR bullshit (Peace Love Unity Respect). While Giant is long gone, they do throw some awesome sounding parties each NYE. Been wanting to go every year for some reason. Maybe because of the awesome headlining djs (Paul Oakenfold this year), the idea of a gigantic mass of people just out to have a good time... almost an entire city populations' worth. I will make it out to this, one day....

From their website: Under 3 Climate-Controlled Big Top Arenas, the 3rd Annual GIANT MAXIMUS continues its reign as This Planet's Largest 21+ New Year's Eve Celebration!

Situated on a seven-acre private site in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles with the soaring skyscrapers towering above, GIANT MAXIMUS offers 3 Stages with an indoor capacity of 8,500 and a 1,500 capacity courtyard featuring the ‘Monster Midway,' presented by Monster Energy, with High Flying Acrobatix, Psychedelic Circus Antics, Amusements, Games, Carnival Rides and, of course, the GIANT Ferris Wheel.

Price $75+
7pm - 4am (!!!)
Giant Maximus
835 Francisco St
Los Angeles CA 90017

Thurs Jan 1
Pasadena Tournament of Roses
If you're still sober enough, this is a SoCal institution that I think everyone should experience at least once, kinda like the ball drop in Times Square NYC on NYE. You will likely have to camp there the night before, but even that part of it sounds fun and appealing to me. Especially if you're with the right people and either a winnebago or good camping gear :) I won't be making it out this year (again), but one of these days....

8am - 10:30am
Ellis Street & Orange Grove
Pasadena, CA

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Why LA is better than SF - Father's Office v. The Toronado

The whole "which city in Cali is better - LA v SF" is a topic that all Californians (and some non-Californians) have probably treaded more than they'd like. Yeah, I'll admit it, I think the Angelenos do a lot of things better. In fact, I think LA is waaay better than SF. At least in the things that matter to me :)

Aside from the 10 months a year of awesome weather, I've discovered yet another reason why LA is awesome (at least compared to SF)... the better beer pub.

Monday night, the last night of my epic SF visit, I was fortunate enough to visit the Toronado. Apparently this place is an SF institution in the lower Haight for beer and truckers and a kitschy cool that can never be replicated by high-powered chain restaurants. Everyone was raving about this place - my friends, the people I met up with inside, everyone. Indeed, it is a sight to behold and the crowd flowing through the night varied from local yuppies, guys finishing their shifts at the auto body shop, and later - the underage hipsters who probably used fake ids to get in.

The locals who brought me here were raving about the historic significance of this place and how it had "so many" different types of beer on tap. But I still think that at the end of the day, Father's Office (FO) is simply the superior brew pub. I certainly enjoyed my time at the Toronado, but here's a head-to-head comparison

1. The Beer - obviously the most important part of a beer pub. Toronado certainly had a respectful and carefully selected variety. But in terms of quantity, FO definitely wins. There may be 100s of different tap-pulls on the walls, but the actual beers you can order are only listed on the far wall and number about 20 on any given night. FO has closer to 50 different just as carefully selected beers. Though I did have a glass of hot spiced meade which I quite enjoyed at Toronado...

Winner - FO

2. The Food - Toronado doesn't sell food, but they let you bring your own or order from the sausage joint next door. Which is all cool and dandy. But really, can anything compare to the FO burger?! I think not!

Winner - FO

3. The Atmosphere - Toronado is this weird cross section of blue collar joes, urban hipsters, and just plain freaky weirdos off the street. FO Santa Monica is a casual woodsy neighborhood pub whose popularity outgrew its physical size. FO Culver City is a sleek bar/lounge that still retains the casual feel of the SM location with a mix of locals stopping for dinner, groups of friends, and random couples on dates, and the occasional celebrity sighting (I saw Evan Handler aka Harry Rosenblatt of SATC fame here once).

Winner - tie

Overall score: FO 2, Toronado 0.

You do the math.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Restaurant reivew: Whist at The Viceroy in Santa Monica

Let me preface this post by first saying that I'm glad I didn't have to pay for this dinner.

At my company, we get one really good dinner a year. And by a series of events beyond my control, Whist was selected (my first choice was Providence on Melrose. I will eat there, someday...).

Valet parking was easy, but it costs $8 with validation. Again, if I was paying, I would say try to find parking on the nearby streets. It's definitely doable. But since I wouldn't be paying for this, heck why not.

