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!!