Schmap!! Los Angeles

2 10 2009

Check this out: Schmap!! has published one of my photos in their online Los Angeles Guide! Click on “Little Tokyo” and the photos/blurbs of Little Tokyo appear on the right. Look for mine! I think that’s pretty cool.



17 09 2009

Los Angeles Mission: fresh and authentic Mexican food.
Problem: Too many other restaurants to try
Solution: visit Loteria Grill in the Farmers Market in West Hollywood for a quick lunch

The menu was extensive, the line was long, but we sidled up to the counter for some quick service.

I ordered the Carne deshebrada – Shredded Beef Served with Fresh Guacamole, Salsa Chipotle, and Finely Chopped Onion and Cilantro. Matt ordered the Cochinita Pibil– Pork, Slowly Roasted in Banana Leaf Served with Citrus-Pickled Red Onion and Chile Habanero.  Both were magically delicious. Tender meat, bright fresh accouterments, homemade corn tortillas. The one problem: the circumference of the tacos was about the size of my palm. And they were $3.50 each.

The Agua Frescas (watermelon and strawberry) were like a sweet sorbet dessert made from fresh fruit. Icy icy good. When we go back to L.A., I think I should insist on taking Loteria more seriously. As in, order a full meal on an empty stomach, and probably over-order just so I can try a bit of everything. The food was that good.

(P.S. Please tell me your opinion on this word: accoutrements or accouterments. I like the first spelling but WordPress likes the second spelling.)

Fro Yo Faceoff

15 09 2009

I’ve decided to commemorate the end of summer with a new post about frozen yogurt. I was introduced to frozen yogurt many years ago as a kid and I never understood what the hype was about. I like lots of flavor and Fro Yo always seemed to have very limited flavor choices so I always went with the ice cream.

In Los Angeles this summer, we witnessed some very fierce Fro Yo competition so we jumped into the fray.

Pinkberry, in Little Tokyo, was the first contender. I had heard great things about Pinkberry so we went with high hopes and watering mouths. Pinkberry was OK.  The decor and ambience was funky and very clean.  The employees were a bit full of themselves and I was glad I hadn’t changed into my casual clothes after dinner to eat here.

The taste was absolutely fine. Fine, I tell you! But only three flavors? And we can’t put on our own toppings? Now where’s the fun in that? I had a flash back to the days of frozen yogurt only being available in a few flavors. I was not impressed back then and, to be honest, I wasn’t too impressed with Pinkberry.

Maybe we preferred Yogurtland because we were tourists. Maybe Philadelphians just want too many choices in their food (Whiz wit, wit-out, etc. etc.). We just loved everything about it. The huge cups that you can fill yourself with 5 different kinds of yogurt and 10 toppings. Or maybe you only want a small squeeze from the machine. You can do whatever you want in Yogurtland! And people behave themselves!!

I was on a fruity kick–I couldn’t get enough of the fresh fruit options, like mango and kiwi, and the natural yogurt just topped it all off. There’s this yogurt stand in Tokyo Disneyland, right when you get off of Space Mountain, that makes the most tangy, icy, semi-sweet flavors and this is the first time I’ve found anything that comes close. The natural flavor, mixed with some sweeter toppings, was so natsukashii!s

Matt experienced a little bit of that when he got sweet beans on his Fro Yo, and he was also a fan of the green tea with mochi topping. I passed.

We love you, Yogurtland! We love your overwhelming amounts of flavors and toppings! We love putting our dishes on the scale to be weighed! We love the energy in the shop! And we love your little green spoons. We are in love.

Farmers Market: West Hollywood

23 08 2009

The Farmers Market in West Hollywood was our kind of site seeing. Matt and I walked into the hustle and bustle of the crowded open-air stalls of mostly food and felt like we were home (picture Reading Terminal Market with no roof). This is the perfect mid-day stop for a sampling of fresh and local foods, browsing through souvenirs, and shopping for wine and gourmet ingredients. We even canceled our reservation at Bazaar that evening and instead picked up some cheese, salami, fresh fruit, and a bottle of wine to have for our dinner.





Huntington Gardens

20 08 2009

The Huntington Botanical Gardens is a lovely place to spend a day or multiple days in the Los Angeles area. Matt and I went for an afternoon and we could have easily spent much more time exploring the beautiful and unique gardens and fantastic library.

The entrance fee is $20 per person on weekends and we decided that it was well worth this price. The gardens are extensive, as is the library that we rushed through 30 minutes before it closed.

We were mostly excited about the Japanese Garden, herb garden, and first-edition texts on display in the library. The new Chinese Garden needs a bit of work, and we thought that having a refreshment stand right there gave it a more commerical feel.

Overall, I wished we had more time to explore all of the parts of the Garden and even linger in the library (I usually don’t like anything resembling a museum, and I am not ashamed to admit it). I highly recommend building this into your schedule if you ever visit Los Angeles.


Yamazaki Bakery

16 08 2009

I sometimes don’t understand when people say that Asian countries don’t “do” bread. I can only speak for Japan, and I know for a fact that bread is better there. When we were staying in Little Tokyo, the only place open early for a quick breakfast was Yamazaki Bakery in the plaza around the corner from the hotel. Fine with us.


We must have tried everything over the course of a few days: ham and cheese croissant, hot dog wrapped in pastry, ham egg and cheese danish, raspberry cheese stick, and here is Matt showing us the toast made from thick white bread that just can’t be duplicated easily. The yelp! community understands.


Little Tokyo

14 08 2009

It doesn’t look like much, but we enjoyed staying in Little Tokyo while we were in Los Angeles. A little gritty, a little cheesy, but a little like being in Tokyo, we called this area around our hotel “home” for a few days. And when there are two yogurt shops, multiple restaurants, a karaoke bar, Japanese bread shop, souvenir shops, and a Family Mart all within a 2-block radius, that’s hard to complain about.

Little Tokyo likes its plazas. My favorite was the Japanese Village Plaza, a pedestrian maze with kitchy souvenir shops, izakaya, karaoke, and FroYo.

The Nijiya Market supplied us with a quick bento lunch one day when we were in a rush.

We never did try the karaoke or Frying Fish restaurants, but you always need to leave something to go back to, right?

People watching=one of my favorite free past times.

Our hotel, the Miyako Inn and Spa, was in a great location and had nice rooms for a decent price.

If we ever go back to Los Angeles, we would probably choose this location again if we wanted to be in the city. Beverly Hills is too fancy and Hollywood is too trendy.  Little Tokyo was just right.

ExperienceLA and the LTBA both have a great walking tours on their sites.