Entering the lounge portion, it's really dark. So dark that I barely found my compadres as they were waving at me from their little corner spot. Upon sitting on the white leather-ish wingback chairs, I surveyed the room and found it to be upscale retro elegant. It's like a thrift store gone highbrow, on acid.

Service in the lounge area was quick. I ordered a.... shoot, can't remember the name. But it was made from Skyy vodka, and muddled blackberries and St Germain (elderflower liquer) for $15. It was really fragrant without being overly sweet. My coworker said the taste kinda reminded him of a lychee martini. I think I have to agree with him. But I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Fortunately, the dining room was illumated a bit better. Not by a whole lot, but enough. It's a pretty enough space. Not like breathtaking, but good enough. I'm here to eat, not to be in a pretty room anyways. Surveying the menu, I started to get excited..... salads with black truffle, grilled sweetbreads, a charcuterie selection. Maybe my misgivings were unfounded.

The middle charcuterie section is $15 for 3 items. As we had a big group, we ordered everything down that middle column. It was hit or miss, especially with the cheeses. While some were soft and pungent while others were dry and rubbery. Hard cheeses should not be rubbery. But I did enjoy the portuguese sausage and the candied nuts. Those were good.

For my entree, I decided to order 2 apps instead so I won't get overly stuffed. First up was a salad of brussel sprout leaves, grilled brioche, topped with a poached egg with black truffle shavings ($15). The toast and egg were very yummy, but I could barely make out the truffle flavor. I mean, I could see its shavings on my plate, but I couldn't taste it. My coworkers also tried it and agreed that they couldn't taste the truffle - boo :( Truffles are one of my favorite things to eat and usually a little goes a long way, but I guess not here....

My 2nd app was the grilled sweetbreads ($15). It was served on a bed of braised red cabbage. This was pretty good, but not like "omg, i'm going to be thinking about this all week" good. But no complaints with that one.

The other folks got the steak with duck fat fries (steak was too cold, duck fat fries didn't taste duck fatty enough $25), loup de mer (whole fish was not scaled properly and was really difficult and messy to eat $25). The people who ordered the lobster pasta entree said they liked theirs.

We had serveral bottles of wine which were also hit and miss.

I did enjoy my dessert though. It was a pear cake with malt ice cream. Some people that it was too sweet, but I liked the balance of the warm sweet cake with the cool creamy ice cream. I do wish they skinned the pears though, because the skins got a bit chewy dry when baked.

Service was friendly enough, but I thought the pacing was a bit too slow. Towards the end, I kept following our waiter guy with my eyes hoping and praying that he'd ask if we needed anything else so that bossman could ask for the check.

Yeah, so the food was pretty good, but not great. I think this place does have potential due to their awesome location and interesting food offerings. But there are definitely some kinks that need to be worked out before they can compete with places like Osteria Mozza or Providence or even a Comme Ca. Bossman declared that we're eating at Providence next time. I hope he keeps his word.

Whist Restaurant
1819 Ocean Ave
Inside the Vicery Hotel
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 260-7511

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fun things going on this week


Half Price food at Citizen Smith
I don't know why I always forget about this deal. It's so good my friend CarolineonCrack and I went twice in a row back in the summer! It's half price on all their yummy foods every Monday at this usually highbrow hollywood hotspot.

Citzen Smith
1600 N Cahuenga Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028
Dinner 6pm-2am every day


Free screening at the Arclight of The Wrestler

I actually rsvp'ed for this thing thru Yelp, but am probably not gonna go. But sounded pretty fun and it's FREE! :) Message me if you want my rsvp.

From yelp: Director Darren Aronofsky (of PI fame and also Mr Rachel Weiss) presents a powerful portrait of a battered dreamer, who despite himself and the odds stacked against him, lives to be a hero once again in the only place he considers home - inside the ring.

Tuesday, December 16th at 7:30pm
Arclight Hollywood Cinema
6360 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Dim Mak Tuesdays at Cinespace
Yet another hipster mecca that happens every Tuesday. I've always meant to go, but never made it out.... yet. Steve Aoki is an awesome DJ and this place is his Tuesday residency. Free vodka drinks 10p-11p for your early birdies.

Tuesdays 10p - ?
6356 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood CA

A Pablove Supreme
I don't quite get how this is supposed to be a charity benefit when it's a free event. But in anycase, Silverspun Pickups will be spinning and there will also be a few acoustic sets. Expect uber-hipster silverlakey crowd here. FYI - this is an all ages event, so be wary of who's drinks you're paying for...

6pm - ?
Space 15 Twenty
1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd
LA CA 90028

Four on the Floor - new residency at Chloe in Santa Monica
It can be difficult to find good DJ music on the westside. And since Chloe is in Santa Monica and one of my fave "intimate" lounges on the westside, they get a shout out just for that. They describe it as "A sweaty, dancey mess of House, Disco, Bangers, Balearic beat, Yacht and Electro"

9:30pm - ? (closing time is 1:45am)
1449 2nd St
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Scion House Party
Although this party doesn't offer any free booze (boo), Scion usually puts on pretty good shows/parties. Not sure what to expect with this one, but let me know if you find out :)

Free with RSVP
6021 Hollywood Blvd
LA CA 90028

Snow in LA Music Festival (All ages)
One of these days, I will make it out to The Echoplex. Until then, I'll just write about things that look cool that they got going on, like this Sunday! An all day music fest for $10. I like their little shoutout to the GhettoGloss girls in gorilla masks series ;)

$10 admission
The Echoplex
1154 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday night blues

I hate Sunday nights. Even more than I hate Monday mornings. But this made me laugh, in a good way :)


Friday, December 12, 2008

Stimulate that economy!

Some more shopping events that I thought sounded cool for this weekend...

Nation LTD Warehouse Sale
From their FB page: Hey! I have tons of merchandise both from last season and CURRENT styles! I'm moving to another space so need to CLEAR out my inventory... Tees at 3-10 bucks, gooey soft sweatshirts at 15 - 20 beans. Super cute Fall ponte dresses at 50% to 75% off retail!

Fri Dec 12th 9a-4p
Sat Dec 13th 9a-40
850 Broadway, #301 (cross st. 9th)
Downtown LA

Another LF Holiday Warehouse Sale
Based on my experience, LF warehouse sales have a HUGE selection of pretty decent stuff at deeply discounted prices. There may be a lot to sift through, but if you have about 2 hours to spare, it's worth it.

Must have photo ID for entry

Fri Dec 12th 10a-6p
Sat Dec 13th 7a-3p
Mon-Wed Dec 15th-17th 10a-4p
LF Warehouse (Westchester area)
5333 McConnell Ave
Los Angeles CA 90066

Unique Los Angeles
Similar to Felt Club, if you went about a month ago, this sale will feature 200+ local and indie designers selling (as the name implies) unique tees, jewelry, accessories and home stuff. And it's definitely a nice alternative to going to "da mall". There's a $5 admission, but half of it goes to some charity (can't remember the name right now).

Sat Dec 13th 11a-7p
Sun Dec 14th 11a-7p
California Market Center (downtown LA)
110 East 9th Street
Los Angeles, CA

I also found this neat sounding Mattel tent sale that runs thru the end of next week (Dec 20) in El Segundo thru lasnark

***American Apparel Factory Sale***

AA is actually one of my favorite brands and it is certainly a staple of any hipster's closet. Their stuff doesn't cost too much to begin with, but when it goes on sale, it's even cheaper! When they had their sale last year, it got a lot of press (it did sound like a pretty wicked "sale" with waterslides, djs, bbq, etc) and I heard the line to get in was 1hr+. But hopefully this one isn't as insane.

From AA website: It runs from 9am to 6pm. And this one's all about the CLOTHES! Lots more stuff, lower prices, and better deals. Piles and Piles of deals to dig though for all your holiday gift giving needs. There will be music from Viva Radio, food, and a very special photo op from Polite in Public with "Santa Claus" and Jonny Makeup, everyone's favorite Holiday Elf.

Sun Dec 14th 9a-6p
American Apparel (downtown LA)
747 Warehouse St
Los Angeles
, CA

(213) 923-0578

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sneaky ways to avoid carfax stalking

I've learned a lot about accidents, cars, and collision damage in the past week.

Another tip of note:

When most people are in an accident and the damages exceed the amount of their deductible, their first response is to report it to their insurance company and have them pay for it, right?

Well, think twice before you take that step. Let me break it down for ya.

Let's say for example, you're in a fender bender and the damages come out to $1500. Your deductible is $500. So of course you want the insurance company to pay the other $1000, right? But have you thought about this? There's a concept called "loss of value" which means that every time your car's in an accident, it loses some of its value. Will your fender bender cause a loss of value greater than $1500? If so, you might be better off paying for the entire $1500 out-of-pocket. This way, nothing needs to be reported to the DMV and carfax will never know that your car's been in this little fender. Thus no loss of value resulting from this accident. In general, you're supposed to notify the DMV (at least in CA) if you have any accident with damages over $750. But it is the driver's responsibility to do this. And if you pay for the damages out of pocket and don't report to the DMV, then there is no paper trail and no one has to know about your little fender bender.

Remember, this is not an option if your insurance company gets involved as there will be a paper trail and all bets are off.

Now this may sound all shady and illegal to some of you, but I'm asian and fulfill every asian stereotype you can imagine including indulging in illicit activities. So if you don't like anything i've said, leave me a comment. And if that still doesn't appease you, then you can bite my shiny metal ass.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Rental Car Insurance Through Visa

I know this post has nothing to do with anything faux, LA, or hipster, but I thought the info was important enough to share.

Did you know that most Visa cardholders have rental car auto collision coverage at no additional cost to you? Which means that if you get in an accident with your rental car and you used Visa to pay for it, Visa will pay for the damages!!!

I've found out this lesson the hard way. But basically, you should never accept a rental car company's offers of collision damage protection (usually at around $10/day) because your credit card can provide it to you for FREE! Some of the basic terms and conditions I've learned are:

  1. The cardholder must be the primary renter or an authorized driver
  2. The rental must be paid for through Visa
  3. Collision damage coverage offered through the rental car company must be declined
  4. The rental term must be 15days or less
  5. If you already have personal auto insurance, this coverage is supplemental and will cover only your deductible. If you don't have personal auto insurance, Visa will pay for the entire cost of damages up to the legal value of the vehicle
  6. The incident must be reported within 45days of occurrence
There are several others that I can't remember off the top of my head right now. But what an amazing benefit, that costs you the renter NOTHING! And it will not negatively impact your credit or cause an increase to your APR or anything like that.

I used Visa as the example since that's the card I used, but I think other companies like MasterCard and AmEx offer similar services. You should check to make sure. These types of services are offered directly through Visa and not through the bank issuing the card. At Visa, this group is called "Enhanced Services."

In this case, it really sounds like there is such a thing as a free lunch....

Website: http://usa.visa.com/personal/cards/benefits/bft_dmg_waiver_personal.html

Monday, December 8, 2008

More fun freebie events around LA proper!!

With the holidays come lots of free booze. Maybe I shouldn't hate christmas so much after all...

Free Wine Tastings at Second City Bistro
SCB is actually one of my favorite "upscale" restaurants in El Segundo. And they have what appears to be a very popular wine tasting every Monday from 6-7pm. The website doesn't appear updated with current info on the wine tastings, so if you're really keen on going, I would call ahead, just to be safe.

Every Monday, 6-7pm
Second City Bistro
223 Richmond St
El Segundo, CA 90245
(310) 322-6085

Mesh & Lace Launch Party

I love accessories. Mesh & Lace is a new store specializing in gloves... who needs gloves in LA? Who cares? Gloves are awesome, and the boys love them, trust me ;)

Tuesday Dec 9th
Mesh & Lace
3203 Sunset Blvd
Silver Lake
rsvp: lisa@meshandlacela.com.

Gen Art Shop by Design
Thanks to my friend Caroline K for this tip! What is normally $30 is now $0 (they must be getting desperate for warm bodies). But for $0, you get a 5hr(!) open bar, runway show, supposedly complimentary spa treatments, and some pretty neato sounding shopping in dowtown LA. Neato!

Thursday Dec 11th
California Market Center
110 E9th St
Los Angeles CA 90015
Free, but you MUST rsvp

Also on Thursday....
Burton Flagship Store Ladies Night
I think I'm actually gonna go to this thing since I need some gear anyways, plus it sounds like fun: giftbags, giveaways, snacks, and a raffle! whee!! Don't forget to rsvp! ;)

Thursday Dec 11th
Burton Snowboards
8175 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 370-1777

Bar? Lounge? Club? Who knows....

I had a chance to pay a little visit to a new DTLA nightspot this weekend - The Association.

First off, let me say that the parking in the area can be difficult and wrought with sketch - as in climbing over half-asleep homeless people. So my recommendation is to pay the $5 to park in one of the many nearby lots. It's better than getting a $75 parking ticket like I did :( Always listen to what the sign says, no matter how many idiots are parked on that street!!

Walking in is pretty cool. As other reviews have stated, there's no marking in the front, but it's just right next door to Cole's French Dip which is very clearly marked. The door guy reminded me of a non-gay version of Lance Bass.

Walking in, it was dark, crowded, and loud. There's a bar that runs along the left wall and mirrors and seating on the right wall. The bar was weird b/c the DJ booth is enclosed at the end of the bar. So we were stuck in front of the dj hoping and praying to be noticed by a bartender... which eventually happened about 15-20min later? The seating area has neato crystal hanging things which actually reflect the light in a very sparkly colorful manner that I liked.

There's a pretty wide open area between the bar and the seating areas where random people were congregated trying to talk or dance. The douchebag/hoochie quotient was pretty high here considering it was downtown. But if you want a semi-low-key night of drinking, dancing, and debauchery, this is not a bad choice.

The Association
110 E6th St (bt Spring & Main)
Downtown LA

Photo credit: Ken Hively/LATimes

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas for hipsters

With the holidays rapidly approaching (when did it become December??), there are lots of cool parties/shopping events/random fun things to do around the city. I probably won't have time to do most of these, but by writing about it, it makes me feel like I'm a part of the action somehow...

In chronological order:

Recessionista Holiday Sale
Sat Dec 6th 12-8pm

2900 Rowena

I always like to buy clothes/accessories/gifts that aren't readily available at "da mall" and this place has an extensive lineup of local designers selling neat jewelry/clothes/accessories/gifts. The chances of there being free libations is high since one of its sponsors is Honest Tea :)

Downtown LA Block Party
Sat Dec 6th 6pm-midnight

Old Bank District
401 S. Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Since I just came back from Paris, I'm a sucker for anything Parisian. There will also be a beer/wine garden (my favorite!!!)

From yelp: Come out to this FREE Block Party!!! There will be lots of live music, an art bazaar (perfect for gifts!), restaurant specials, a beer and wine garden and a Parisian-style light display on 4th Street. And since it's the season for giving, local proceeds will donate to Downtown charities. Have fun and do a good deed while you're at it!

Rock n Bowl Holiday Party
Wed Dec 10th 9pm-1am

All Star Lanes
4459 Eagle Rock Blvd
Los Angeles CA

This event is sponsored by Toyota Matrix, Filter Magazine, and the Antics team, so you know that you're guaranteed to have plenty of free booze and hipster-watching. I've gone to this event when they had their summer version and indeed it was plenty fun. This one includes free bowling, t-shirt silk printing (get in line for this part early so you don't wait an eternity), and free Asahi beer from 9-11pm. RSVP soon before space runs out!

From Antics website: ANTICS is teaming up with FILTER and erockster to present our Rock 'N' Bowl Holiday Party at All Star Lanes, where we'll be partying with a special DJ set from CSS! The Brazilian wonders will be joined by DJs Lord Nelson and Pants Off, and we'll have free beer courtesy of Asahi, a photobooth from Polite In Public, free bowling and live screenprinting. Entry is free, all you need to do is RSVP.

Apartment3 Gift Sample Sale
Sat dec 13th (and sunday dec 14th) 1pm to 7pm

Apartment 3
1855 industrial street loft 103
La Ca 90021

Yet another holiday sale with prices mostly below $50. And of course, in true hipster fashion, there will be free mimosas and a DJ spinning throughout :)

Free Knotts Berry Farm Admission

December 6-7, 13-14, 20-21 (each weekend in December before xmas)

Knotts (duh)
8039 Beach Boulevard
Buena Park, CA 90621

Free Knotts admission! I'm not a big amusement park fan, but if you wanna spend some hair-raising quality time with the little ones in your life (or the ones that just act like it), this is a fun and cheap way to do it! :D Also, one of my favorite local bands, The Airborne Toxic Event, will be performing there live on Sunday Dec 14th at 5pm. woohoo!!

From yelp: Bring a brand new toy valued at $10 or more(not gift wrapped) to donate to Toys for Tots and you'll receive free admission to Knott's


Daily Candy also just put out their sample sale listing and it's really extensive. My particular interest is in the Rebecca Minkhoff one since those are THE bags carried by NYC fashionistas and my NYC gf who always hangs out at the purse forum. I may have to make some time for that one :P

flickr photo by reneeblanchard

Monday, December 1, 2008

Air France - je t'aime!!!

Most Americans are well aware that domestic airlines have a pretty crappy level of service compared to many of the Asian or European airlines. Well, I wanted this post to be my love note to Air France.

Dear AF,

I can't stop thinking about how awesome you are....

The first time I knew you were something special was when I walked into your lounge at Charles de Gaulle. Not only did you have a huge selection of yummy snacks of assorted cheeses (camambert and a bunch of other French ones I can't prounounce), finger sandwiches and assorted juices and drinks at the ready... you also had a self-service open bar (with champagne!!) across multiple stations. There were many salons serving a variety of purposes including the relaxation room (where you can actually lie down to sleep), a massage room, showers, and a wifi room that also had iMacs to check the internet.

I was already impressed and wanted to spend more time with you here, but it was time to be ushered onto the plane....

You weren't the handsomest plane I had ever met, but once I got to know you better, I knew I was in love....

Shortly after takeoff, we were given little menus with our food offerings. I always think this is a nice touch, especially in the coach cabin to have something to look forward to and know what you're getting. Our first real meal together was a choice of spinach/ricotta canneollni or grilled chicken with wild rice. They were both very good and came with a quinoa salad, wedge of camembert, and a fresh baguette. Dessert was a fig compote and all this was tastefully presented with real glassware and silverware. The George DeBeouf red wine was a disappointment, but we're all allowed the occasional goof up, right? ;)

As you cradled my feet on your foot rests, it was time to watch movies. There were probably at least 50 different movies to choose from that was conveniently listed by genre and language in the back of the in-flight magazine. I settled on waching Broken English (about an American woman falling in love with a French man) and In Bruges (black comedy thriller about 2 British blokes in a small Belgian town). I also tried to watch Step Brothers (but how feasible is it for 2 40yo guys to have parents in their 50s-60s? And that's just the start of the non-sequiturs).

When I was feeling bored and sleepy from the movies, I was able to rest my weary head on your little adjustable headrests. And I was able to wrap myself around your red cotton pillowcase and cozy faux-wool blanket. And when I woke up and was craving a snack, you had in the back in a cold pouch.... OMG Hagen Daaz ice cream bars!!!!!!! It was cool and creamy and as it melted in my mouth, I was in all-consuming bliss. Once wansn't enough, I just had to go back for another :d

After another meal, it was time to say our goodbyes. I wasn't ready to leave you yet, there's still so much more we could've done together.... more movies, more food, more snuggling. But I guess 11 hours together for our first time was probably enough. And I hope to have the pleasure of your company in the near future. Merci, au revior!


ps - Casper van Diem on our flight was a nice touch and a reminder of what's to come in LA. And oh snap, he was there with his whole brood including his milfy wife Catherine Oxenberg. They have cute kids.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Secret" upstairs lounge in Koreatown

Despite the fact that I thought I was so done and over with Koreatown or "ktown" as the locals like to call it, sometimes it shows me a side of itself that gives me hope once again that reinvention is possible at any age.

Last night, my homegirl Cat invited me to a night out with one of her older guy friends and his buddies. We ended up going to a place called Gaam inside the Chapman Plaza in ktown. Apparently it used to be a pool hall called Renaissance back in the days (I'm guessing the 90s). I've been to this place in its previous incarnation last year when it was a fancy schmancy coffeeshop/cafe by the same name. But last night I was almost blown away.

First of all, you can't see this place from the outside. It's a place you only go to if someone takes you there, or if you read about it somehow. It's entrance is right next door to the entrance of Bohemian Cafe which is readily visible from the northwest corner of 6th and Alexandria. Once you get there, you ascend these steps and arrive at a huge space with 20ft vaulted ceilings and a yakitori/sushi station. Behind some bamboo trees that double as a room divider is the main seating area where lots of little groups of people can get together to enjoy themselves.

A projection tv plays music videos that match the music being played inside which was really cool. I hate when places show music videos, but the music itself is something else. So lame... I was mesermized by this tv. I'm not sure if it was because I found it so entertaining or because I thought the guys we were with were a bunch of yucky skeezebags. But I was glad to have it regardless. It was playing mostly 80s hits and a lot of Britney Spears' new stuff. As well as some kpop videos.

The food and drink selections were standard ktown fare: soju, beer, roast chicken, assorted yakitoris. Cat ordered what she called a "japanese style pancake" which was a chewy mass of imitation crab meat and batter topped with a generous amount of bonito flakes and squirts of mayo. This was strangely delicious! It was a great balance of chewy yet crunchy (it's served on a hot skillet), oceany (from the crab meat and bonito flakes) and creamy (from the mayo). This one's a keeper.

They're currently running a happy hour promotion Mon-Thur from 5-8:30pm where for $19.99, you can get a bottle of soju and lots of yummy little food items that would be more than enough to comprise dinner for 2 (or 3 if you're light eaters).

I really liked the fact that this place feels hidden and off the beaten track, even though it's right inside the wildly popular Chapman Plaza. I like the fact that it's got these super tall ceilings that create the dramatic effect. And there are windows overlooking 6th St . I'll have to come back here someday with people I actually like next time (except for Cat, she's cool... ;P )

Gaam Yakidori & Sake Bar
3465 W6th St Suite 300
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(213) 388 8850

Monday, November 17, 2008

a series of unfortunate and fortunate events

Another busy weekend as usual.

Friday night, I discovered an awesome new Thai restaurant in Thai Town near East Hollywood thanks to my buddy Ray. Apparently, Ray and his friends checked out most of the Thai joints along Hollywood Blvd and Ruen Pair was deemed the best of the bunch. Everything on the menu is flavorful, with adjustable levels of spice and priced at around $7 per item. There's also a good looking Thai dessert place on the other side of the strip mall (cant remember the name though...).

Next up was the Ghetto Gloss Bronx Zoo exhibit at Silver Lake. I didn't realize this place was on the same strip as my favorite German pub Red Lion Tavern and that ok tiki bar across the street. The place had way too many people inside for such a small space. It's essentially two rooms, with one selling a bunch of random tchotchkes and the other containing the artwork. Arty parties are always good for people watching and Ray seemed entertained by the variety of folks at this place as well. I ran into a guy I met a few weeks ago who took my number and never called. I wanted to ask "Why the fuck did you ask for my number if you weren't going to call, you jerkface?!" but all I ended up mustering was "Hey, it was good to see you".

The booze was some nasty cheap vodka mixed with a low-cal sparkling beverage called Tava which was also pretty gross. But at least it was free...

Our nightcap was at The Abbey in West Hollywood. I had never been asked if I was a lesbian so many times in my life. Should I take that as a compliment? Gay bars are always good for eye candy and I like the egalitarian feel of The Abbey - you get a variety of different ethnicities, ages, and sexual orientation.

Saturday was a series of nightlife blunders involving waiting outside (and not getting into) a club that apparently Wesley Snipes also went to and ending up at a seedy Korean nightclub on Wilshire Blvd that I would prefer not to mention. These events were definitely not initiated by yours truly.

Sunday was the Swap-o-Rama that was held in conjuction with Felt Club at the Shrine Auditorium. Again, it had the huge piles of free-for-all clothes and the volunteer crafters. The silkscreen printing by FreshPressed was really popular this year as that station had the longest lines the whole time I was there. But the highlight for me was the HUGE-mongous craft fair held downstairs sponsored by Felt Club. There were literally 100s of vendors selling all kinds of artsy crafty wares: jewelry, dolls, stationery, clothes, and everything else. I ended up picking up a few things for myself as well as xmas gifts for friends and family. That was fun.

Next up was dinner at Soowon Galbi that I hosted for my non-Korean friends (Caroline, John, Crystal) to eat Korean bbq with me. I love being able to share anything cultural or foodie with interested parties. We had an awesome dinner of all kinds of yummy meats and were stuffed to the gills afterwards, all the while being surrounded by ktown hipsters and middle aged folk returning from their Sunday golf games.

Last stop was an excursion to Silverlake to check out the new bar Stinkers Truckstop. I had a Silverlake Lemonade which was ok, but the highlight for me and I think most of my friends were the skunk butts attached to the walls that emit a "mystery smoke" when the bartenders pulled a chain over the bar. Now that was funny...

Friday, November 14, 2008

the holy trifecta of free parties

Last night Sarah and I went to the Daily Candy Holiday Fete at decadestwo on Melrose, sponsored by Disaronno. This party had what I affectionately call the "holy trifecta" of free parties.

Element 1 - free booze. Lots of parties have this. This one was no exception. The disaronno was definitely flowing

Element 2 - free food, ideally in the form of something created by a fancy catering company. This is a bit rarer than free booze and sometimes isn't even announced, but if it happens and you can get to it without competing with ravenous vultures and shameless old people, it's pretty awesome.

This place had passed hors d'oeuvres of: steak on potato cakes, tomato/mozzarella/basil on skewers, chicken salad sandwich on almond bread, whipped blue cheese on frisee with fig jelly, salmon with creme fraiche with fennel on lavosh, and an amazing cheesecake thingie for dessert :d

Element 3 - the goodie bag. A really good party will have elements 1 and 2, and as you leave, one of the workers should hand you a goodie bag. It's contents can often be dubious or even lame, but it's always nice to walk out of a party carrying a little paper bag and feeling cooler than all the plebians walking around empty handed.

The contents of this goodie bag last night were: book of Daily Candy Lexicon (MSRP ~$15), a set of disaronno refrigerator magnets made of little tiles with cocktail recipes printed on them (tres chic!), lip plumper gloss, a sample of pantene blonde expressions shampoo/conditioner, and some marketing materi
als (aka throw away cards). Not bad! :D

Decasdes two is a cute little store with super expensivo second hand stuff by all the big names: Prada, LV, Chanel, Christian Louboutain (sp?) discounted from their retail price of $1000+ to around $200-500. It was like being in a fancy clothes/shoes/bag museum.

But after about an hour of all this eating/boozing/shopping, we were ready to bounce out. Ambling along a rather dead Melrose ave at around 8pm, we saw a neat looking store/event space. Turned out that it was the highbrow lingerie/sex toy store Kiki de Montparnasse. We were greeted by a super friendly awesome gal who worked there (wish I got her name) and she was showing us all kinds of neat fancy lingerie and "classy" sex toys. I liked how these toys had a multi-functional element to them. Jewelry/art by day, naught toys by night... haha.

We made a quick pitstop at Winchells Donuts on Melrose. This place is ghetto fabulous! A dingy little donut shop sandwiched between hoity toity stores and restaurants. As Sarah and I walked out, the creepy old guy eating at the table waved at us to say "hi". What are creepy old guys thinking when they wave to hot girls like us? Do they expect us to stop and say hi and flirt with them at Winchells? I don't get people sometimes....

Our next stop was to meet up with Caroline at Cafe Wa s. I normally don't like places with gimmicky names like this, but that's another story.... I always thought this place would be a dingy little diner next to the Arclight, but turned out to be a beautiful French Renaissance-style restaurant with a rotating piano platform at its center. There were lots of cute little rooms to eat, hang, or have a little party. Considering how nice this place looked on the inside, I thought the food prices were pretty reasonable. Oh, and the staff here (mostly male) are all so cute and nice, both gay and straight! I was majorly crushing on our waiter. Oh what's his name.... carlos? He was just so friendly and adorable. ;)

Finally, we hopped over to the Hungry Cat next door. I love how this place does such a great job at incorporating seasonal ingredients into both their food and cocktail menu. I had a persimmon margarita (reposado tequila, persimmon juice, lime with a cinnamon sugar rim $13). I loved that rimmer!! Cinnamon on the nose, salt on the tongue, my senses were in a state of confused bliss.

All that activity and I was still home before 1am. Not bad :) I hope some more crazy adventures unfold this weekend! :D

Thursday, November 13, 2008

All that hype for naught?

Last night was the much hyped Thrillist 2nd Anniversary Party at Central Hollywood on Las Palmas. Being a former NY'er, I'm always a bit wary of LA spots that try to somehow bring NYC to LA.

As I was walking over from Hollywood and Highland, they were doing an "orange carpet" premiere of some new show on the GSN called Think Like a Cat. I saw Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air. That was kinda neat.

But anyways.... our crew was all paranoid about getting there early as the email clearly stated that they expected a PACKED HOUSE! So we get there right at 7pm and it's totally dead. ugh! I didn't realize Central was not a bar/lounge, but an actual nightclub. Not a huge megaclub like Blvd3 or The Kress, but a club nonetheless. 8pm, still half empty. 9pm, ok maybe the place was like 1/3 full. I think their overhype, coupled with the usual insane Hollywood traffic scared folks away?

But the Jamesons were flowing generously and freely and LAPhotoParty upstairs made from some interesting memory captures. There was lots of making out by the end of the night (none by me unfortunately) which I suppose is typical of any party featuring free booze.

There was also a clown making balloon toys. Can you guess what this long purple thing and its companion is supposed to be? :P

My only wish was that the guido douchebag that kept trying to dance with me would just leave me alone already!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Just what this world needs - another blog

Last night, myself, Caroline and Dre hit up Rush Street where I was served mediocre tuna tartare "nachos" by a waiter that my companions considered a royal douchebag. I really didn't think he was so bad. At times, there was a line to get upstairs to the bar area with the stripper pole. WTF?

This was followed up by a visit to Backstage Bar whose existence I just found out about, and so close to my hood! A rather neighborhoody dive bar replete with a karaoke stage. Good place to have deep conversations on a date though, cuz the other patrons are not too pretty, so your date won't be distracted by the eye candy. And they have my favorite - Newcastle Brown Ale - on tap! woohoo!!